Looking back at Disney’s canon of animated features that dominate the hearts and minds of fans, it’s clear one film always gets relegated to the bottom of the list. And for a reason. The Hunchback of Notre Dame, the studio’s 1996 release featured memorable music and the voices of some of the biggest stars of the day (Demi Moore, Jason Alexander, and Kevin Kline, to name a few), but it was also the most adult in nature, with certain elements barely making the final cut.
The modern-day retelling of Victor Hugo’s 1831 tragic classic about Quasimodo’s longing for acceptance and love was watered down significantly for a younger audience and was released during the heyday of the Disney renaissance of the ’90. With music written and produced by the storied Alan Menken (you know, the same man responsible for the iconic music from The Little Mermaid, Beauty And The Beast, Aladdin, Pocahontas, Mulan, among others) the film earned Academy Award and Golden Globe nominations for the score. But it’s the film’s darker themes and messages that seem to have stuck with audiences, decades after the film’s release.
Even with a G rating from the MPAA, the film explored the more mature subject matter of religious persecution, sin, sexual desire, ableism, infanticide, Europe’s shameful history of antiziganism, and genocide, among others. All these become much more clear when watching the film back as an adult.
That said, fans of the Parisian-set animated feature don’t let that get in the way. So if you’re looking to reminisce or just want to jog your memory about all things Quasimodo, Esmeralda, and Frollo, we’ve gone ahead and rounded up the most memorable quotes from The Hunchback Of Notre Dame, a film that argues goodness always prevails over evil.
1. Frollo: “I feel her. I see her. The sun caught in her raven hair is blazing in me out of all control. Like fire. Hellfire. This fire in my skin. This burning desire is turning me to sin.”
2. Phoebus: “Speaking of trouble, we should have run into some by now.”
3. Quasimodo: “SANCTUARY!”
4. Frollo: “Hellfire, dark fire, now gypsy it’s your turn. Choose me or your pyre. Be mine or you will BURN!”
5. Laverne: [pigeons landing all over] “Don’t you ever migrate?!”
6. Clopin: “We find you totally innocent, which is the worst crime of all! So you’re going to pay!”
7. Phoebus: “Citizens of Paris! Frollo has persecuted our people, ransacked our city, and now he has declared war on Notre Dame herself! Will we allow it?”
8. Clopin: “Here in the Court of Miracles, it’s a miracle if you get out alive!”
9. Esmeralda: “I ask for nothing, I can get by. But I know so many less lucky than I.”
10. Esmeralda: “Then, it seems we’ve crowned the wrong fool! The only fool I see here, is you! [throws jester hat at Frollo’s direction]”
11. Hugo: “What Frollo doesn’t know can’t hurt you!”
12. Quasimodo: “If I picked a day to fly, this would be it!” [nests bird in his hands]
13. Archdeacon: “You can lie to yourself and your minions! You can claim that you haven’t a qualm! But you never can run from, nor hide what you’ve done from the eyes! [points to church statues] The very eyes of Notre Dame!”
14. Quasimodo: “I’m sorry, Master. I will never disobey you again.”
15. Esmeralda: “Are you always this charming, or am I just lucky?”
16. Esmeralda [to Frollo]: “You mistreat this poor boy the same way you mistreat my people. You speak of justice, yet you are cruel to those most in need of your help.”
17. Esmeralda: [to Quasimodo, unaware it’s his actual face] “By the way, great mask!”
18. Esmeralda: “How could such a cruel man have raised someone like you?”
19. Frollo: “Oh, my dear Quasimodo, you don’t know what it’s like out there. I do. I do…”
20. Frollo: “Such a clever witch. So typical of your kind to twist the truth; to cloud the mind with unholy thoughts!”
21. Clopin: “It is a tale, a tale of a man, and a monster…”
22. Phoebus: “Hmm? Uh-uh. You leave town for a couple of decades and they change everything.”
23. Phoebus: [to Quasimodo, when he refuses to leave the bell tower and warn Esmeralda] “She stood up for you! You’ve got a funny way of showing gratitude. Well, I’m not gonna sit by and watch Frollo massacre innocent people. You do what you think is right.”
