The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo / Book Review

Recently I read Falling by Emma Kavanagh, and there was a sentence in the book: It would have been so funny if it was not so damn sad. I don’t know if it is an original sentence because I cannot recollect where, but I have heard the sentence somewhere — but the point is that it describes The Hunchback of Notre Dame by Victor Hugo perfectly.

All those events happening in the book were hilarious — a priest falling in love with a gypsy, sacrificing all his hard-earned respect and authority to get a girl, the king of fools deformed man who becomes the savior of the gypsy and fights the entire army alone, and then goes against his brother, knowing that the girl cannot even look at his ridiculous face, husband of gypsy who prefer goat over girl, and wild crowd cheering for death, and finally the king himself — it all build up a bizarre incident.

But it is terribly sad. Let’s explore.

the hunchback of notre dame book review bookaapi

It’s not about Hunchback

The title can be misleading. Hunchback is not in the book that much. To clarify, I read the unabridged version, and I think I should have read the abridged version. Because I am really not that interested learning about Paris.

The book’s central figure is Notre Dame. Not the Hunchback. If you go into it to find a tragic tale, you would have to go through a detailed description of how Paris was built, its culture, its architecture, market, and environment, and then Victor Hugo describes Notre Dame in absurd detail.

For many, those chapters could be boring, and for many, those chapters are the highlight of the book. The story is kind of inspired by Beauty and the Beast. However, there are two beasts here — one is ugly from the inside, and another one is ugly from the outside. Both fail to win the girl — and the reason seems to be that the girl likes the man in uniform. The man, though, forgets about her after one half-night–stand.

But I am not going to look at that angle because I believe my opinion would be incorrect. But let me summarise the story as I read it so you can make up your mind.

The Hunchback of Notre Dame summary

There is a girl. Amazingly wild and carefree girl. She is totally ‘not like other girls’ type girl.

A priest who believes in God and Science and thinks biology is stupidity — he fall in love at first sight. However, if it was love or lust, it cannot be decided because if it was lust, he could have easily assaulted her. But he keeps trying to make her fall in love with him, by force, though. He does not have any rizz.

Then there is Hunchback, an ugly creature, with deformed body, deaf but powerful. He also falls in love with her, but I guess he is in love with her kindness, as she was the only one who showed some compassion towards him.

The girl falls in love with the Captain of the City Watch. Priest attacks the Captain, and the Watch blames it on the girl. The girl is given the death punishment. Hunchback protects her by giving her sanctuary in Notre Dame (which is some ancient rule, so anyone taken to the sanctuary is protected by King, and if you attack the girl, you are against the King).

To say more will be spoiling the ending.

What does this mean?

After reading the book, I thought about what I would write in the review. What the book explores, except Paris. The answer is a big blank.

I do not have anything to explain or uncover here. The book is pretty straightforward. Victor tells you all about Paris and Notre Dame, and then it tells you the story of people falling in love with a crazy girl and how it destroys each one’s life. There is no happy ending for anyone in this book. Everyone suffers. They all were complicated characters.

Maybe that is what the story means — a young girl falling prey to the 3 men. Each wanted her to love him; one wanted kindness, one wanted love, and one wanted the body.

Or it could be the fall of a good, kind-hearted man when the love strikes. Or it could be how once you fall in love, all other things become so irrelevant that you give up them in an instant. Or love could give you the courage to go against the one you could never go.

The priest goes against his lessons and religious ideologies — and the deformed man goes against his creator (the one who adopted him, gave him food and a place to stay, the one who understands him). One is breaking the religion, while the second one is kind of fighting God in his little metaphorical way. Or it could be that it does not matter if you are the most respected person or the most disgusted person; you cannot win love by force or by kindness. It has to come naturally, and the girl does not love any of them.

Do I recommend The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

Yes… However, if you are not interested in getting a lecture on Paris, please buy an abridged version. It would be much better edited.

Book Sumamry
The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Book review of The Hunchback of Notre Dame and exploration of what was this book supposed to say?

Author: Victor Hugo

Editor's Rating:

Faizan Fahim

Hello, welcome to this blog. Just writing reviews of the book I like. Also, favorite quotes, poetry, memes, sometimes other topics too, but always related to literature. So join me on Twitter to talk to me.

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