(Drama for Students)

Search for Self
Cyrano de Bergerac is a story about fear, beauty, loyalty, friendship, love, and difference. In Cyrano's search for his self—and the conflict between who he is and who he'd like to be—he manages to both gain friends and make enemies. He simultaneously challenges those around him while entertaining others. He must ultimately believe that it is possible for Roxane to love him, and to believe himself worthy of that love, before he can make peace with his enemies. Unfortunately, this realization comes too late for both of them, and he dies as Roxane declares her love for him.

Cyrano is afraid to declare his love for Roxane, his cousin, because he fears rejection and ridicule—he believes that a woman as beautiful as Roxane could never love a man who is not also physically beautiful. This fear drives him to succeed at swordsmanship, poetry, and scathing wit. He drives the actor Montfleury from the stage, and fights a duel with the Vicomte de Valvert with both his sword and his words. Cyrano fights not only against his foes, but against his own fear of rejection.

There is much talk of beauty and and its counterpart ugliness in Cyrano de Bergerac, Cyrano believes himself too ugly to be loved by the beautiful Roxane (or any woman). Yet he fails to properly value the more elusive beauty that he possesses in his mind and heart, a beauty that can create his moving poetry and cause Roxane to swoon at his words. Ironically, it is Cyrano's

This nose precedes me everywhere/A quarter of an hour in front, to say, 'Beware/Don't love Cyrano' to even the ugliest /And now Cyrano has to love the best,/The brightest, bravest, wittiest, the most/Beautiful!"

Yet Cyrano fails to recognize the source of his own beauty, his heart and mind. With this beauty he creates moving poetry, summons words that cause Roxane to swoon, and rallies the spirits of starving, dejected soldiers.

There are numerous contrasts between beauty and its opposite in the play: with Christian it is his dashing outward appearance against his limited intelligence; with Cyrano it is the direct opposite. It is only when Roxane writes to Christian/Cyrano during the siege of Arras that the two men realize that words mean more to her than looks: "Your beauty is a barrier to you/If you were ugly.,,/... I know I should/Be able to love you more." There lies the notion that Cyrano's beauty comes from within, and has more depth than Christian's. Roxane is in love with the words—Cyrano's words—and not Christian's handsome exterior. The sense that beauty comes from within, from the soul, rather than the body is strong. The play's tragedy...

(The entire section is 1121 words.)