24. Victor: “Perhaps he’s sick.”
Laverne: “Impossible. If twenty years of listening to you two hasn’t made him sick, nothing will!”
25. Hugo [to Victor]: “Hehehe, go scare a nun!”
26. Esmeralda: “What are you doing?”
Frollo: “I was just imagining a rope around your neck”
Esmeralda: “I know what you were imagining!”
Quotes from The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, the Book
Need even more? Keep reading for quotes from Victor Hugo’s classic novel.
1. “Love is like a tree: It grows by itself, roots itself deeply in our being, and continues to flourish over a heart in ruin. The inexplicable fact is that the blinder it is, the more tenacious it is. It is never stronger than when it is completely unreasonable.”
2. “Nothing makes a man so adventurous as an empty pocket.”
3. “Spira, spera [breathe, hope].”
4. “I wanted to see you again, touch you, know who you were, see if I could find you identical with the ideal image of you which had remained with me and perhaps shatter my dream with the aid of reality.”
5. “A one-eyed man is much more incomplete than a blind man, for he knows what it is that’s lacking.”
6. “You would have imagined her at one moment a maniac, at another a queen.”
7. “The saints were his friends, and blessed him; the monsters were his friends, and guarded him.”
8. “At the moment when her eyes closed, when all feeling vanished in her, she thought that she felt a touch of fire imprinted on her lips, a kiss more burning than the red-hot iron of the executioner.”
9. “To a gargoyle on the ramparts of Notre Dame as Esmeralda rides off with Gringoire Quasimodo says, ‘Why was I not made of stone like thee?'”
10. “His judgment demonstrates that one can be a genius and understand nothing of an art that is not one’s own.”
11. “He left her. She was dissatisfied with him. He had preferred to incur her anger rather than cause her pain. He had kept all the pain for himself.”
12. “The greatest products of architecture are less the works of individuals than of society; rather the offspring of a nation’s effort, than the inspired flash of a man of genius.”
13. “He found that man needs affection, that life without a warming love is but a dry wheel, creaking and grating as it turns.”
14. “That protection for a creature so unfortunate should have come from another creature so deformed, that a condemned girl should have been saved by Quasimodo, this too had its poignancy.”
15. “Do you know what friendship is?’ he asked.
‘Yes,’ replied the gypsy; ‘it is to be brother and sister; two souls which touch without mingling, two fingers on one hand.’
‘And love?’ pursued Gringoire.
‘Oh! love!’ said she, and her voice trembled, and her eye beamed. ‘That is to be two and to be but one. A man and a woman mingled into one angel. It is heaven.”
16. “He, therefore, turned to mankind only with regret. His cathedral was enough for him. It was peopled with marble figures of kings, saints and bishops who at least did not laugh in his face and looked at him with only tranquillity and benevolence. The other statues, those of monsters and demons, had no hatred for him – he resembled them too closely for that. It was rather the rest of mankind that they jeered at. The saints were his friends and blessed him; the monsters were his friends and kept watch over him. He would sometimes spend whole hours crouched before one of the statues in solitary conversation with it. If anyone came upon him then he would run away like a lover surprised during a serenade.”
17. “You asked me why I saved you. You have forgotten a villain who tried to carry you off one night,— a villain to whom the very next day you brought relief upon their infamous pillory. A drop of water and a little pity are more than my whole life can ever repay. You have forgotten that villain; but he remembers.”
18. “I never realized my ugliness till now. When I compared myself with you, I pity myself indeed, poor unhappy monster that I am! I must seem to you like some awful beast, eh? You,-you are a sunbeam, a drop of dew, a bird’s song! As for me, I am something frightful, neither man nor beast,- a nondescript object, more hard, shapeless, and more trodden under foot than a pebble!”
19. “‘Dost thou understand? I love thee!’ he cried again. ‘What love!’ said the unhappy girl with a shudder. He resumed,—’The love of a damned soul.’”