I ship Esmeralda/Phoebus like nobody’s business. They are one of my OTPs. So nothing gets me madder than when I hear that Esmeralda should have picked Quasi. Okay, let’s be real, there are plenty of things that make me angrier–I do have a life–but for the sake of argument, NOTHING MAKES ME MADDER.
The Hunchback of Notre Dame features three dudes that are madly “in love” with Esmeralda. It’s time to break down each three of these guys, their feelings, and why Esmeralda was meant to with the Sun God. *eye roll*
For obvious reasons, Frollo is a psychopath and no one should ever be with him. Ever, ever, ever!
Frollo is manipulative, evil, and just crazy. He obsesses over Esmeralda, he professes to hate her and her people, and he’s interest in her is purely unhealthy. He fantasizes about her and takes his obsession to a whole new level by burning Paris to the ground. He’s just not a good, dude.
- Frollo tells Quasi that gypsies are evil
- Frollo takes pleasure in trapping Esmeralda in the cathedral and then has his very creepy scene where he “imagines a rope around that beautiful neck,” though that’s actually a crappy euphemism
- Umm… all of Hellfire
- When he tells Esmeralda she can still “choose him” as she’s tied to a poll and about to BURN
Frollo is literally the definition of an entitled, misogynistic dude. Esmeralda rejected him so he tried to have her put to death. Her and everyone she cared about. Worse, he blamed her for everything he was doing. She tempted me, she’s evil, she shouldn’t have danced that way, she shouldn’t BREATHE that way.
I don’t think much time really needs to be given to outlining reasons why Frollo is actually the worst.
Here we have a victim of Frollo’s abuse. Because of Frollo, Quasi has grown up isolated and lonely. He was manipulated his entire life into fearing the world and its inhabitants. Frollo made Quasi uncomfortable in his own skin, ashamed of how he looked. Like I said, Frollo is just the worst.
Esmeralda is the first decent person Quasi meets. She is kind to him, unafraid of his looks (though she first assumes he’s wearing a mask), and pretty. Let’s be honest, Esmeralda being pretty is a big part of why he likes her—at least at first. He falls into her tent while she’s changing and is stunned into silence when he sees her, despite the fact she’s scolding him. But then she stands up for him, the only person in a crowd to do so. Then it becomes her kindness that infatuates him because, again, she’s the first decent person he’s ever met.
Quasi is craving love. He’s been denied it his whole life. Esmeralda could have been anyone for him, it just happened to be her. Evidence: after Quasi helps her escape and is confronted by Frollo, Quasi says, “She was kind to me, master.”
Quasi would love anyone that shows him an ounce of kindness.
But Quasi doesn’t know how to love since no one has ever loved him and taught him what it means. Instead, Quasi idolizes her. “Heaven’s Light,” as beautiful as it is, is about Esmeralda saving Quasi, making her an angel. Before we get to some of the lyrics, I just want to mention a quote by John Green: What a treacherous thing to believe that a person is more than a person. People are people, with good parts and bad parts, and no one has the power to save another. Okay, onto the lyrics:
But suddenly an angel has smiled at me
And kissed my cheek without a trace of fright
Esmeralda is actually called an angel in the narrative, that’s not just me giving her the status to prove a point. Quasi sees her as an angel that’s come to change his life.
So many times out here
I’ve watched a happy pair
Of lovers walking in the night
They had a kind of glow around them
It almost looked like heaven’s light
Quasi has been longing for love his whole life. He’s been watching Paris from his bell tower and been able to create his own stories for everyone. He even makes models of the familiar faces for his mini-town. The point is, Quasi is craving for it, desperate.
I knew I’d never know
That warm and loving glow
Though I might wish with all my might
Love is not meant for him. Frollo brainwashed him. But then he meets Esmeralda and she shows him kindness and with that first inkling, he is hooked. He latches onto her because she’s the first person to ever look past his exterior.
His gargoyle friends fill his mind with romance stories, despite Esmeralda treating him as a friend and confidant. She opens up to him, gives him her necklace and actually calls him “my friend,” at one point.
Both Quasi and Esmeralda need friends. Esmeralda dances on the streets to get by and her community is being persecuted. Quasi has seriously damaged self-esteem issues and is “cared” for by an abusive “parent.” They both need support systems. Their friendship is important to both of their welfare.
Their friendship is so important to Quasi moving forward. She and Phoebus are the first positive relationships in his life. They give him confidence, help rebuild his self-esteem. Of course he has a long road to go before he’s in a healthy place, but you can never love until you love yourself. Quasi was not able to love when he met Esmeralda, but her friendship was instrumental in getting him to a good place after years of mistreatment.
MY BABY! I mean *cough*
Like Quasi, Phoebus is drawn to Esmeralda because of her looks. He sees her dancing and is all, “Oh, yeah, hellooooo.” But then he sees her getting harassed by Frollo’s guards and steps in, totally reeled in as she defends herself and then slips away. Phoebus likes his strong ladies that take no shit from authority. When he returns her coins, Esmeralda and Djali are both taken aback, and here my friends is the start of a beautiful ship.
But let’s backtrack a little. Phoebus is different from Frollo and Quasi for a number of reasons. Phoebus is an accomplished soldier. He’s got a career. He’s relatively stable, not like Quasi that has no control over his life, or Frollo that, well… is not stable in any sense of the word. He has seen the world, or some of it, I’m assuming. He’s got opinions. He clearly doesn’t see anything to fear in the gypsies since he questions Frollo’s decision to remove him from the front lines to police Paris. He’s tolerant.
Now back to my ship. The next time he sees her, yes, he’s probably drawn to her looks since she’s dancing. But like Esmeralda, he wants to stop the harassment happening to Quasi. Because he’s a soldier, he feels bound to obey Frollo’s orders and doesn’t intervene. However, when Esmeralda does, fearless, his attraction is cemented.
Their first conversation happens in the cathedral and oh my gosh, it is full of my favorite things: wit, banter, initial dislike on one party’s side. I can’t help but grin like an idiot watching it.
Where Phoebus liked Esmeralda’s courage at the festival, Esmeralda is thrown by his refusal to arrest her. They both see qualities in each other they hadn’t expected to.
Switching gears a bit, Phoebus isn’t threatened by Quasi, while Quasi is of Phoebus. It’s definitely not because Phoebus doesn’t see him as a rival because of how he looks or anything shallow like that. Phoebus recognizes that Quasi is her friend and he’s glad for that. He’s not one of those guys that gets insecure if his girlfriend so much as looks at another man. He’s not even angry when Quasi treats him with the same contempt that Esmeralda did because he’s a soldier. He’s just happy Esmeralda has people in her life that care about her safety that much. *SWOON*
And then, of course, there is a scene that melts my heart: when Phoebus refuses to burn the home of an innocent family.
Frollo’s just batshit crazy at this point and Phoebus has already witnessed him torturing gypsies and throwing their caravans into the Siene while they’re locked inside. The montage pans to his face a few times, his disagreement evident on his face. His conditioning as a soldier is hard to break, but he finally does.
He’s not doing it to impress Esmeralda. He doesn’t even know she’s there. He’s ready to die for his insubordination and still has his sass even facing his own death. But then Esmeralda saves her bf, because duh.
Phoebus continues to prove himself by trying to warn Esmeralda and the gypsies about Frollo’s plan and wants Quasi to come with him since he’s her friend and she needs him. Again, he’s not one of those possessive, domineering men. He respects Esmeralda and the people she chooses as friends.
And that’s why this ship is the best ship.