Disney’s characterization of Frollo was greatly influenced by the villain Jehan Frollo (Claude Frollo’s alcaholic brother in the original novel), as played by Sir Cedric Hardwicke in the 1939 version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Like Disney’s Frollo, Jehan is the Court Judge of Paris and has a deep hatred towards gypsies. He also has a black horse, wears black robes and a black hat, and has a nose, eyes, lips, and sideburns similar to the character in Disney’s version.
In Disney’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Frollo is a justice minister rather than an archdeacon, and lacks much of the original character’s compassion and deep emotion, becoming more of an evil villain than a tragic anti-hero. However, he is also perceived as a tragic figure, tormented by his maddening self-righteousness, religious fervor, and narrow views, at war with his lust for Esmeralda. His character becomes symbolic of religious hypocrisy.
Some differences between Disney’s Frollo and Hugo’s Frollo:
In the original novel Notre-Dame de Paris, Claude Frollo is the Archdeacon.
Frollo has a deeply compassionate side. He himself rescues Quasimodo, whom he finds abandoned at the cathedral. 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 the townspeople to spread the rumor that he is a sorcerer. 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.
In the novel, Frollo is driven completely mad by his love for Esmeralda, and is tortured by his lust for her and his celebate duties to the church. He orders Quasimodo to abduct her, and when the attempt fails, his next act is to spy on Esmeralda and Pheobus (whom she is in love with), and as they are about to have sex, stab Pheobus. He does not attempt to intercede when Esmeralda is arrested for the attempted murder, but instead stabs himself during her torture and shows her the wound as a proof of his love for her. When she still rejects him, he flees Paris in a feverish madness. When he returns to find that Quasimodo has rescued Esmeralda, he quickly becomes as jealous of Quasimodo as he was of Phoebus, and the thought drives him to further insanity. Frollo later attempts to rape her at her sanctuary in the cathedral, only to be brutally beaten and nearly killed by Quasimodo, who doesn’t realize who he is until he staggers into the moonlight. Frollo has had enough, and decides to rid himself of Esmeralda by handing her over to the authorities. At the gallows, he gives her a final ultimatum: either she accepts his love, or he lets her hang. She chooses death, and Frollo returns to Notre Dame to watch her execution, bursting into an evil laugh when she is dead. Quasimodo sees him laughing and pushes him off of the balustrade to the streets below.
Frollo is actually a very interesting and diverse character in the novel, very different from how he was portrayed in the film. I’ll gather up some stuff on him.
That’s awesome! Thanks!
Thanks so much! I’m very pleased to have converted another person to tumblr :D