The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: Novel Summary: Book VI Analysis
Quasimodo's trial functions as a thematic parallel to the play that opened the novel. In both instances the crowd's hunger for entertainment undermines the effectiveness of the proceedings. Jehan Frollo, whose witty exhortations entertain both audiences, revels in the spotlight and shows obvious pleasure in mocking the judge. Hugo uses the trial, in which one deaf man tries another, as an opportunity to offer a critique of justice during the middle-ages that his contemporary readers would have recognized as similar to the corruption and hypocrisy inherent to their own system of justice. The story of Paquette and the later realization that she is the Sachette explains her hatred of the gypsies and creates sympathy. Most significantly, we learn that she worships the small red shoe that is the only surviving relic of her daughter. The section ends with Quasimodo's punishment and Esmeralda's act of kindness that brings tears to his eyes. Quasimodo understands that he has been shown kindness by the very person he is being punished for trying to kidnap and the tear he sheds, the only one of his ordeal, reveals the depth of his emotion.