Claude Frollo  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.

Claude Frollo is a fictional character from the Victor Hugo novel Notre-Dame de Paris (The Hunchback of Notre Dame). He is the Archdeacon of Notre Dame. He, at first, is shown in a positive light but later becomes the main antagonist of the novel.


In the novel

In his youth, Claude Frollo was a highly intelligent but morose young man who was orphaned along with his infant brother Jehan when their parents died of the plague. His studies led him to become the Archdeacon of Josas, which is his position during the events of the novel. He also has a small fief which brings him a little money, most of which goes to fund his brother's debauched lifestyle.

Frollo has a deeply compassionate side. He rescues Quasimodo, a deformed hunchback child whom he finds abandoned on the cathedral's foundlings bed. He adopts him, raises him like a son, cares for him, and teaches him a sort of sign language when Quasimodo becomes deaf. Frollo is a respected scholar and studies several languages, law, medicine, science and theology. However, he becomes infatuated with alchemy, which leads townspeople to spread the rumor that he is a sorcerer. He also believes strongly in fate. When a visitor to Frollo's quarters sees a fly caught in a web and tries to save the fly, Frollo sharply holds him back, saying, "Do not interfere with the workings of fate!" His dour, prematurely aged appearance (at thirty-six he is already nearly bald), as well as his extreme and irrational fear of women, contribute further to his isolation from society.

Frollo also has strong sexual passions, though he is a celibate due to his station within the church. These passions erupt in him through his contact with the beautiful Gypsy girl Esmeralda, and eventually they prove his undoing. He considers her to be a temptation sent by the Devil to test his faith, and begins by cursing her as a demoness, but finds he cannot resist her, and determines to give in to temptation. The young girl, however, is repulsed by his impassioned advances. Frollo orders Quasimodo to abduct her, a crime that Frollo himself instigated out of mad lust for her, and then ignores the poor hunchback when he's being publicly tortured for the crime. When Frollo discovers that she is in love with another man, Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers, he spies on their tryst, and in a moment of jealous rage he attempts to kill Phoebus, and kisses Esmeralda when she faints. He does not attempt to intercede when she is turned over to the magistrate on charges of witchcraft and murder, but he stabs himself during her torture and shows her the wound as a proof of his love for her. She still refuses to return his affections, and shortly before her execution he comes completely undone and leaves Paris in a feverish madness, not realizing that his adopted son, Quasimodo, has rescued her from the gallows. When he returns to the news that Esmeralda is still alive, he quickly becomes as jealous of Quasimodo as he was of Phoebus; the thought drives him to further insanity. Frollo later attempts to rape her at her sanctuary in the cathedral, and finally resolves to deliver her to the authorities when she refuses his advances yet again.

Frollo's time comes when a group of scoundrels, enraged by news that the French monarchy has ordered Esmeralda taken from the cathedral and hanged within three days, arms themselves to assault Notre Dame Cathedral. While Quasimodo is busy fighting off the scoundrels, Pierre Gringoire and a hooded figure sneak into the Cathedral and convince Esmeralda to sneak out with them. The man's face is hidden behind a hood, leaving Esmeralda to guess his identity. They flee to a boat on the Seine River then separate when they head to shore, with Gringoire leaving Esmeralda with the unknown man. The hooded figure drags Esmeralda to a nearby gallows and identifies himself as Frollo by removing his hood.

Again Frollo demands that she become his or else she will be hanged; she responds by condemning the priest harshly. Frollo leaves Esmeralda to a recluse to hold her for the royal soldiers coming to hang her and comes back to Notre Dame Cathedral. He then walks up to one of the cathedral's towers to watch the girl being hanged, unaware that Quasimodo has spotted him and followed him upstairs. He watches calmly while Esmeralda is taken to the gallows; then when the girl is actually hanged he bursts into an evil laugh.

When Quasimodo sees him laughing at Esmeralda's hanging, he becomes enraged and pushes Frollo off the balustrade. A gargoyle suddenly stops his fall for a while. He cries out Quasimodo for help, but Quasimodo remained silent. Then, Frollo finally falls down the cathdral, until suddenly, the roof of a house breaks his fall. He slides down the roof, hits the pavement of the town square, and dies.


The film adaptations omit Frollo's compassion, adding a selfish interpretation towards his adoption to Quasimodo that is not present in Hugo's novel. Also, in order to avoid the corruptionTemplate:Citation needed of the Catholic Church, the 1923, 1939 and 1996 films were unable to depict Frollo as he was written in the novel. So, in the 1923 version, he was not a bad archdeacon; instead, he is a good archdeacon and his darker side was handed over to his brother Jehan, who was made the villain of this film version. This is also compared to the 1996 Disney and the 1939 adaptation, where Frollo is a Judge, the Archdeacon is a separate character entirely, and the character of Jehan is omitted.

