In fact, the preface to Cromwell, as an important statement of the tenets of Romanticism, has proved far more important than the play itself. Hugo immediately retorted with Hernani, the first performance of which, on Feb. In this play Hugo extolled the Romantic hero in the form of a noble outlaw at war with society, dedicated to a passionate love and driven on by inexorable fate.
While Hugo had derived his early renown from his plays, he gained wider fame in with his historical novel Notre-Dame de Paris Eng. The novel condemns a society that, in the persons of Frollo the archdeacon and Phoebus the soldier, heaps misery on the hunchback Quasimodo and the gypsy girl Esmeralda. While Notre-Dame was being written, Louis-Philippe, a constitutional king, had been brought to power by the July Revolution. It was a forerunner of much of his political verse. In his verse political and philosophical problems were integrated with the religious and social disquiet of the period; one poem evoked the misery of the workers, another praised the efficacy of prayer.
He addressed many poems to the glory of Napoleon, though he shared with his contemporaries the reversion to republican ideals. There were two motives for this: first, he needed a platform for his political and social ideas, and, second, he wished to write parts for a young and beautiful actress, Juliette Drouet, with whom he had begun a liaison in Juliette had little talent and soon renounced the stage in order to devote herself exclusively to him, becoming the discreet and faithful companion she was to remain until her death in This play was at first banned but was later used by Giuseppe Verdi as the libretto of his opera Rigoletto.
Ruy Blas, a play in verse, appeared in and was followed by Les Burgraves in Enforced at the beginning, exile later became a voluntary gesture and, after the amnesty of , an act of pride. He remained in Brussels for a year until, foreseeing expulsion, he took refuge on British territory. He first established himself on the island of Jersey, in the English Channel, where he remained from to When he was expelled from there, he moved to the neighbouring island of Guernsey. During this exile of nearly 20 years he produced the most extensive part of all his writings and the most original.
This collection of poems unleashed his anger against the new emperor and, on a technical level, freed him from his remaining classical prejudices and enabled him to achieve the full mastery of his poetic powers. Despite the satisfaction he derived from his political poetry, Hugo wearied of its limitations and, turning back to the unpublished poems of —50, set to work on the volume of poetry entitled Les Contemplations This work contains the purest of his poetry—the most moving because the memory of his dead daughter is at the centre of the book, the most disquieting, also, because it transmits the haunted world of a thinker.
The many poems that make up this epic display all his spiritual power without sacrificing his exuberant capacity to tell a story. Its extraordinary success with readers of every type when it was published in brought him instant popularity in his own country, and its speedy translation into many languages won him fame abroad. The story centres on the convict Jean Valjean, a victim of society who has been imprisoned for 19 years for stealing a loaf of bread. A hardened and astute criminal upon his release, he eventually softens and reforms, becoming a successful industrialist and mayor of a northern town.
Yet he is stalked obsessively by the detective Javert for an impulsive, regretted former crime, and Jean Valjean eventually sacrifices himself for the sake of his adopted daughter, Cosette, and her husband, Marius.
The Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo
He became a deputy in the National Assembly but resigned the following month. Though he still fought for his old ideals, he no longer possessed the same energies. In , two years after the death of his faithful companion Juliette, Hugo died and was given a national funeral. The recognition of Hugo as a great poet at the time of his death was followed by a period of critical neglect. The generosity of his ideas and the warmth of their expression still moved the public mind, for Hugo was a poet of the common man and knew how to write with simplicity and power of common joys and sorrows.
Hugo is one of those rare writers who excites both popular and academic audiences alike.
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It presents a vivid tableau of life in fifteenth century Paris, a city teeming with noble festivities, grotesque revelries, mob uprisings, and public executions, all of which take place around Notre-Dame de Paris. Hugo devotes two chapters to the description of the gothic church, bringing the reader into the very soul of Notre-Dame.
From the dizzying heights of its stony gaze, he offers the reader a subjective view of Paris. Quasimodo's fate is sealed when he is abandoned at birth by his mother on the steps of Notre-Dame. Adopted by the Archdeacon Claude Frollo, Quasimodo becomes bellringerof the tower, hiding his grotesque, hunchbacked figure away from prying Parisian eyes. Frollo is consumed by forbidden lust for the beautiful gypsy Esmeralda, who dances on the square below the cathedral. He convinces Quasimodo to kidnap her, but his attempts are foiled by the captain of the King's Archers, Phoebus, who also falls for Esmeralda.
Quasimodo is imprisoned for the crime, and is abused and humiliated by his captors.
After a particularly brutal flogging, he is tended to by Esmeralda who gives him water. From this point on, Quasimodo is hopelessly devoted to her. With all three characters under her spell, a dramatic tale of love and deceit ensues. The love obsessed Frollo spies on Phoebus and Esmeralda, stabbing the former in a jealous rage.
Esmeralda is arrested and condemned to death for his murder, and despite a brave rescue attempt by Quasimodo is later hanged. Quasimodo, seeing Esmeralda hanging lifeless from the gallows, cries out, "There is all I loved. In this masterpiece of romantic writing, Hugo tells of the love of a grotesquely ugly, hunchbacked deaf-mute for a mysteriously beautiful gypsy dancer. The compelling theme of the novel is that God has created in man an imperfect image of Himself, an image fettered with numerous handicaps, but one which has the potential to transcend its limitations and achieve spiritual greatness.
