Premiered in: The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1996)
Voiced By: Demi Moore
Sad as it is to say, it is perfectly understandable why Esmerald didn’t make the final cut for the Disney Princesses though she, more than any other, last for far longer in the running. Though it does sound rather vain, one has to admit that she is, quite easily, one of if not the most beautiful of the princesses though this can be argued that she is simply drawn that way purposefully. It is also one of the reasons why I feel that she isn’t included amongst the Disney Princesses given that the entirety of the film in which she premiered focused on how her beauty inspired such savage lust in Judge Frollo that the man was willing to let all of Paris burn just to find her. That and… by all technicality, Esmeralda is a gypsy and has no true place to call her own. She and her people are wanderers and though they have currently taken residence in Paris, I doubt that any one of them would call it home.
Esmeralda’s companion in the film is a goat by name of Djali whose gender is questionable insomuch that though Djali is stated as being male in the film, Djali is female in the novels. There is no question that Djali is quite intelligent, able to think and plan alongside Esmeralda and follow by the example to a startling degree but then, most animals seem capable of this throughout Disney history. There is also of course, the gargoyle Hugo’s romantic pursuits for the goat which are eventually returned in kind by the film’s sequel but never mind any of that! Let’s move on to Esmeralda’s love interest shall we?
Captain Phoebus of the King’s Guard is… something of a cutout I feel. In the film, he is the exact opposite of his character in the book and is every bit the knight that he is but it seems to me that he and Esmeralda fall in love with each other based solely on each other’s appearance more than who they are on the inside. Truth be told, I had honestly hoped for Quasimodo to end up with Esmeralda and held onto that feeling up until the film’s sequel where… No. I soapboxed already once before with Eilonwy so lets move on shall we?
As I said, Esmeralda is a gypsy and thus does not have a place to truly call her own and so she is not, in all technicality, a royal of any sort even amongst her own people. If anything, she is a deeply loved and highly respected member whom the gypsies would protect like royalty even if meant becoming the very monsters they were trying to protect her from. The gypsies did plan on hanging Quasimodo and Phoebus upon their discovering their hideaway, the Court of Miracles.
Esmeralda would make for a beautiful princess, both for her actual beauty and that of her heart that saw through to the heart of Quasimodo, but she wouldn’t really make for a good role model for young girls considering… Well, to be fair, she didn’t necessarily do anything bad with what she did in the film but I doubt any parent would want their daughter to entertain the notion of dancing in the street to hopefully earn a coin or two from passerby…