Actor Version Character
Victor Hugo's novel Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Walter Law 1917 Adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Annesley Healy 1922 Adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Brandon Hurst 1923 Adaptation Jehan Frollo
Sir Cedric Hardwicke 1939 Adaptation Jehan Frollo
Alain Cuny 1956 Adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
James Maxwell 1966 Adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Kenneth Haigh 1977 Adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Derek Jacobi 1982 Adaptation Archdeacon Claude Frollo
Ron Haddrick (voice) 1986 Adaptation Frollo
Tony Jay (voice) 1996 Disney Adaptation Judge Claude Frollo
Richard Harris The Hunchback (1997 film) Dom Frollo
Daniel Lavoie 1997-2002, musical Frollo
Richard Berry 1999 Parody Serge Frollo

In the Disney film

Template:Infobox character An adaptation of the character, Judge Claude Frollo, served as the central antagonist in Disney's 1996 musical animated version of the novel, The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Frollo was animated by Kathy Zielinski and Dominique Monféry, and was voiced by the late Tony Jay, whom directors Kirk Wise and Gary Trousdale chose for the role based on his brief appearance in their last film, Beauty and the Beast. Disney's Frollo, unlike Hugo's, is the Minister of Justice, or a judge, rather than the Archdeacon, and lacks much of the original character's compassion and deep emotion, becoming more of an evil villain than a tragic anti-hero, but is still depicted as the ruler of Paris and effectively above every law in the city save for inside the Cathedral. Regardless, he still has strong passionate feelings for Esmeralda, and, as in the novel, plans to have her executed if she refuses to love him. Frollo is presented as a vindictive, coldly intelligent, brutal extremist with little to no compassion for anything except himself. However, he is also perceived as a tragic figure, tormented by his maddening self-righteousness and narrow views.

Frollo, in the film, is symbolic of religious hypocrisy, which was also an enduring theme in the novel. As a man of strong medieval Catholic faith, Frollo uses his position as judge to inflict great suffering upon the gypsy population, believing them to "live outside the natural order" and engage in "heathen" behavior. One night, Frollo chases a gypsy woman, believing her to be hiding stolen goods. They arrive to Notre Dame, where he knocks the woman down the steps, causing her a fatal head trauma. Frollo then discovers that the "stolen goods" are actually a hideously deformed infant child. Believing the child to be an unholy demon, Frollo attempts to drown the infant in a well but is stopped by the Archdeacon, who convinces him that, in order to save his soul from eternal damnation, Frollo must raise the child as his own son. Frollo reluctantly agrees, hoping to use the child to exterminate the Gypsies. Naming the child Quasimodo, Frollo raises him within the towers of Notre Dame, attempting to "protect" him from the outside world. Frollo hopes to clear the Gypsies out of Paris with the help of Phoebus, his Captain of the Guard.

Twenty years later, while attending the annual Festival of Fools, Frollo discovers a gypsy dancer named Esmeralda, who attracts Frollo with her beauty. Shortly afterwards, Quasimodo is revealed to have fled the towers and joined the festivities, only to be crowned the "King of Fools" and mocked by the townspeople. Frollo refuses to help in order to teach Quasimodo a lesson, and is enraged when a defiant Esmeralda decides to assist him instead. Esmeralda then ridicules and humiliates Frollo before claiming sanctuary within Notre Dame. That evening, Frollo is disturbed by his attraction for Esmeralda, believing a relationship with a gypsy will result in his eternal damnation, which he expresses in the song "Hellfire". Upon learning Esmeralda has escaped the cathedral, Frollo is angered and begins a ruthless campaign to find her, burning down houses of those that would shelter gypsies and interrogating the gypsies that were captured. He later attempts to murder an innocent family whom he suspects of collaborating with gypsies, but an appalled Phoebus intervenes and rescues them; Frollo declares Phoebus a traitor and attempts to execute him, but he is eventually rescued by Esmeralda.

Realizing Quasimodo assisted Esmeralda, Frollo convinces him that the Court of Miracles has been found and will eventually be attacked; a misled Quasimodo follows Phoebus to the Court where Frollo's army attacks and arrests the gypsies. Frollo then sentences Esmeralda to execution. She refuses to become Frollo's mistress and is prepared to burn to death, but Quasimodo rescues her after she passes out and brings her to the cathedral. Frollo gains entrance to the interior of the cathedral and, after directly defying the Archdeacon and flinging him down a flight of stairs, Frollo attempts to kill Quasimodo, resulting in a violent struggle in which Quasimodo throws Frollo to the floor and comes very close to killing him. Esmeralda awakens, and Quasimodo rushes her to safety. Frollo chases him and Esmeralda onto a balcony overlooking the city, and fights Quasimodo again. In his hateful rage, Frollo reveals to Quasimodo that he killed his mother and is now planning to kill Quasimodo himself as he "should have done" twenty years ago. Frollo subsequently uses his cape to knock Quasimodo off of the balcony, but Quasimodo manages to hold on and pulls Frollo along with him. Frollo dangles momentarily for his life, but he is soon able to climb on a gargoyle in perfect position to kill Esmeralda, who is attempting to save Quasimodo. However, as he raises his sword, the gargoyle that he is standing on starts to break and he falls, cling on for dear life and dropping his sword. The gargoyle's face then springs to life and roars at him (it is unknown if the gargoyle really came to life or if Frollo in his madness is hallucinating again). Frollo screams in terror and carries on screaming as the gargoyle breaks off completely and sends Frollo to his death in a lake of molten lead created earlier by Quasimodo.

Other appearances

Frollo appears in the Disney's Hollywood Studios nighttime show Fantasmic! as one of the main villains called on by the Evil Queen to fight Mickey Mouse. He is destroyed along with the other villains in the show's conclusion. Frollo made appearances at Disney's Hollywood Studios in the daily Disney Stars and Motor Cars Parade. In 2009, the parade will move to the Walt Disney Studios park at Disneyland Resort Paris and it is uncertain if Frollo will appear in this version, renamed Stars'n'Cars. Frollo also appears at the Walt Disney Parks and Resorts as a meetable character.

He makes a brief appearance at the beginning of the House of Mouse special House of Villains. At one time, he was sitting with the Mad Hatter, but he had no dialogue. He also appeared sitting near the two outraged guests, but still no dialogue.

Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Claude Frollo" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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