The hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasimodo is an abandoned child left at Notre Dame and adopted by Archdeacon Claude Frollo. Hideously deformed, he has a giant humpback, a protrusion coming out of his chest, and a giant wart that covers one of his eyes. He is also deaf. His heart is pure, and this purity is linked to the cathedral itself. Indeed, his love for Notre Dame's bells and for the beautiful sound of their ringing represents his only form of communication. The whole of Paris ironically enjoys Quasimodo's singing while at the same time detesting him for his ugliness. His name literally means "half-made."
A priest at Notre Dame, Frollo is also the novel's antagonist. However, he is not a typical evil character bent on causing pain and suffering; instead, he is very bright and compassionate. He dearly loves his brother, Jehan and does everything in his power to make Jehan happy after their parents die. He extends the same compassion to Quasimodo, who he tries to mold into a scholar just like his brother by teaching him how to read and write. Hugo explains Frollo's descent into black magic and madness through his failure to bring up both Jehan and Quasimodo. Jehan drinks and gambles all his money away, completely neglecting his studies, while Quasimodo's deafness makes it virtually impossible to teach him anything. The hunchback thus becomes both a symbol of failure for Frollo as well as a powerful tool of vengeance to wreak his frustrations out on the world. His obsessive lust for La Esmerelda causes her to be executed and Quasimodo to be tortured. No matter how hard he tries to make her love him, he only ends up causing her pain.
The lost daughter of Sister Gudule, La Esmerelda is a beautiful gypsy street dancer. Along with her goat, Djali, she charms everyone she meets with her stunning looks and magic tricks. She keeps an amulet and other trinkets around her neck to help her find her parents.
A struggling playwright and philosopher. La Esmerelda saves him from being hanged by a group of vagabonds and agrees to "marry" him for four years. He later joins the vagabonds and unwittingly helps Frollo hand La Esmerelda over to the authorities.
The captain of the King's Archers, he saves La Esmerelda from Quasimodo. He does not love her, but tries to seduce her and a number of other women as well. Frollo stabs him and everyone leaves him for dead. He recovers but fails to speak up when La Esmerelda is sentenced to death for his murder. He ends up marrying Fleur-de-Lys de Gondelaurier. His first name is Greek for "the sun."
La Esmerelda's long lost mother. She is a miserable recluse living in the Tour Roland, who hates to hear the sound of children playing. She is convinced that gypsies ate her adoptive daughter, Agnes, fifteen years earlier. She hates La Esmerelda and is convinced that she is a child thief, but when she learns that she is actually her daughter, Gudule gives her life to save her.
Claude Frollo's brother. Jehan is a horrible student who gambles and drinks all his money away. He decides to join the vagabonds and Quasimodo kills him as he attacks Notre Dame.
Clopin disrupts Gringoire's play and later turns out to be not just a simple beggar, but "King" of the vagabonds. He tries to save La Esmerelda from being hanged but Quasimodo thinks that Clopin is trying to kill her.
The King of France in 1482. Louis XI is a heartless monarch who lives in the Bastille instead of the Louvre. He pardons Gringoire for attacking Notre Dame but orders La Esmerelda's execution.
La Esmerelda's goat. Djali can perform magic tricks and spell the name Phoebus out of a group of letters. At La Esmerelda's trial Djali is accused of being possessed by the devil.
One of Phoebus's admirers, she later becomes his wife. She also humiliates La Esmerelda by mocking her clothes.
The deaf judge who condemns Quasimodo to torture.
One of Claude Frollo's associates. Jacques prosecutes and then tortures La Esmerelda to get her to confess to killing Phoebus. He later has her executed.