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Man’s Eternal Search for Affection Explored in The Hunchback of Notre Dame

Victor Hugo penned a fantastic, picturesque story of passion and the human spirit in The Hunchback of Notre Dame. The dramatic emotions of the characters play out on the stage of fifteenth century Paris, France. Quasimodo, a repugnant physical defect of nature, lived severed from human contact, excepting that of the solemnly aloof priest, Claude Frollo. For his part, Frollo strove for knowledge until he encountered the captivatingly gorgeous gypsy dancer, Esmeralda. She existed solely to adore an arrogant captain of the King’s Archers, named Phoebus de Chateaupers, for saving her from being kidnapped. Enticed by Esmeralda’s dancing to the depths of his being, Frollo outwardly denounced her as a sacrilegious sorceress, but his body raged for her out of lust, accounting for his repeated attempts at having her prohibited from dancing near the cathedral, or stolen away. Esmeralda, furiously in love with Phoebus, nearly sacrificed her virtue to gain his heart, before Frollo gravely wounded him. Tortured into confessing witchcraft and condemned to die by a court with church officials, the gypsy enchantress obtained sanctuary in Notre Dame cathedral, rescued from the hangman’s noose by Quasimodo. At this point, Frollo attempted to claim Esmeralda’s merciful and virtuous heartfelt forgiveness for his passion, failing miserably because his efforts appeared feeble and lascivious. Frollo and Esmeralda perished, however, after a storming of the cathedral and gruesome battle, dying sacrifices on the altar of human emotion.

How emotion may exist in a studious and solemn man, having only acquired knowledge of books for a score of years, seems impossible. But desire for Esmeralda arrived after Frollo had “discovered that a man needs affection …

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…her temptation had accomplished this; therefore her cruel effect must have been fate. As she awaited death, one character noticed the incidence of destiny when she remarked that “‘God has it all written down in His book’” (182). One aspect of Victor Hugo’s work, his revelations of themes, philosophies, and morals through humorous characters, seems reminiscent of Sir Walter Scott’s usage of a comparable pretext. Through the philosopher/poet, Gringoire, Hugo presents a moral that “‘the temptations of the flesh are pernicious and malignant’” (276). Certainly there exists some truth to this supposition on a central idea of the novel, the animosity stirred by mortal sensitivity, that during man’s eternal search for affection–even when he possesses it, he still craves more.


Hugo, Victor. Notre Dame de Paris. Paris, France. (publisher unknown). 1831.

One Hundred Years of Solitude/Cien Anos de Soledad : The Buendía Family

One Hundred Years of Solitude/Cien Anos de Soledad : The Buendía Family

Bibliography w/3 sources The family is at the center of Latin American society. It provides a sense of stability amidst economic and political instability. Blood ties often become business contacts, and keeping in touch with as many relatives as possible is an economic advantage.

The male is the dominant figure in Latin American families. He supports the family financially and decides the family’s residence. As a result of his authority, he is often distant from his children (Barroa 75). He must prove himself muy macho (very much a man) through the conquest of several women (74). In fact, many Latin American men maintain separate houses from their family with a mistress (74). Poet Octavia Paz comments on machismo, saying that the ideal male “must never give in,’ that is, allow the exterior world to penetrate his interior self, his maleness” (74).

In Latin America, the female runs the household (74). She educates the children and manages the finances. As a result, the Latin American family is matriarchal. Whereas the father is distant, the mother is “linked with love and proximity” and has a greater influence on the children (75).

The Buendías of One Hundred Years of Solitude fit this model in several ways. Family ties are strong within the family. Everyone lives in the same house. One of two family names–Aureliano and José Arcadio– is passed down to all male Buendías.

The men in the novel fit into one of two categories (Bell-Villida 95). The José Arcadios are on one side of the spectrum, exhibiting an extreme form of machismo. When they make a decision, no one…

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… strong, and the men are either muy macho or extremely remote from the rest of the family. However, the Buendías digress from this model in several instances. The men are not family leaders, and the women take on the traditional roles of both parents in the family. Another key deviation from the traditional family structure is the Buendías’ failure to form relationships with the community. They resort to incest, a digression from the norm which possibly causes the eventual destruction of the Buendía clan.


Bell-Villada, Gene H. Garcia Marquez: The Man and His Work. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1990.

Gonzalez, Anibal. “Translation and genealogy: One Hundred Years of Solitude.” In McGuirk and Cardwell, 65-79.

James, Regina. Gabriel Garcia Marquez: Revolutions in Wonderland. Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1981.

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