Historical Events  Books
Hunchback of Notre Dame

MMDE: Esmeralda is rescued and lives in the movies

Current: In the original book she dies

She does in the book, but not in the movies

Victor Hugo's classic "The Hunchback of Notre Dame" was written in 1831, during the second French revolution. It tells the famous tale of the unfortunate hunchback, Quasimodo, who was deformed and made deaf from his bell-ringing in the rafters of the Parisian cathedral, and his love for the gypsy girl Esmeralda.

In the book, she is actually rescued by him at one point and taken into the cathedral, where he cries "Sanctuary! Sanctuary!". However, things don't work out and she does die at the end.

There have been many movies and remakes, including the 1927, 1939 and Disney versions, but in each of these she lives at the end. Is this just the Hollywood effect or something else at work here? 


Even though Esmeralda is fictional, she was called Agnes when she was born. She was of French-Roma ethnicity, and when the events of the novel ocurred, she was 16. She was born into a noble family, but when she was a baby she was kidnapped by gypsies, and a deformed baby boy left in ther place - the infamous Quasimodo.


Framed for a supposed murder she did not commit, as she is about to be hanged Quasimodo snatches her from the gallows away to Notre Dame. They hide together, and after a few weeks she understands him and they become friends. Unfortunately this doesn't last, and the soldiers storm the catherdral and drag her away to prison. This time, her real mother arrives and they realise who each other are only at the last moment, because Esmertalda is then taken to the gallows and  hung. Quasimodo went to her grave and was so grief-stricken he starved himself to death by her body.