Last Updated on May 26, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 594
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 silent lover, the young soldier has greater depths of feeling and finer sensibilities than he can express. He is undoubtedly handsome and generous, but his valor in battle is offset by this morbid shyness in love, and although he acts the dupe of his mentor, he resents very much his own inadequacies. He dies bravely, knowing that another man has won his wife but realizing that he will not be betrayed by his beloved friend.
Roxane (rohk-SAHN), or Madeleine Robin, who as precieuse seems the prototype of thoughtless love but who as suffering widow becomes the ideal of womanhood. Bright, beautiful, gay, and youthful, Roxane is the symbol of beauty that all men desire. She insists that the amenities and conventions of love come before the character of the lover, only to learn that there is no substitute for sincerity of feeling and expression. She is also a romantic and somewhat silly heroine who becomes wise and thoughtful only after revelation.
Ragueneau (rah-geh-NOH), a pastry cook/poet who, as a bard of the oven, befriends the hero and holds a salon for destitute artists. This tippling pretender suffers the scorn of his wife and the appetite of his poets. He is loyal to an ideal and constant in his loyalties.
Le Bret (leh bray), the friend and counselor of Cyrano and the author’s commentator who interprets the brave soldier’s heart. Steadfast in his regard for the hero, Le Bret is the only one permitted to speak directly to him of his inconsistencies. He always proves loyal and devoted.
Montfleury (mohn-flew-REE), a famous actor whom Cyrano will not permit to play because of his lack of refinement and sensitivity to language. As the pompous idol of his day, the actor represents popular tastes, a symbol of decadence that Cyrano cannot tolerate.
The comte de Guiche
The comte de Guiche (geesh), who woos Roxane without success and who has his revenge when he sends Christian, her husband, into battle and to his death. Although a representative of civil and military power, he displays some redeeming features even while he plays the villain of the play. He is a step above the fops and dandies, and he admires the bravery of Cyrano against the odds of life.