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     The original novel 
  • Acceptable Ethnic Targets: The Roma are portrayed among the thieves in the slums of Paris. At the time of its publications (and indeed, even today), the Roma were not well-liked by other Europeans. Hugo being one not to shy from controversy does however show that these Roma are merely a part of a larger community of thieves rather than a solely ethnic class. The Roma even have their own sub-leader. Hugo even going as far to have their ultimate leader Clopin, whom their own leader answers too, is still ultimately portrayed more positively than France's own king, King Louis XI.
  • "Common Knowledge":
    • Many portray Clopin as Roma, but he isn't. He is their leader, but on the technicality that the Duke of Egypt, the leader of Paris' Roma population, answers to him.
    • Would you believe us if we told you that it actually wasn't Quasimodo's deformities that the peasants ostracized him for, but his red hair? Such were the prejudices of actual Medieval Parisians.
    • Also, despite what most adaptations are famous for, the original novel attempts no commentary on prejudice or the Beauty Equals Goodness trope; it's actually, of all things, just an architecture nerd's Author Appeal.
  • Crazy Is Cool: Clopin who runs a Parody of the King's Court with fake ministers with phony titles, and constantly has fake injuries. Yet also gets a Dying Moment of Awesome during The Siege.
  • Die for Our Ship: Frollo/Esmeralda fans of any of the adaptations are eager to kill off Phoebus for the sake of this ship. Then again, even if you don't support this ship, almost every Hunchback of Notre Dame fan would gladly see novel Phoebus die.
  • Jerkass Woobie: Claude Frollo is an educated and enlightened man who grows darker out of his self-inflicted disappointment in himself for not raising his brother Jehan to be as faithful or hardworking as himself and his later uncontrollable lust for Esmeralda, which is based more clearly in his sexual frustration as a priest than in later adaptations.
  • Older Than They Think: Victor Hugo's Self-Adaptation the opera "La Esmeralda" features many things that would appear in later adaptations.
    • Phoebus undergoing Adaptational Heroism originates with that opera. His Death by Adaptation that appears in the 1939 film also originates with the opera but rather than being in the middle it happens at the end where he dies of his wound after Esmeralda has been exonerated. Him being Promoted to Love Interest also originates with the opera.
    • Esmeralda escaping execution originates with the opera but she does not have time to enjoy it. After Phoebus dies Esmeralda vows to follow him, which of course means she will commit suicide so they can be Together in Death.
    • Clopin undergoing Adaptational Villainy such as in the 1923 film also originates with the opera where he was an accomplice of Frollo's in a second abduction of Esmeralda that never ended up being carried out.
    • Pierre Gringoire, King Louis, Jehan Frollo and a good many others being adapted out also originate with the opera but in the case of Jehan some aspects of his character were incorporated into his brother Claude.
    • Claude Frollo being Spared By Adaptation originates with the opera as he does in the 1923 and 1939 as well, especially odd since in the opera he does not undergo Adaptational Heroism and is basically a Karma Houdini by the end. Quasimodo too survives to the end but this has more to do with him having been Demoted to Extra in contrast to the adaptations that keep him alive in the end and have him as a major character.
  • Values Dissonance:
    • Sexual obsession in a priest? Bad, wrong, dangerous. Sexual obsession of a man in his thirties for a 16-year-old girl? No prob.
    • The depiction of the Roma people in the book has not aged well, although it's still a Zig-Zagging example. While Esmeralda's persecution as a witch is portrayed as wrong, near the end of the novel, it's revealed by birth she was French, and was exchanged with Quasimodo (who is actually Romani by birth), although his persecution is also portrayed as wrong. The other Romani in the novel are portrayed as part of the lower class in the Cour des Miracles (Slums), who survive by begging and pickpocketing, but then again these are living conditions thrust upon many an oppressed minority in real life. Clopin, their leader, is depicted as an Anti-Hero, who while possessing a heroic side, is hostile towards the Middle class, and threatens to hang Gringoire for trespassing in the Cour des Miracles, but Clopin is nevertheless still depicted in a better light than the then-current King of France. At several points, they are referred to as the "Egyptians," which reflects the real-life misconception that the Romani people originate from Egypt, which is the origin of the "Gypsy" moniker, but it's important to remember that bigotry and ignorance aren't the same thing.
    • Reality Is Unrealistic way regarding Quasimodo. As per the attitudes of Medieval Parisians, the peasants take no issue at all with Quasimodo's physical deformities; it's his red hair of all things that they ostracize him for.
  • Values Resonance: In a deeply metaphorical way, when Victor Hugo wrote Frollo's speech on how the printing press would destroy the church (ceci tuera cela) he was using hyperbole to make a point. Obviously the church itself was not literally destroyed. His point was that by allowing people to take the printed scripture into their home the physical church was going to suffer from it. The very base concept is that something which helped propel the religion into more homes could also chip away the relevance of one of its previously important facets. Frollo's position as a priest adds to this because if less people attend the physical church there is less money and incentive to maintain the physical church's structure. note  Fast forward to the earlier days of the internet you would have found people following on Frollo's coat tail with wondering could it do the same to the printed book or at least do some damage to elements contained in them? On one hand thanks to the internet it's a lot easier for us to get our eyes on the text of a work like "Hunchback" but with so many other distractions and options a lot of people would agree reading stories from the past is one of those facets of the printed book that has less prominence as before the internet. Exactly how many tropers are on this very page for the Disney film and have never read this story to know what this example is even about?

    The stage musical 
  • Author's Saving Throw: The gargoyles were by far the most unanimous criticism of the original film, as they served no purpose to the plot outside of comic relief that felt very out-of-place in the otherwise dark story. The fact that were proven to be alive in the climax was also criticized for being the only supernatural element of the plot. The stage adaptation keeps them, but makes it clear that their conversations are only in Quasimodo's head, and does away with the comic relief by instead having them voice the thoughts that Quasimodo won't say aloud.
  • Broken Base: Whether or not the musical keeping truer to the book's original ending by having Esmeralda really die at the end (averting the film's Disney Death) was a good decision or not is debated between viewers. Half disliked the film's original happy ending and were happy to see it, and felt it was more in-tone with the rest of the (mostly) grim and serious story. The other half that dislike the change feel that it wasn't properly set up and was simply made for the sake of being grim. Arguments generally boil down to whether the film was too lighthearted or the musical was too dark.
  • Catharsis Factor: In the original film, Quasimodo outright saves Frollo, and Frollo's death—falling from a crumbling gargoyle head as he tried to kill Esmeralda—was entirely his own fault. The stage musical changes this to have Quasimodo outright kill him by throwing him off the roof to avenge Esmeralda. Frollo's line of "And He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into the fiery pit!" is instead changed to Quasimodo's Badass Boast of "And the wicked shall not go unpunished!" It's an incredbily dark scene (and Quasimodo is crushed with grief afterwards) but it's just as satisfying as the original.
    Frollo: You don't want to hurt me!
    Chorus, to Quasimodo: Yes, you do.
  • Retroactive Recognition: The Dame la Jolla Playhouse version of the musical (now available on YouTube) is the version most fans are familiar with and features Patrick Page—who would later play Hades in the Broadway run of Hadestown—as Frollo.
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     The 1997 film 

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