Esmeralda is the deuteragonist of Disney's 1996 animated feature film the Hunchback of Notre Dame and a secondary character of its 2002 sequel. She was voiced by Demi Moore in the films, Heidi Mollenhauer as her singing voice in the first film, and by Renee Faia in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, and is currently voiced by Grey DeLisle.
She is a fearless and streetwise gypsy with a heart of gold (and is very capable of defending herself). She's also able to look beyond physical appearances and is one of the first—and only—people in both films to befriend the deformed yet lovable hunchback Quasimodo. Esmeralda is a wonderful heroine whose greatest wish is to see outcasts like Quasimodo and her fellow gypsies be accepted into society and be treated as people, not as property. She also seems to be quite witty, as when Phoebus first confronts her in the church, she verbally challenges him. She is quite passionate and demands justice, and she displays this at the Festival of Fools, when she stands up for Quasimodo while the crowd jeers at him.
Though she seems to be a sultry and free-spirited person, the song God Help the Outcasts shows that Esmeralda is also a kind of religious as she turns to God asking for a better life for her people. However, Esmeralda is not a fanatic as Frollo is - on the one she does not get into a personal crisis by her falling in love with Phoebus, on the other she uses the phrase "I don't know if You can hear me or if You're even there" in her song speaking to God, showing she's somewhat convinced of his existence.
She is very beautiful and attracts the attention of three men during the course of The Hunchback of Notre Dame. Quasimodo is the first to fall for her as soon as he meets her during the Festival of Fools. Claude Frollo takes a (rather unhealthy) liking to the gypsy as well, and sinks into dreams of obsession about her. He then gives her the chance to live with him as his wife, or to die at the stake, when she is accused of witchcraft. Phoebus also loves her, and he is eventually the one who winds up earning her love in return.
Esmeralda goes barefoot in the first film (but wears black shoes in the sequel), and she has dark brown skin, raven-black hair, and striking emerald green eyes (in fact, a possible reason is that "Esmeralda" is the Spanish and Portuguese word for "emerald"). She is designed to be very attractive, as Phoebus and Frollo are both immediately attracted to her. Her hair is tied back with a pink ribbon. Esmeralda wears a white top with a teal and gold bodice, along with a purple sarong and white petticoat (in which she was left wearing during her supposed execution). She is often barefoot, and wears a golden hoop earring on her left ear, a golden bangle on her left wrist, and matching bracelet and anklet on both her right hand and right ankle.
At first, Phoebus and Esmeralda weren't very good friends. She was initially aggressive towards him, up to the point of attacking him with a candlestick. After learning that he was honorable about the sanctity of the church, they began to develop a romantic relationship.
Ever since they first met, Esmeralda and Quasimodo have had a great friendship. She helps Quasimodo when he is being publically humiliated at the Festival of Fools, which leads to Quasimodo developing deep feelings of love for her. Quasimodo, in turn, saves Esmeralda from being burned at the stake, and weeps over her when he believes she is dead. It is shown that in the second film, whenever Quasimodo had problems, he usually turned to Esmeralda for advice.
Frollo is Esmeralda's archnemesis and was a serious threat to her life. Despite his power and authority, she was not afraid of him. Not only was she even brave enough to publicly humiliate and insult him at the Festival of Fools (also intriguing him a bit as well), she even had the courage to spit in his face before her attempted execution. Of note, when Esmeralda and Frollo first meet, she playfully brings his face close to hers and kisses the tip of his nose before pulling his hat down, hinting that they might have been friends at best, if not for Frollo's wicked personality and prejudice against her and her people. This, however, leads to Frollo becoming unhealthily obsessed with her, becoming the first link in the chain that leads to Frollo's demise.
Esmeralda and her son, Zephyr, love each other very much.
Although both characters interact with each other just a few times, the Keyblade wielder is shown to be really good friends with the gypsy girl, as he really cares about her. This is shown many times in the game. For example, when he thanks her for helping him in saving Quasimodo from the Monsters, when Phoebus tells him and Quasimodo that Frollo is just about to exterminate her and the other gypsies by attacking their hideout and when he prepares to fight Frollo in order to free the girl from being burned at the stake. As he fails to perform this latter task, Sora is clearly worried when he returns to the square and sees Esmeralda almost burned, until Quasimodo saves her. Frollo, enraged, goes into Notre Dame to kill them both. Sora, again, tries to stop him, only to be attacked by Wargoyle. After the fight, he is very happy to see Esmeralda, Quasimodo and Phoebus safe.
