Hunchback Oppression, Isolation and World Movie Review

Excerpt from Movie Review :

In addition to the Jewish population that was decimated by Hitler's Final Solution, the gypsy population was a targeted victim. According to the Jewish Virtual Library (JVL), "it is known that perhaps 250,000 Gypsies were killed, and that proportionately they suffered losses greater than any other group of victims except Jews." (JVL, p. 1)

The Jewish Virtual Library goes on to explain that because of their nomadic lifestyle and their preservation of a distinctive culture, they were often seen as strangers and social other in the countries of Europe where they made their homes. The result was a set of prejudices stemming from fear, suspicious and misunderstanding. These would all help to feed into the victimization of this group during the Holocaust. This shows a startling continuity from the time of Esmerelda and Quasimodo in the medieval era to the time of Hugo's writing and directly up to the time of the film's release. In each era, the plight of the gypsy populations could serve as a reminder of the manner in which fear and suspicion may ultimately lead to hatred and oppression.

Perhaps less startling than the fact that this plight had changed so little over the encapsulated 400 years is the fact that many of the themes still resonate with us today. Maybe even more than the plight of the gypsies and the degree to which these allow for the false allegations against and imprisonment of Esmerelda is the treatment experienced by Quasimodo. Made because of his hideous appearance to be an outcast hated and feared by those around him, Quasimodo remains the story's moral center and even to present day, a symbol to the artifices of human social interaction. The character's misery, loneliness and goodness of intent combine to render a familiar martyr. Such is to say that Quasimodo is an archetype for positive human endurance in the face of horrendous suffering and isolation.

Just as the gypsies would be victimized by the Nazi's during the Second World War, so too would the handicapped. Hitler's racial purity was threatened by the decidedly non-Aryan unsightliness of the disabled. That the film in question would arrive in theatres as Hitler's armies marched over Europe is especially valuable because it would propose both a hero and a heroine that would have been decidedly unacceptable in a Nazi-dominated universe. In this regard, the considerably happier fate of the lead characters in the film, as opposed to the novel, might be taken as a victory for the forces of good and justice during a time when so much evil and hatred seemed to be blanketing the world.

Works Cited:

Dieterle, W. (1939). The Hunchback of Notre Dame. RKO Radio Pictures.

Jewish Virtual Library (JVL). (2013). Gypsies in the Holocaust. The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.

Miller,…

Sources Used in Document:

Works Cited:

Dieterle, W. (1939). The Hunchback of Notre Dame. RKO Radio Pictures.

Jewish Virtual Library (JVL). (2013). Gypsies in the Holocaust. The American-Israeli Cooperative Enterprise.

Miller, F. (2010). The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1939). Turner Classic Movies.

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