This may seem like an apparent observation. Especially since the Festival of Fools celebrates the differences of people. However, this is the only day difference is celebrated. Esmeralda (Demi Moore) even poses the question: “What do they have against people who are different anyways?” Well, difference has to be bad... Right?
I am sure the first character that comes to your mind is Quasimodo (Tom Hulce).Even his name means “half formed”. His hunchback is the most obvious deformity. Possibly even his conversations with the gargoyles could be seen as schizophrenia. However, I argue that distortions exist among almost all of the other main characters.
I want to define deformity as anything outside of the norm in society or contradictory in a character.
Frollo (Tony Jay) is possibly the second character with the most deformity. He is violent, harsh, manipulative, and contradictory. He tells Quasi, “You are deformed and you are ugly.” Although he has a great distain for gypsies, he takes one in as his own. At any point during Quasimodo’s life, Frollo could have cast him out. However, he keeps him around. Frollo’s physical features could be considered attractive, but his personality makes him ugly and twisted.
In the end, the norm is not to let Notre Dame burn. Frollo has tunnel vision (to catch Esmeralda), but the citizens of Paris will not let the great church fall. I am not saying the crowd isn’t fickle. But the fact that Frollo is going against them strengthens his deformity.
Speaking of the gypsies, society considers them malformed. They are considered travelers, beggars, and “heathens”. They “live outside the normal order” and wear colorful clothes and jewelry. As compared to the other people, gypsies are conspicuous. They stand out in a crowd. That makes them deformed.
I would say Esmeralda especially stands out. She is not afraid to be who she is. Also, she is happy to fight for her cause and even help Quasi when everyone else would rather laugh and throw things at him. Fighting against tradition and expectations in this society is a distortion. Esmeralda and the other gypsies would rather be seen negatively than not seen at all.
I would even claim the Phoebus (Kevin Kline), our “gallant captain”, goes against the norm. He is contradictory in that he appears to be someone who would “follow orders” no matter what. A true “war hero.” However, he defies Frollo and what is expected of him after he is told to kill an innocent family. After being dismissed from his post, he is more than happy to help Esmeralda and Quasi.
The story emphasizes that difference can be good. Society should not judge and shun those who look or sound different. Technically, we are all different.
“What makes a monster and what makes a man?”
Thanks for reading! Come back next week for round two of Harry Potter monthly.