The Hunchback of Notre-Dame: Novel Summary: Book VIII Chapter 4

The guards deposit Esmeralda in one of the most remote and subterranean cells of the Tournelle. She is encased in darkness and cold and her spirit is utterly broken. Occasionally the jailer drops her a bit of moldy bread. The only sound is that of water dripping into a puddle on the floor of the cell. After some time a shrouded priest comes to visit her. He remarks her miserable condition and offers his hand but she recoils at its icy chill and then recognizes the demon priest (Claude Frollo) who has pursued her for so long. She recoils from him and he asks if she has a horror of him. She answers that he has caused all of her past and present misery. She asks what he wants of her and he falls to his knees and declares that he loves her. He recounts his long struggle to resist the lure of females, feelings long stifled in his nature, and concludes that he was successful until he saw her and his world began to crumble under the weight of her beauty. He tells her that he believes she was sent from hell to destroy him. He suffered under her spell. He had her prohibited from dancing in front of Notre Dame but she ignored the decree. He tried to kidnap her but the officer prevented it. Finally, he denounced her and began weaving a web around her that, though he balked at its execution from time to time, he soon began to perceive as the inexorable will of fate. Finally, he confesses to her that he has witnessed her trial and torture. He shows her wounds on his chest that he inflicted upon himself while she was being tortured. He asserts that his soul has found no reprieve from her. He begs her to have pity upon him and show him some act of tenderness. Esmeralda whispers “O my Phoebus” which drives the priest into hysterics. He implores her not to utter that name and promises to take her away to some remote sunny spot where they can live out their lives as lovers. Esmeralda laughs and points to the blood on his fingers. She asks what has become of Phoebus and he asserts that the officer is dead. She says that since Phoebus is dead she is content to die as well. She pushes him from the cell and curses him to hell.