Esmeralda and Riku's friendship can be first noticed when he stands up for her, as she was being chased by Frollo and Phoebus. Riku tells the captain he didn't see any gypsy (girl) around. Not knowing what gypsies are, Esmeralda tells him their (and hers) story and about Frollo's darkness, which picks Riku's curiosity. When the boy asked her to tell him more about the villain's evil nature, she suggests him to take a look in the church, as it is said to be a place for answers. Later, when Paris is being burned by Frollo and after Quasimodo saves Esmeralda from her execution, the young Keyblade wielder asks him if she's going to be all right. When she barely assures him she will, Riku smiles. After Frollo's death, Esmeralda gives Riku some advices upon how to deal with something you don't know exactly what it is or how it works (Riku's darkness).
Disney PrincessWhen the Disney Princess franchise was formed, Esmeralda was part of it, along with Snow White, Cinderella, Aurora, Ariel, Belle, Jasmine, Pocahontas and Mulan.   She had remained in the franchise until 2004, appearing in many products, and also in some events. However, since 2005, she has not been seen along with the other princesses in any product, or event related to the franchise. Some issues may have led Disney to make that decision:
- Her appearance is similar to Jasmine, which made girls confuse the two characters.
- Her sultry pose in the film may have influenced the decision.
- The fact of not having connections with royalty.
- Her clothes deemed inappropriate for a princess.
- The unpopularity of her film.
- The fact of living on the streets, and not in a respectable family, like all the other princesses.
- Not generating enough profits.
However, the possible reasons that led her to join the franchise was the fact of having an animal friend, singing in the film, as well as all the Disney Princesses (with the exception of Merida). Currently, nothing has been said if she will ever return to the princess franchise.
She is first seen dancing in the streets for coins. Some guards come along and harass her, but with the help of Djali and Phoebus, Esmeralda escapes. She is then seen dancing at the festival of fools and catches the attention of everyone, even Frollo. When the time comes to crown the king of fools, she pulls Quasimodo onto the stage, thinking his face to be a mask. When the crowd is torturing Quasimodo, she solely comes to his aid and accuses Frollo of cruelty for not having it stopped sooner and for not providing justice to "the least of these in need of [his] help". Frollo orders her arrest for her defiance, but she uses magic to disappear by blowing her nose, after which Frollo accuses her of witchcraft. Esmeralda expertly dodges and outwits the soldiers sent after her and ultimately disappears from view after sufficiently humiliating Frollo and the sentries. Esmeralda is next seen following Quasimodo into the cathedral disguised together with Djali as an old man, but is followed by Phoebus. She is initially aggressive towards him, up to the point of attacking him with a candlestick, but engages in conversation when he puts away his sword and introduces himself.
When Frollo arrives and orders Phoebus to arrest her, Phoebus refuses saying that Esmeralda has claimed sanctuary. Frollo and the soldiers are ordered out of the church by the Archdeacon. Frollo stays behind long enough to warn her that she can only stay inside for so long and hints at a physical attraction to the gypsy girl, eliciting repulsion from her. Frollo leaves and stations guards at every door, forcing Esmeralda to rethink her exit strategy. The Archdeacon counsels her against antagonizing Frollo further and at his suggestion, she offers a heartfelt prayer to God to help her and her people. Enchanted by her song, Quasimido watches from afar and stumbles on some candles, alerting her of his presence. He escapes away to the belltower and she chases him, attempting to apologize to him for bringing him onto the stage. She then stumbles upon Quasimido's workshop and is instantly impressed by his talent. He begins to understand that she means him no harm and decides to show her around the bell tower. Esmeralda expresses her surprise that such a cruel man like Frollo raised such a wonderful boy.