Principal Characters Quasimodo ka-ze-mo'do , a bellringer abandoned in infancy at Notre Dame Cathedral on Quasimodo Sunday, and now deaf from the din of the bells he rings. He is also unspeakably ugly, with tusk-like teeth and a wen over one eye, bristling red hair and eyebrows, and a snoutlike nose. Because of his horrible appearance, the Paris crowd selects him King of Fools for the Epiphany celebrations of During the carnival he sees Esmer-alda, the gypsy who dances before him.
When he is later pilloried and beaten, she brings him a drink.
From then on he is her devoted slave and on several occasions saves her from Archdeacon Frollo, his benefactor. When she is hanged, through Frollo's scheming, he hurls the priest from the bell tower, then weeps at the death of the only two people he has ever loved. Years later, when the vault of Montfaucon, burial place of criminals, is opened, a skeleton of a woman in white is found in the arms of a misshapen man with a crooked spine. The bones disintegrate into dust when touched.
Esmeralda ez-ma-ral'da , a lovely and kindhearted gypsy who possesses an amulet by which she hopes to find her family. She and her goat Djali dance to earn their living. Attracted to Captain Phoebus after he saves her from kidnapping, she agrees to a rendezvous in a house on the Pont St. There the officer is stabbed by Frollo, but Esmeralda is accused of the crime. Under torture, she confesses to everything and is sentenced to be hanged.
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With Quasimodo's help, however, she escapes while confessing to Frollo and takes sanctuary in the church. Gringoire deceives her into leaving when the mob attacks Notre Dame. For a time she hides in the cell of a madwoman, in reality her mother from whom the gypsies had stolen her. Soldiers of Captain Phoebus' company find her there.
Clothed in white, she is hanged at dawn.
The Toilers of the Sea
Pierre Gringoire pyar' grarrgwar' , a penniless and stupid Parisian poet who falls in love with Esmeralda. He writes a play to entertain the Flemish ambassadors at the Palace of Justice. Captured later by thugs and threatened with hanging, he is freed when Esmeralda promises to marry him, but the marriage is never consummated. At Frollo's bidding, Gringoire tempts the girl from her sanctuary and she is captured. Captain Phoebus de Chateaupers fa-bus' ds sha-to-pers' , loved by Esmeralda. He reveals to Frollo his rendezvous with her and is stabbed by the jealous priest.
When Esmeralda is accused of the crime, Phoebus allows her be tried for his attempted murder because he is fearful for his reputation if he appears. Soon he forgets the gypsy and marries his cousin, Fleur-de-Lys. Claude Frollo klod fro-yo' , the archdeacon of Notre Dame, once an upright priest but now a student of alchemy and necromancy as well as a pursuer of women. Determined to possess Esmeralda, he sends Quasimodo in disguise to seize her. Her rescue by Captain Phoebus makes him try to kill the officer.
When Esmeralda is accused of the crime, he offers to save her if she will give herself to him. Failing to possess her, he shakes with evil laughter as he looks down from Notre Dame at her hanging in the Place de Greve. Here he is found by Quasimodo and hurled to his death on the pavement below.
The Dauphin Charles do fan' sharl , of France, whose marriage to Margaret of Flanders occasions the celebration at the beginning of the novel. Charles, Cardinal de Bourbon sharl', kar-de-nal' da boorbon' , who provides the dramatic entertainment for the visiting Flemish guests. Tristan tres-tan' , who directs Captain Phoebus' soldiers in search of Esmeralda. Jacques Charmolue zhak shar-mo-lii' , the king's attorney in the Ecclesiastical Court that tries Esmeralda for witchcraft. Philippe Lheulier fe-lep' lfl-lya' , the king's Advocate Extraordinary, who accuses her. Gudule gu-dul' , an ex-prostitute whose daughter Agnes had been stolen by gypsies.
She has gone mad and for fifteen years has lived in a cell. She fondles constantly a shoe that her baby had worn. When Esmer-alda takes refuge there, she produces its companion, and mother and daughter are briefly reunited. The Story Louis XI, king of France, was to marry his oldest son to Margaret of Flanders, and in early January, , the king was expecting Flemish ambassadors to his court.
The great day arrived, coinciding both with Epiphany and the secular celebration of the Festival of Fools. All day long, raucous Parisians had assembled at the great Palace of Justice to see a morality play and to choose a Prince of Fools. The throng was supposed to await the arrival of the Flemish guests, but when the emissaries were late Gringoire, a penniless and oafish poet, ordered the play to begin.
In the middle of the prologue, however, the play came to a standstill as the royal procession passed into the huge palace. After the procession passed, the play was forgotten, and the crowd shouted for the Prince of Fools to be chosen. The Prince of Fools had to be a man of remarkable physical ugliness.
One by one the candidates, eager for this one glory of their disreputable lives, showed their faces in front of a glass window, but the crowd shouted and jeered until a face of such extraordinary hideousness appeared that the people acclaimed this candidate at once as the Prince of Fools. It was Quasimodo, the hunchback bellringer of Notre Dame.
HUGO’S TOILERS OF THE SEA
Nowhere on earth was there a more grotesque creature. One of his eyes was buried under an enormous wen. His teeth hung over his protruding lower lip like tusks. His eyebrows were red bristles, and his gigantic nose curved over his upper lip like a snout.
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