Character Review: The Troubles Of Pierre Gringoire–The Hunchback Of Notre Dame

Greetings, fellow bookworms!

Sorry for yet another late post. *ahem* I wanted to give you all a break from the book reviews and talk about my absolute favorite fictional character of all time: Pierre Gringoire. I say fictional, though he was loosely based off of an actual French poet, which is kind of cool. (Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot of information that I could find about the guy)

So settle down and get ready for a bunch of hilarious quotes from this strange little character.

If you’re a fan of Victor Hugo, you’ve obviously heard of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. (You’ve probably heard of it even if you’re not a fan of Victor Hugo) Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame are Hugo’s two most widely recognized books. Earlier this month, I decided that it was about time to give The Hunchback another read through. The first time I read it, I fell in love with Pierre Gringoire and this time was no different.

If you come to my house and look through my drawers, you’ll probably find one of the many scattered sketches I’ve done of Pierre Gringoire. I write random quotes from him on pieces of paper whenever they pop into my head and sometimes I’ll laugh remembering one of his long monologues. I guess you could say I’m obsessed.

Pierre is one of the first characters we are introduced to. We first meet him in the second chapter. Pierre is absolutely hilarious and he’s always thinking that his life is worse than it actually is. Still, he’s surprisingly optimistic. He seems rather forgetful at times and sometimes he can be so absorbed in either the miseries or the joys of his life that he becomes oblivious to the troubles of others.

“And you think of her no longer?”

“Very little. I have so many good things. Good heavens, how pretty that little goat was!”

“Had she not saved your life?”

“‘Tis true, pardieu!”

“Well, what has become of her? What have you done with her?”

“I cannot tell you. I believe that they have hanged her.”

“You believe so?”

“I am not sure. When I saw that they wanted to hang people, I retired from the game.”

Pierre Gringoire & Dom Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame–Victor Hugo

Pierre is a poet and a philosopher. Because of this, he can go into long monologues with no one but himself as the audience. He loves to think of himself as someone great and brilliant and he’s comically self-absorbed.

” . . . At sixteen, I wished to choose a calling. I tried all in succession. I became a soldier; but I was not brave enough. I became a monk; but I was not sufficiently devout; and then I’m a bad hand at drinking. In despair, I became an apprentice of the woodcutters, but I was not strong enough; I had more of an inclination to be come a schoolmaster; ’tis true that I did not know how to read, but that’s no reason. I perceived at the end of a certain time, that I lacked something in every direction; and seeing that I was good for nothing, of my own free will I became a poet and rhymester.”

Pierre Gringoire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame–Victor Hugo

While Pierre can occasionally become over dramatic, and despair about all the hardships he’s gone through, he has a clinging love for life. The poor poet has been put in harm’s way more times than he would like and every time, he determines to do anything possible to survive. Though I will tragically admit that very few others seem to see the value of the life so precious to Pierre.

“Listen, Dom Claude,” replied the poet in utter consternation. “You cling to that idea, and you are wrong. I do not see why I should get myself hanged in some one else’s place.”

“What have you, then, which attaches you so strongly to life?”

“Oh! a thousand reasons!”

“What reasons, if you please?”

“What? The air, the sky, (. . .) my good friends the thieves, (. . .) three great books to make, one of them being against the bishop and his mills; (. . .) And then, from morning till night, I have the happiness of passing all my days with a man of genius, who is myself, which is very agreeable.”

“A head fit for a mule bell!” muttered the archdeacon.

Pierre Gringoire & Dom Claude Frollo from The Hunchback of Notre Dame–by Victor Hugo

Any time Pierre showed up, I couldn’t stop laughing. He is by far one of the most hilarious characters I’ve ever read. He is so well done and I love everything about him. There are a hundred different nuances that continue to add depth to this character we call Pierre Gringore; his hatred for a certain bishop for one. Just listening to him ramble along can have you laughing in no time.

“Accursed Parisians!” he said to himself (for Gringoire, like a true dramatic poet, was subject to monologues) “there they are obstructing my fire! (. . .) That devil of a Bishop of Paris, with his mills! I’d just like to know what use a bishop can make of a mill! (. . .) Move aside! I’d like to know what they are doing there! They are warming themselves, much pleasure may it give them! They are watching a hundred fagots burn; a fine spectacle!”

Pierre Gringoire from The Hunchback of Notre Dame–Victor Hugo

I could go on sharing Pierre’s quotes for pages and pages, but I don’t want to spoil it all. All I can say is that The Hunchback of Notre Dame is definitely worth the read. I’m sure you’ll come to love Pierre as much as I do after you pick up this book! If you have read The Hunchback, I would love to hear what some of your favorite quotes were and what you thought of Pierre in the comments below!

Until next time!


What did you think of Pierre? Have you read The Hunchback of Notre Dame? Would you like to see a book review of The Hunchback of Notre Dame?

6 Replies to “Character Review: The Troubles Of Pierre Gringoire–The Hunchback Of Notre Dame”

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