CHAPTER 3. IMMANIS PECORIS CUSTOS, IMMANIOR IPSE.
If now we were to try to penetrate to the soul of Quasimodo
through that thick, hard rind; if we could sound the depths
of that badly constructed organism; if it were granted to us
to look with a torch behind those non-transparent organs
to explore the shadowy interior of that opaque creature, to
elucidate his obscure corners, his absurd no-thoroughfares, and
suddenly to cast a vivid light upon the soul enchained at the
extremity of that cave, we should, no doubt, find the unhappy
Psyche in some poor, cramped, and ricketty attitude, like
those prisoners beneath the Leads of Venice, who grew old
bent double in a stone box which was both too low and too
short for them.
It is certain that the mind becomes atrophied in a defective
body. Quasimodo was barely conscious of a soul cast in his
own image, moving blindly within him. The impressions of
objects underwent a considerable refraction before reaching
his mind. His brain was a peculiar medium; the ideas which
passed through it issued forth completely distorted. The
reflection which resulted from this refraction was, necessarily,
divergent and perverted.
Hence a thousand optical illusions, a thousand aberrations
of judgment, a thousand deviations, in which his thought
strayed, now mad, now idiotic.
The first effect of this fatal organization was to trouble the
glance which he cast upon things. He received hardly any
immediate perception of them. The external world seemed
much farther away to him than it does to us.
The second effect of his misfortune was to render him malicious.
He was malicious, in fact, because he was savage; he was
savage because he was ugly. There was logic in his nature, as
there is in ours.
His strength, so extraordinarily developed, was a cause of
still greater malevolence: "Malus puer robustus," says
This justice must, however be rendered to him. Malevolence
was not, perhaps, innate in him. From his very first
steps among men, he had felt himself, later on he had seen
himself, spewed out, blasted, rejected. Human words were,
for him, always a raillery or a malediction. As he grew up,
he had found nothing but hatred around him. He had caught
the general malevolence. He had picked up the weapon with
which he had been wounded.