So for a very long time people have been complaining about the ending to Disney’s version of Hunchback of Notre Dame, because in this version>! Esmeralda lives and in the original book version that it’s based off of, Esmeralda dies.!<
But I feel like people who base whether or not the ending is good because it adheres to the book are missing the forest for the trees, because they don’t seem to understand that the book had different intentions than the movie. I don’t think it’s a secret, but the original author of Hunchback of Notre Dame, Victor Hugo, made the book with his largest concern being the preservation of historical architecture, specifically of Notre Dame. He wanted to highlight the history of the people who used it, such as all the characters, and show how while the characters may die, Notre Dame perseveres. The rights of minorities and the mistreatment were not even really on his list of major concerns when he wrote that book.
Some may argue that little should change in order to stay faithful to the book, but that argument does not hold up either considering it was actually Victor Hugo who wrote the first playwrite and major retelling with different plot elements of Hunchback being completely changed. Victor Hugo himself does not care about completely adhering to the original book he wrote, which means he likely wouldn’t care if people change it for their own retelling.
Now, I’m going to get to the specific reason why I think the ending to Disney’s version is so great.
>!So in the movie there are three main male figures around Esmeralda. One is Frollo, who is the antagonist who seeks to completely own and control Esmeralda because he can’t control his own lust for her. He sees her as a evil temptress that must be destroyed, or owned. Quasimodo is perhaps the main protagonist, but I’d argue Esmeralda could be equally a protagonist, but he sees Esmeralda as an angel because she treated him with compassion and saw him as an equal unlike anybody else in his life. For this, he falls in love with her. The third figure is Phoebus, the captain of the guard, who also is in love with Esmeralda, and who Esmeralda ultimately falls in love with back. The reason why it’s so important that Esmeralda lives in the end is because it has to show what makes Quasimodo a good person versus Frollo, who is evil. His good nature of not trying to hold onto Esmeralda and understand that she, along with all humans, should be able to love whoever they love and be free and not possessed is exactly what the opposite of Frollo would do. Frollo needed to possess her, while Quasimodo didn’t. If Esmeralda dies, you can’t have that moment.!<
Disney’s version of the story has an important message about inequality and good versus evil. The original story was just about how it’s important for history to keep architecture preserved.