The magnificent cathedral of Notre Dame towers above 15th century Paris and the sound of the bells is the very soul of the city. Quasimodo, the bell-ringer, is a mysterious and misshapen outcast who has been secluded there since infancy by his repressive guardian, Judge Claude Frollo. He yearns to be out among the people in the square below but Frollo has forbidden him from ever leaving his tower. On the day of the big pageant, the "Feast of Fools," Quasi finds the courage to join the celebration below where he meets the beautiful Gypsy dancer Esmeralda and Phoebus, Frollo's heroic new Captain of the Guard. Phoebus falls in love with Esmeralda and is torn between conscience and duty when he is ordered to hunt her down as a fugitive. Esmeralda's defiance enrages Frollo and he intensifies his efforts to bring her under his control. Meanwhile, Quasi has experienced compassion for the first time in his life and is willing to sacrifice his own safety to save Esmeralda from Frollo's vengeful wrath.