Friday, July 13, 2012

Cyrano de Bergerac

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Cyrano de Bergerac, known for his wit, great courage, and large nose, lived in Paris, France during the 17th century. This was a time filled with eloquence, war, and poets. Cyrano spoke with much eloquence, he was the Achilles of the Gascons, and brought tears to the eyes of those who read his poems of love. He had but one flaw, his nose. His nose became the bane of his existence.

Cyrano was also known for his witty retorts. As a result of his remarks, he was challenged to many duels. He was able to win the heart of his cousin, Magdeleine Robin, with his sweet words and beautiful poems. Cyrano never backed down from a challenge and lived his life the way he wanted to. “He lives without compromise, free in both his thoughts and his acts.” (Act V, 5). Cyrano was intrigued by De Guiche’s offer of having Cardinal Richelieu as his patron. Outraged when informed that Cardinal Richelieu would change a few lines in one of his plays, he quickly responded by telling De Guiche, the man asking Cyrano to take Richelieu as his patron, “my blood curdles at the thought of having a single comma changed.” (Act II, 488)

When the Gascons where needed to help save some French at the town of Arras, Cyrano was delighted. He loved battle and was great with a sword. When they became

surrounded by the Spanish, Cyrano was still able to sneak by the Spanish and deliver letters to the love of his life. While all of the cadets in Carbon De Castel-Jaloux’s regiment were complaining of starvation, he kept going, fighting on, and writing his letters. When the time came to fight the enemy that had them outnumbered, Cyrano was again ready. He became a leader while on the battlefield. His tactical experience and knowledge helped him to finish the war with his life and mind intact.

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Cyrano’s only flaw was his appearance. His nose was abnormally large. People would look at it funny and he would become enraged and start a duel. One example occurs when Cyrano goes to the theater. He earlier had instructed one of the actors not to perform. When the actor does, and goes against Cyrano’s instructions, Cyrano interrupts the play and refunds everyone’s money with his own. One of the many viewers, a viscount named Valvert, decides that Cyrano had no right to do what he did so he in turn, made jokes about Cyrano’s nose. Cyrano listens quietly, waits for him to finish, and then tells Valvert how his insult was weak. He proceeds by giving a few examples of what he believes are good insults about his nose. After humiliating Valvert with words, he declares that he will duel Valvert and strike him after the last line of his poem that he will create during the heat of battle. Once again Cyrano displays his masterful skills as a poet.

Throughout the entire play Cyrano has hid his affection for Roxane for one reason, his nose. He was afraid that she would reject him and he would be heartbroken for life. Cyrano chose continue to live in poverty without love and without happiness, but only with pain and suffering. Even after the death of Roxane’s new husband and the knowledge that she was in love with his soul and even the ugliest face would attract her.

As the play came to an end, so did the life of Cyrano. After the war ended Cyrano started to live in poverty. He would visit his love, who did not know that he loved her, every week. He would give her the week’s news, and keep her company for the afternoon. Throughout his life, Cyrano knew how he wanted to die. “To be struck down by the only noble weapon, the sword, wielded by an adversary, worthy of me.” (Act V, 54) He later goes on to say, “life is a jester” because he could not even die the way he wanted to. He was struck with a falling log on his way to meet with Roxane. He shows his pride when he gets up and goes to talk with her right after this happens, not letting anything hinder him. In his last minutes of life, he fights all of his old enemies. His dying words were, “I still have my panache” (Act V, 57). This simply means he lived his life the way he wanted to, without compromise.

Rostand, Edward. Cyrano de Bergerac. Trans. Lowell

Bair. World Literature. Signature ed. New York

Glencoe, 11. 464-57.

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