In the novel Phoebus seduces Esmeralda while only interested in her charms. He is negotiating his marriage to Fleur-de-Lys, a noble heiress. He suffers an assassination attempt by Claude Frollo but survives. This does not prevent Esmeralda from being accused with Phoebus' murder. Phoebus ironically witnesses her execution, neither defending, nor accusing her. He is one of the few characters to survive the events of the novels. His punishment befits a womanizer, being married and no longer free to seduce girls.
Several adaptations remain fairly faithful to the novel, depicting him as a cold-hearted snake of a lover. Others turn him into a dashing, as befits his looks. Arguably missing an important point of the novel, looks being deceiving.