First thoughts right after watching the Movie
My first thoughts right after watching the movie is that there is a nice dynamic between the two of them. I never understood the claims that she was using him and leading him on, but because she is experienced and he isn’t regarding the world, their interpretations of their interactions are different. Neither one of them doubt the other, or get mad at the other, though there is probable doubt and reason for them to be.
Their first interaction is in the song “Topsy Turvy”, where Quasimodo accidentally crashes into her tent, where Esmeralda is changing for her upcoming performance. She asks him if he’s fine, and isn’t hurt. Esmeralda does not react to his face (while her goat does), and gently escorts him out, telling him to be careful, and complimenting him on his “mask”. Obviously she doesn’t see him as the most attractive person, but it is not a judgement at all.
Quasimodo sees her next when Esmeralda starts her dance performance, and while he is impressed with her moves, he is not obnoxiously lustful as everyone else is. He squirms shyly when she winks at him, so obviously Esmeralda holds some interest or mystery in him as a person. She brings him on the stage, having a feeling that he will win, but is completely shocked when it was not a mask, and clearly feels horribly. We all know what happens after Quasimodo has won the Topsy Turvy competition of the ugliest face, and Esmeralda walks back to the stage after changing into her normal attire.
Doing this causes her to hide in Notre Dame, and to be stuck in sanctuary. After this, Esmeralda rants to the Archdeacon, seeing Quasimodo as a “poor, defenseless boy”, where people continue to put them down instead of helping him up. Esmeralda has her song, and Quasimodo overhears her singing about being an outcast. This causes him to walk down to the main area of Notre Dame, and after he is ridiculed, Quasimodo runs to his room, and Esmeralda follows him.
We all know that things start to turn for the worst, as the Gargoyles start to implement that Esmeralda likes him. She wants to speak to him, and apologizes again, though stops herself after seeing the model of the city he created. They talk about his beautiful, and Esmeralda states that if she had talent like his (she clearly does not think much of herself), she wouldn’t be dancing on the streets, while he compliments her dancing. Quasimodo shows her the bells, and the view of Paris, which astounds Esmeralda.
He helps her escape the tower, and Esmeralda offers for him to join her with the other gypsies, Quasi claims that he can’t leave the church, while she offers him to visit him in the evening. He rambles on and on, and she kisses him on the cheek. I know people have said that she was seducing him, and using his romantic feelings for her, but it was a motherly kiss on the cheeks. Many women kiss their friends on the cheeks, and especially people who are overtly motherly to almost everyone they are with. And she clearly intended to keep in contact with him.
Now we have to deal with the gargoyles obnoxiously claiming that she is in love with him, which leads to the song “Heaven’s Light”. Quasimodo sings about how he wishes he was like one of the couples who has a glow around them. He compares this glow to Heaven’s Light, and how he knew he would never experience it,until he met her. The kiss on the cheek is mentioned, as she did it without fright. Now he is singing that his cold, dark tower seems bright, so his lack of experience is seeing her friendly antics as something romantic, since no one has interacted with it. If only there was more of this psychological focus was in Tangled.
Frollo enters to eat with Quasimodo, and he sees how the young man is very on edge, and fidgety, causing Frollo to lose it on him for helping her escape. What is interesting is that Quasimodo is bitter against Phoebus, but not Esmeralda. He has his reservations, because even if he does save her, she has her knight in shining armour, but of course he joins Phoebus to find her, but not for him.
Esmeralda saves Quasimodo and Phoebus from being hung by the gypsies, telling them that they both helped out out. They are all captured, and he is sulking miserably about the fate of them all, before he breaks through all of the chains to save Esmeralda from being burned.
Esmeralda finally recovers from her smoke inhalation, and he scopes her up to run from Frollo, who took out his large sword to kill them both. She makes it on the surface, and grabs Quasimodo before he is about to fall, but fails to hold him up. This causes her to scream, thinking he died, only to see two arms grab her. For some odd reason, she could see from above that Phoebus grabbed him, so Esmeralda rushes to the main floor, and hugs him, before he places her hands with Phoebus. This is clearly his way of showing them acceptance of their relationship. He hides in Notre Dame, while the crowd cheers on the couple, but Esmeralda runs back inside to bring him out.
Overall, Quasimodo and Esmeralda is easily the best interaction in the entire film, and there is a bunch of sincerity between them, as both of them are not as what they appear to be by others. It is easily the centerfold of the entire film, and I am glad they did not force them into a couple, like they did with every other male-female interaction in the era.