Notre Dame Essay
Hugo began writing the novel The Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris two days before the Revolution – July 25, 1830, ending in early February 1831.
He sees the most expressive embodiment of the turning point depicted in the novel in the cathedral as a monument of architecture, in which the old forms, marked by the inviolability of dogmatic architectural traditions, began to be combined with new forms reflecting the origin and growth of opposition to the outdated traditions. The cathedral is not only the place in which, or in the immediate vicinity of, most of the novel’s action takes place. And not just his compositional center, which is drawn to him by all the story lines of the novel. In the third book and in the second chapter of the fifth book, which gives a detailed description of the architecture of medieval Paris, the cathedral grows to a majestic symbol that embodies the inexhaustible talent of the French people in the article about Quentin Dorward, defining life as a moody drama in which the well mixed and the evil, the beautiful and the ugly, Hugo, in the preface to Cromwell, added to this that the beautiful in the neighborhood of the ugly becomes purer and grander. It is in such a romantic contrast to Quasimodo, Guduli, Claude that the charming Esmeralda is portrayed. But despite all the external contradictions between her and Quasimodo, they have much in common, not only because of the romantic coincidence that Quasimodo once found himself in the cradle of Agnes-Esmeralda. If a gifted musician has died in it, Esmeralda is the most complete embodiment of folk talent, which is evident both in her dances and in her “witchcraft” with Jali’s goat. Like Quasimodo, she is capable of self-love, a passion that grew out of boundless gratitude (to Phenom Rothmaster). The girl’s deep humanity makes her a savior not only to Quasimodo, despite his unattractive role in the earlier events of her life, but also to the playwright Pierre Grengoir, “Fate and society were equally unjust to her” as well as to Quasimodo.
The spirit of disobedience and protest inherent in Esmeralda and the revived Quasimodo, and to some extent Guduli, is most fully felt in the collective image of the inhabitants of the Court of Wonders – the Paris plebs, whose queen is Esmeralda, and the short-time ruler, Quasimodo, – such was the people “, which at that time was no different than the” good Parisian commoners “and medieval sloth students like Jean Frollo. The author does not modernize and, moreover, does not idealize the medieval lower classes: they are cruel and superstitious, as in the quasimodo punishment scene, merciful and indifferent, as evidenced by Grengoir’s adventures in the Court of Wonders. This is as natural a consequence of the oppressed and disenfranchised situation of the medieval people as its anger against the oppressors, which has been felt since the first pages of the novel – in the mass scene waiting for the beginning of the mystery in honor of the Flemish ambassadors.
The novel constantly draws attention to the contrast between the moods of the Paris lower classes and the wealthy bourgeois depicted, as a rule, quite ironically. In the colorful, active social milieu of the novel, the immature French bourgeoisie plays an episodic role precisely because it is already detached from the lower reaches, and has not yet grown up to active anti-feudal positions.
The Cathedral of Our Lady of Paris becomes the pinnacle of unconditional revelation and condemnation of not only the church or the nobility, but also of all the feudal-medieval superstructure, many of which Hugo sees in France in his day. In particular, among the Parisian gendarmerie, which – “sorts out” the same methods as the Paris judges depicted in the novel; in a prison of the nineteenth century, where medieval traditions, ironically observed by the writer, are carefully preserved.
Good and evil in the novel, despite all the idealistic philosophical and historical concept of Hugo and the romantic exceptionality of characters and situations, has a very precise class address and quite specific socio-professional traits, which are associated with the romantic typification of the central images of the novel. And the background images, characters and circumstances of the historical background and especially the mass scenes are depicted in such a way that the means of the romantic-exceptional interact with the means of life, and sometimes give way to the latter. This is typical of the images of King, Coppenol, Jean, Phebe, and many episodic characters, such as the three mother-in-law, from whose conversations we learn about the history of Gudula.
All ideas for the artistic content of the work is confirmed by Hugo’s clearly articulated in the period of work on the novel, the conclusion reached by the writer under the influence of revolutionary events of this time: “Kings reign today, the people belong tomorrow.”
So we see that by creating pictures of the novel and giving them certain features of the hero’s behavior, the author tries to show that the life of the time is as colorful and special, colorful and fleeting as a carnival.