Quasimodo says that Frollo took him in even though he is a monster. Esmeralda cites Frollo's lie that gypsies are evil and says Frollo may be wrong about them both. Quasimodo offers to let her live with him in the bell tower where she can have sanctuary but she expresses her desire to escape the church as "gypsies don't do well in stone walls". Quasimodo carries her and Djali down the tower to the streets where she can escape. Esmeralda asks him to come with her, but he knows he would not be welcome and his place remains in the tower. Esmeralda promises they will meet again and gives him a map of the town which will lead him to the Court of Miracles where all the gypsies are hiding. Shortly afterwards, Frollo initiates a manhunt for her and throws the town into chaos.
She observes from a distance and sees him burn down an innocent family's house. Phoebus saves them in time, and is arrested. She causes something that allows Phoebus to escape by horseback but Frollo has his guards shoot Phoebus with a single arrow and Phoebus' wound nearly kills him. Esmeralds's quick thinking and medical attention saves Phoebus' life; and brings him to Quasimodo whom she knows will help her. She tends to his wounds and passionately kisses Phoebus, unwittingly breaking Quasimodo's heart as he was convinced she loved him. She escapes the bell tower when she hears Frollo approaching and leaves Phoebus in Quasimodo's care. Frollo bluffs that he knows where the Court of Miracles is and that he will attack it in the morning with one thousand men. Quasimodo and Phoebus quickly reach the Court of Miracles using the map Esmerelda gave them to try and warn them, only for Frollo to suddenly appear, having used Quasimodo to lead him there. Esmerelda is captured and sentenced to burn at the stake for the crime of witchcraft. As Frollo holds the torch to set the pyre ablaze, he offers her one last chance to be with him or be burned. She spits in his face in utter disgust and he attempts to burn her alive.
She is saved in time by Quasimodo but ends up nearly suffocated and falls unconscious. Quasimodo cries over her seemingly dead body before fighting off Frollo. Esmerelda manages to come to and is rescued by Quasimodo from Frollo's attacks. They hide holding onto the balcony of the tall bell-tower but Frollo sees them and attacks them with his sword. Eventually Esmeralda is knocked away and Frollo tries to get Quasimodo off his feet but is pulled down with Quasimodo. Esmeralda holds Quasi for dear life as Frollo climbs up on a gargoyle and prepares to hit them with his sword screaming "He shall smite the wicked and plunge them into a fiery pit!" However the gargoyle suddenly breaks from under Frollo causing Frollo to plummit to his death. Esmeralda accidentally releases her grip on Quasimodo and Phoebus saves him.
Phoebus, aware of Quasimodo's feelings for Esmerelda, stands aside so Quasimodo can be with her. However, Quasimodo understands their feelings for each other and interlocks their hands, having accepted their love and the two kiss. As Phoebus and Esmeralda emerge safely from the church to cheers to triumph from the crowd, Esmeralda extends her hand to Quasimodo to join them outside. As Quasimodo joins her, he is finally accepted into the town population.
Esmeralda becomes Phoebus' wife and has a son named Zephyr. She also wears black shoes instead of being barefoot. Her role in the film is much smaller than her part in the original, with the story now focusing on Quasimodo finding a love interest in Madellaine.
Esmeralda makes several appearances along with Quasimodo, the Gargoyles, and Phoebus. In Ask Von Drake, she is seen dancing on a table.
Esmeralda appears in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance in her homeworld La Cité des Cloches, with a role similar to that of the film.
When Riku arrives in the city, Esmeralda runs past him after she escapes from Frollo and Phoebus through a magic trick. Phoebus approaches Riku and questions if he saw a gypsy had passed him, to which he denies. Once Phoebus was gone, a grateful Esmeralda introduces herself to Riku and expresses her gratitude to him. Later, she helps Quasimodo escape into Notre Dame, after things went wrong during the Festival of Fools. However, Claude Frollo, the Minister of Justice of Paris and Quasimodo's guardian who harbors a deep hatred for gypsies, prevents her from leaving by posting guards at the entrances as vengeance for saving the hunchback. Inside, Quasimodo offers her a place at the sanctuary. However, Esmeralda declined as she didn't want to be confined between four walls and gave Quasimodo a necklace that would guide him to the Court of Miracles, before leaving to return to the streets. Later, Quasimodo, Phoebus and Sora meet her at the Court of Miracles, who come and warn her that Frollo is coming. Before they have time to escape, he comes with an army of Nightmares and seizes Esmeralda, who is later condemned to be burnt at a stake. Quasimodo manages to rescue her and following the battle that ultimately led to Frollo's death, Quasimodo blesses her relationship with Phoebus.
