Complex Moralities (the Hunchback of Notre Dame) Essay

907 Words 4 Pages
Jessie Harrington Complex Moralities
According to Aristotle, for a writer to create an interesting character it must be morally complex, meaning it must consist of not only good or bad morals, but both. Victor Hugo's The Hunchback of Notre Dame has a few examples of this trait in its main characters. Claude Frollo, the priest, shows moral complexity, as he is the novel's antagonist but is also very compassionate in his feelings toward Esmeralda. Phoebus, who is a nobleman, a soldier, and the captain of the King's archers, is also one to cheat on his fiance, Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier, and later ignore his chance to save Esmeralda during her execution. Quasimodo is another quality example of moral
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Frollo's compassion and partially good intentions conflict with his actions and get him into predicaments. These characteristics of his contradict themselves, making him a morally complex character. Phoebus, who is supposed to be a gentleman, is not much more than a womanizer, however, he saves La Esmeralda from Quasimodo the night he attacks her. Phoebus does not love her, but leads her to think otherwise and tries to seduce her. As he spoke to the lost gypsy girl he confessed his apparent love "in one breath without making one single blunder," suggesting that he had strung together the same exact words to many gullible and in love women just like Esmeralda. (Hugo 167) When Frollo stabs Phoebus everyone is convinced he is dead but without bringing it to anyone's attention, he recovers. Phoebus doesn't speak up when La Esmeralda is sentanced to death for his murder because he doesn't want to be associated with a gypsy girl and doesn't want his fiance to find out about his relations with her. Even though he could have saved Esmeralda's life, "he felt no great desire to make a personal appearance at the trial" (Hugo 199) With Quasimodo's life, being soundless and confusing, he does not always make the right decisions. His thoughts and comprehensions are twisted but his heart is good. Near the beginning of the novel, Quasimodo began following Esmeralda and attacked her late at night. He

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