Esmeralda is the deuteragonist of Disney's 1996 film The Hunchback of Notre Dame and a secondary character of its sequel. She was voiced by Demi Moore in the films, and later by Renee Faia starting in Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance.
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. 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 displays this at the Festival of Fools, when she stands up for Quasimodo while the crowd jeers at him.
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 light 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.
At first, Phoebus and Esmeralda weren't very good friends. Actually, they weren't friends at all, for that matter. 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. 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 if not for Frollo's wicked personality.
Esmeralda and her son, Zephyr, loved each other very much.
AppearancesArchdeacon. 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. At the suggestion of the Archdeacon, 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, but mortally wounded trying to escape. She saves him 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. The battle results with Frollo falling to his death and Esmeralda clinging to Quasimodo to keep him from falling, but he slips out of her hands and is caught by Phoebus. 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 mostly smaller then 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. In Riku 's scenario, Esmeralda is seen escaping from Frollo and Phoebus. Phoebus asks the young Riku if he's seen a gypsy woman but Riku denies the sighting. After the enemies leave, Esmeralda comes out and thanks Riku for the help. She tells him that Frollo's heart is infested with darkness, which gives Riku the desire to learn more about Frollo. Esmeralda advises him to visit Notre Dame to asks the one who knows the most about him. A little after Sora's arrival, the Quasimodo is attacked by Dream Eaters (Nightmares) in the square and Esmeralda helps an injured Quasimodo back into Notre Dame. Frollo orders Phoebus and the guards to corner the chapel in an attempt to capture Esmeralda but Quasimodo secretly helps her escape. Sora, Quasimodo, and an exiled Phoebus, soon learn that Frollo's on his way to the newly discovered Court of Miracles. They rush over to save Esmeralda but she is captured anyway. Back at the square, Quasimodo rescues her and takes her to the top of the bell tower where Frollo meets his end. In the end, Esmeralda and Phoebus begin their relationship.
She also appears in The Sceptre and the Kingdom, a spin-off comic published in Spain, where she helps Sora and Riku escape Frollo when they are accidentally teleported to Paris. Sora briefly thinks Esmeralda is a Princess of Heart. She is flattered by this, but tells him she's not. Sora and Riku continue on their journey, with Laverne pointing the way to their next destination.
Esmeralda appears as a walk-around in the Disney parks, though she is now rare to find. She is often seen at Disneyland Paris in a few amount of shows.
- For more pictures and screenshots of Esmeralda, click here.
- Esmeralda is not part of the official Disney Princess line up. Coincidentally, she appears in books and doll sets promoting the Disney Princess franchise.
- In the second movie Esmeralda's hairstyle is drawn like Aurora's from Sleeping Beauty (but only in some scenes).
- In the original book by Victor Hugo, Esmeralda is successfully killed by Frollo and is the main protagonist in the book.
- Esmeralda is hung in the original novel, not burned at the stake in the film.
- In the original novel Esmeralda does not like Quasimodo right away. He actually grows on her throughout the course of the novel.
- 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.
- She is also the first non-Caucasian Disney female to have an unusual eye color, with the second being Kida (Esmeralda has green eyes, while Kida's are blue).
- 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 though-out most of her movie, the first being Aurora, the second being Pocahontas, and the fourth being Rapunzel.
- Esmeralda is the only Disney heroine whose religion is shown.
- Esmaralda is the only Disney heroine shown to be Catholic.
- Esmeralda is the second Disney heroine to be seen praying, Snow White being the first.
- Esmeralda is the second Disney Heroine to live in France, Belle 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 from being hanged. Ariel being the first (saving Eric from drowning), Belle being the second, Pocahontas being the third, and Meg 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.
| Snow White | Cinderella | Aurora | Ariel | Belle | Jasmine | Pocahontas | Mulan | Tiana | Rapunzel | Merida
Expected Future Princesses: Anna