Esmeralda is a young dancer who is a newcomer to the Court of Miracles. She get very frustrated with inequality. She a has a difficulty keeping her thoughts to herself which is why she had to move to Paris and why she gets in trouble with Frollo. She is not a sassy as she in the movie but she does come off sweeter and naive, which is more like the book.
Esmeralda is confirmed to appear on the eponymous series of ABC.
Songs sung by Esmeralda
Difference from Original Character
Victor Hugo's Esmeralda greatly differs from Disney's version. In the novel, Esmeralda was the protagonist, not Quasimodo, and she was only about sixteen years old when the events of the story take place. She is described as very beautiful, as Quasimodo, Frollo, and Gringoire are all attracted to her. Esmeralda is madly in love with the handsome Captain Phoebus, who pretends to love her and even flirts with her, but he ultimately rejects her for Fleur-de-Lys, a wealthy noblewoman. While Quasimodo does save her life at one point, during the actual climax of the novel, she is killed by Frollo when she rejects his lustful attentions. She is described as being an innocent, timid, naive, sweet, beautiful, free-spirited gypsy girl, not the confident, sultry, outspoken Esmeralda we see in the film. However, they both are very kind and thoughtful, enjoy dancing, and wish for gypsies to be accepted as equals rather than be treated as pieces of human property.
- In the second movie Esmeralda's hairstyle is drawn like Aurora's from Sleeping Beauty (but only in some scenes).
- Esmeralda is the only Disney heroine to dance in a seductive manner. Her dance at the Feast of Fools is actually reminiscent of poledancing, with the "pole" being a spear she grabbed from a guard and drove into the stage.
- Esmeralda is the first Disney heroine to have green eyes, with Rapunzel being the second. In fact, Esmeralda has emerald green eyes, the reason presumably being because "esmeralda" is the Spanish and Portuguese word for "emerald".
- During the Middle Ages, green eyes were often considered to be a sign of either magic, evil, and/or witchcraft (which explains why many of Disney's earlier villains had green eyes, and therefore such was originally restricted to villains); which explains why she was designed to look malicious-looking despite being the heroine and why Frollo (who is outright evil) actually sees her as being evil even though she really isn't.
- She is also the first non-Caucasian Disney female to sport an unusual eye color, with the second being Kida. (Esmeralda has green eyes, while Kida's are blue).
- Coincidentally enough, Esmeralda is also the first Disney female to wear anklets, with the second also being Kida (Esmeralda wears one anklet, while Kida wears two).
- In the novel, Esmeralda had black eyes, not green, and was named after the emerald amulet around her neck.
- Esmeralda is the first Disney heroine to be seen inside a holy building, with Tiana being the second.
- Esmeralda is the third Disney heroine to be bare-footed throughout most of her movie, the first being Aurora, the second being Pocahontas, and the fourth being Rapunzel.
- In the original story, Frollo successfully killed Esmeralda by hanging.
- For some reason, Esmeralda's eyes are blue instead of green in The Hunchback of Notre Dame 2.
- Esmeralda is the only Disney heroine whose religion is shown.
- Esmeralda is the second Disney heroine to be seen praying, Snow White being the first.
- Esmeralda is the third Disney Heroine to live in France, Belle being the second, Cinderella being the first.
- Esmeralda is the only Disney Heroine who deals with perversion as a source of major conflict.
- Esmeralda is the second Disney Heroine who deals with racism as a source of major conflict, Pocahontas being the first.
- Esmeralda is the fourth Disney Heroine to save the life of her love interest; she saves Phoebus and Quasimodo (only the former of which was her love interest) from being hanged. Ariel being the first (saving Eric from drowning), Belle being the second, Pocahontas being the third, and Megara being the fifth. If one counts her saving Phoebus the first time, she is the second heroine to save her love interest from drowning, the first being Ariel.
