Though little information is known about her, Quasimodo's mother is shown to be a very loving mother who tried to save her son from the cruelty of the French government of the time, and loves him in spite of his deformity. She seems to be knowledgeable of Catholic laws, seeking sanctuary at Notre Dame when she was being chased by Frollo, though she was pushed off the stairs when Frollo was taking Quasimodo from her hands.
Role in the film
At the beginning of the film, Quasimodo's parents (Romani) tried to enter the city of Paris with fellow Romani, but they are discovered by Judge Claude Frollo and his soldiers. She manages to escape, but her husband is captured by the soldiers. Frollo, who thought she was carrying stolen goods, chases her through the city. She comes to the cathedral of Notre Dame and pounds on the door to try and claim sanctuary, but no one answers. Frollo catches up with her and takes what she is carrying, knocking her down with his steel boot onto the stone steps of Notre Dame, killing her with a single blow, splitting the back of her head open and breaking her neck. Frollo then realizes what she was carrying was really a deformed baby and tries to kill him, thinking it to be a demon. Thankfully, the Archdeacon who finally answered the pound on the door arrives just in time and makes Frollo adopt the baby to repent for killing an innocent woman. The Archdeacon then takes her body and gives her a proper burial.
20 years later, Quasimodo has grown up believing his mother abandoned him for his deformity, as told to him by Frollo. During the climax of the film, Frollo reveals to Quasimodo that his mother had actually died trying to save him, a fact reflected by his efforts to save Esmeralda. Even though this is revealed to him, Quasimodo refuses to drop Frollo to his death when given the opportunity (not having the heart to stoop to Frollo's level). Nevertheless, Frollo ultimately dies due to his arrogance clouding his thinking, which, in a way, avenges Quasimodo’s mother. From that moment on, Quasimodo starts to have great respect for his mother who died to protect him.
Differences from the original character
Quasimodo's mother in the Disney adaptation of the film is the complete opposite of her original novel incarnation. In the original novel, she cared less for Quasimodo, going so far as to actually abandon him on the steps of Notre Dame instead of Frollo merely lying. Frollo himself then willingly adopts the boy, which is an ironic slight change in both the roles of Quasimodo's mother and Frollo.
Additionally, the woman who actually abandoned Quasimodo was not his true mother, but rather Esmeralda’s birth mother, who’s true child (Esmeralda/Agnes) was switched with a baby Quasimodo at birth. Quasimodo was born to the Romani, but was switched with a baby Agnes/Esmeralda for his deformity, which is similar to how his mother in the Disney version was a Romani herself.
- Her manner of death is rather unusual compared to other deceased and innocent characters, as she was clearly seen being murdered by Frollo onscreen. Most of the time, if innocent characters are killed, their death is usually offscreen and are later never seen again, shown to be dead without a scratch, or are close to dying. Some examples of these include Mufasa, Ray, and Bambi's mother.
- Quasimodo’s mother seems to have been the only one who cared for Quasimodo when he was a baby, as her husband did not seem to view their child as a human when he ordered her to shut “it” (Quasimodo) up, and additionally, many others were not particularly accepting of Quasimodo, a prime example being when Frollo immediately tried to kill Quasimodo for his deformities. Since she was the only one seen trying to protect her son (excluding the Archdeacon, who barely knew them both and only interfered with Frollo’s attempted murder), this is very possible.