It's Twelfth Night in the year 1482, and the people of Paris gather in the shadow of Notre Dame for the performance of a mystery play.
The highlight of the celebrations to commemorate the annual Feast of Fools has been the election of Quasimodo the bell ringer as the fools' pope. But now another performer is attracting attention.
The roots of the relationship between Quasimodo and Archdeacon Frollo are revealed, as well as the Archdeacon's deep-seated fear of gypsies.
As a consequence of his attempted abduction of Esmeralda, Quasimodo is summoned to appear in court. But as sentence is passed, the bell-ringer receives solace from an unexpected source.
The poet Pierre Gringoire has been saved from an unsavoury death by the gypsy Esmeralda. She, in turn, has been wrested from the clutches of Quasimodo by Phoebus, only for her to vanish into the night.
Wrongly charged with the murder of her saviour Captain Phoebus, Esmeralda has no one to turn to, and the authorities are anxious to elicit a confession. So, too, is the priest Claude Frollo.
Sentenced to hang by the Parisian court and abandoned by Captain Phoebus, Esmeralda refuses to submit to the Archdeacon of Notre Dame, Claude Frollo. However, Quasimodo rescues her and carries her to the cathedral, proclaiming that he has given her the sanctuary of the church.
Enraged by Esmeralda's continued rejection of him, Archdeacon Frollo claims she will be removed from the sanctuary of Notre-Dame. An army of vagrants sets out to rescue her and storm the cathedral where, during the attack, Quasimodo kills the priest's brother.