- Esmeralda is the first Disney female to ever wear a white dress other than a wedding dress. In Western culture, white is the color of purity and innocence.
- That's actually an underdress, which means that Esmeralda's white dress is her underwear (during the 15th century, prisoners were denied clothing, but were permitted to keep their undergarments to protect their modesty).
- She is also the first Disney female to be seen wearing only her undergarments at one point, followed by Mulan and Merida.
- The sequels and spinoffs following the first film's events for some reason all show Esmeralda wearing her Gypsy outfit again despite the fact the by the end of the first film, it's implied that all but one (a white dress) of Esmeralda's dresses were presumably destroyed by Frollo so that he can have her executed properly, with her almost burned alive in the one dress he intentionally did not destroy. However, the game Kingdom Hearts 3D properly showed her in her white dress.
- Originally, following the song "Court of Miracles", after she thwarts Clopin's attempted execution of Quasimodo and Phoebus by hanging, there was actually going to be a scene showing Esmeralda's wedding to Phoebus only for said wedding to be interrupted by the sudden appearance of Frollo and his minions.
- Esmeralda is one of the few Disney heroines to have a child, by the events of her film's sequel. Some prime examples would be Ariel who had Melody, and Wendy who had Jane. Though most heroines appear to have daughters, Esmeralda is different as she has a son.
- Esmeralda has the thickest eyebrows of any Disney female, and quite possibly the thickest hair.
- Esmeralda is also the tallest Disney female, even taller than Aurora, the tallest princess.
- Despite Esmeralda occasionally appearing on some Disney Princess-related merchandise, Esmeralda is not an official Disney Princess, implying that she is actually a temporary member. One possible reason for the fact that she was immediately removed from the lineup shortly after she was introduced may be due to the fact that Disney actually thought that girls would mistake her for Jasmine.
- Esmeralda's backstory appears to be very inconsistent. In the book "Esmeralda's Lucky Charm", it's stated that Esmeralda and Djali moved to Paris when she was an adult and met Clopin as an adult, but in "Once Upon a Princess: Volume One", it's implied that Esmeralda was an orphan, and that she was born in Paris to Gypsy circus performers only to have her parents murdered by soldiers (presumably working for Frollo) and subsequently adopted by Clopin, and Djali was given to her as a birthday present.
- Esmeralda shares the same Japanese voice actor with PJ.
- In the movie, Esmeralda is the only singing character to be voiced by two voice actors or actresses, with her speaking voice by Demi Moore and singing by Heidi Mollenhauer.
- Until Tiana's debut in 2009, Esmeralda had the darkest skin tone of any Disney female.
- In real life, the word "Gypsy" supposedly meant that the Roma (that race's real name) is actually from Egypt, and nowadays considered by them as being an insult, and that the Romani actually originated from either India or eastern Europe (which may explain the presence of a bhindi on Esmeralda's forehead at the Feast of Fools), and why her goat is given the name Djali.
- Esmeralda wore a skimpy red dress for her dance at the Feast of Fools, but in reality the color red is considered bad luck to Gypsies. This might have been intended as Esmeralda had a conflict with Frollo during the film. Also, said red dress had a purple sash around the waist and purple sleeves, referencing the Whore of Babylon.
- Esmeralda is the second Disney Heroine associated with the Disney Princess franchise to be in an interracial relationship, after Pocahontas and before Kida and Tiana.
- Esmeralda's eyes for some reason do not reflect light. When they do, they're a much different shade of green than usual.
- Esmeralda's decision to marry Phoebus at the end of her film was likely the result of the way both Quasimodo and Frollo treated her throughout the movie, according to the Madonna-Whore complex: Frollo constantly viewed Esmeralda as an evil seductress, causing him to want her as his own and threatens to kill her if she refuses, while Quasimodo instead views her as a pure, angelic being, seeing her as being only kind and caring. However, both portrayals are considered insulting to women, and Phoebus, seeing her and being feisty buy good-natured, was the only male character that saw Esmeralda like a normal woman, and therefore becoming her husband.
- Unlike most Disney heroines, Esmeralda does not get rescued by her own love interest. However, she was rescued by Quasimodo when she was almost killed by Frollo in the climax of The Hunchback of Notre Dame.