"Almost merely" portrayed: depictions of deafness and disability in adaptations of Hugo's Notre-Dame de Paris

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Espinoza Repp, Sarah J.
Huff, Joyce L.
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The omission, erasure, and domestication of disabled and anomalous bodies sometimes occurs within contemporary adaptations of classic literary works that feature disability. Such is the case with many adaptations of Victor Hugo’s novel Notre-Dame de Paris. This research focuses on the character of Quasimodo as represented in the original Notre-Dame de Paris as well as two modern adaptations of the classic story, which function as case studies of this kind of erasure. The first adaptation is the Disney animated film, The Hunchback of Notre-Dame, in which Quasimodo’s deafness was intentionally erased and his anomalous body domesticated. The second adaptation is the 5th Avenue Theater’s 2018 musical production of the same name, which included Quasimodo’s deafness, disabilities, and anomalous body and approached it with the novel’s work in mind. Hugo’s novel illustrates the ways that the normative society actively works to hinder the crucial development of community and communication for those deemed “other”–especially the deaf.