Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac (see-rah-NOH deh behr-zheh-RAHK), a historical poet, playwright, and soldier who, as a contemporary of the three famous musketeers, creates an image of romance considerably heightened by his lines in the play. Although the possessor of an enormous nose, which its owner declared was a symbol of generosity and independence, Cyrano has a romantic heart and a gifted tongue as well as a spirit of fierce independence. He chooses as his symbol a white plume of unsullied integrity, never lowered for expediency’s sake. Although he appears boastful in the braggart warrior tradition, he actually is shy and diffident, especially when confronting beauty in any form. As the accomplice in a love plot, he never speaks for himself until wounded mortally. His name stands not only for an ugly handicap for which compensation must be made but also for all that is good, true, loyal, and fine in human nature. Such integrity is in the great tradition of Don Quixote, whom Cyrano admires because tilting at the windmills of pomposity and philistinism, although it may throw the challenger down, more often elevates.
Christian de Neuvillette
Christian de Neuvillette (krees-TYAHN deh new-vee-YEHT), Cyrano’s protégé in love, who never learns the language of sentiment. Often mistaken for a...
(The entire section is 594 words.)
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Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac is a man who excels at poetry and swordsmanship in order to overcome his "physical limitation"—a very large nose. In the words of the character Ragueneau, "there never walked/stalked rather, strutted, so extravagant, bizzare,/far-fetched, excessive, hyperbolic, droll,/mad a gentleman-ruffian as this Bergerac."
From the first sight of Cyrano ridiculing the lackluster skills of the actor Montfleury, it is clear that his wit is a weapon as sharp as his sword. When challenged to a duel by the Vicomte de Valvert, he composes a "ballade" (poem) as they fight. He taunts his opponent, ''when the poem ends, I hit.'' It is clear that Cyrano is in complete control, both in the swordfight and in the verbal repartee; as he states, he completes the poem and defeats de Valvert. For Cyrano, composing the poem is an integral part of the fight itself, an illustration that there is little distinction between his mental and physical prowess—and that these powers serve as tools to maintain his individuality and freedom.
Cyrano's dedication to his art (and obsession with independence) is also depicted in his rejection of de Guiche's patronage. His statement, "I might, (take a patron)/if the thought of anyone's changing a single comma/didn't make my blood curdle," shows his revulsion at the thought of anyone meddling in his affairs. In the end, his insistance on being an independent man brings about his death.
Just as he fights...
(The entire section is 387 words.)
Roxane is one of the most sought after women in Paris. Beautiful, intelligent, and fiercely independent, she lives with her duenna (chaperone) in a comfortable home in Paris. She is Cyrano's cousin, and the object of desire for not only Cyrano and Christian, but the Comte de Guiche and the Vicomte de Valvert as well. Described by Rostand as "delicately reared and bookish," she is a lover of words and not men.
While attracted to Christian's good looks, his lack of social skill and clumsy attempts at conversation turn her off. It is only when Roxane hears the words of Cyrano—spoken through Christian—that she is charmed. Convinced that Christian is both handsome and intelligent, it is she that devises a plan to thwart the Comte de Guiche's late-night meeting so that she may marry Christian. It is her quick thinking that convinces the Capuchin (priest) to marry them; despite this cunning, she is nevertheless fooled by Cyrano's ruse.
Roxane proves to be a faithful and loving wife to the end by staying in a convent after Christian's death. She resists the advances of the still-ardent Comte de Guiche, and her only link to the outside world is her faithful cousin Cyrano, who is her regular visitor. It is only when she realizes that the words Christian spoke came from Cyrano that she declares her love for him. Roxane's physical attraction to Christian—and her enduring belief that it was he who spoke such beautiful words to her—blinds her to...
(The entire section is 267 words.)
The stage manager of the theater where Montfleury was set to perform, he is put in the position of calming the crowd when Cyrano runs Montfleury off the stage. He allows Le Bret and Cyrano to wait in the theater while the mob leaves after the duel with Valvert.
A handsome but tongue-tied soldier from Touraine; Christian comes to Paris to join the Gascony Guards (Cyrano's regiment) and to find the beautiful Roxane.
So overcome is he with Roxane's beauty that he allows Cyrano to woo Roxane with words when it becomes obvious that his good looks are not enough to win her heart. Even after he is married to her, it is Cyrano who continues the relationship, composing moving love letters for Christian. When he finds that the words (Cyrano's heart and soul) are what she loves, the starving and sickly Christian begs Cyrano to tell Roxane the truth. Knowing he cannot continue to dishonestly accept Roxane's love, he seeks death in battle.
Christian is a man with honorable intentions and a good heart. He is also easily led and a victim of his own desires. He willingly allows Cyrano to act as a kind of "emotional surrogate" to make up for the qualities he lacks. He is truly in love with Roxane but knows that her love for him has not been fairly won. He sees an honorable death in battle as the only solution to this problem. It is Christian's hope that, in his absence, Cyrano and Roxane can find true...
(The entire section is 1111 words.)