Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 2, Scenes 7–8 | Summary

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Summary

Act 2, Scene 7

Carbon de Castel-Jaloux and his cadets come to the cook's shop to congratulate Cyrano for his amazing triumph over 100 men. Still dejected about Roxane's loving Christian, Cyrano seems overwhelmed by this praise. A journalist wants to write an article about Cyrano's feat of bravery, and a poet wants to write a poem about it. Cyrano has had enough of this acclaim. Then Cuigy, Brissaille, and de Guiche arrive and offer their congratulations. Although sad, Cyrano tries to put on a brave face. He recites a jaunty poem about his cadets. De Guiche offers to be a patron for Cyrano and present his poetry to Cardinal Richelieu for review. At first tempted by this offer, Cyrano declines it, saying he will not allow his work to be judged by another. De Guiche reveals that he ordered the gang of 100 men to teach the drunkard Ligniére a lesson. Cyrano pushes the skewered hats of some of the gang members off a sword, laying them at the feet of de Guiche. De Guiche warns Cyrano about the dangers of tilting at windmills and leaves.

Act 2, Scene 8

Cyrano explains to some of the cadets and Le Bret some of the reasons why he turned down de Guiche's offer of patronage. Le Bret wonders why Cyrano has to pick quarrels and make enemies. Cyrano feels his refusal to compromise gives him integrity and backbone.

Analysis

In Act 2, Scenes 7 and 8, the theme of pride takes center stage. Cyrano shows his pride about keeping his independence and therefore his freedom. When de Guiche offers his patronage, Cyrano knows this offer comes with many strings attached. If he accepts this offer, Cyrano will no longer be able to write what he wants or even behave as he wants. For Cyrano, his pride in being independent lifts him above the hypocritical behavior of most people.

However, Rostand shows that the benefit of Cyrano's pride is really a matter of opinion. For de Guiche, being independent of the influence of others can lead to foolishness. While using the freedom of independence to fight a noble cause, a person could be struck down by the powerful and thrown "into the mud." De Guiche sees Don Quixote, who tilted at windmills, as an example of such foolish behavior. But for Cyrano, being cast in the mud for pursuing an ideal is in itself a type of nobility. Because of this, Cyrano admires Don Quixote. In Act 2, Scene 8, Cyrano lists many of the advantages of being independent, such as the ability "to lead my life, to be free" and to "write what I see." However, a person could no doubt list many negative consequences as well, such as being poor or lacking a large audience for one's works.

Rostand combines the themes of pride and deception through Cyrano's behavior toward his admirers. In reality Cyrano feels dejected because he knows Roxane does not return his love. Instead of letting his admirers see his depression, Cyrano puts on an act of high spirits and even recites a jaunty poem. Cyrano's pride in being seen as a carefree adventurer causes him to cover up his heartache.

In addition, Rostand uses the sword as a symbol of fighting for truth and justice, despite overwhelming odds. Cyrano fought for such truth and justice when he faced the 100 men. He sees the truth about 100 men ganging up on Ligniére, namely that such an act is cruel and unjust. So, by using his sword, Cyrano defeats the gang and upholds his ideals. Cyrano displays his triumph by pushing the skewered hats of some gang members off a sword, thereby placing them before de Guiche, who ordered the gang to punish Ligniére. Through his symbolic gesture, Cyrano is saying that truth and justice defeat deception and injustice. However, de Guiche sees such a gesture as being inconsequential. For him Cyrano's victory in itself is of little importance. The benefit in such a victory lies in what the temporary accolades of such triumph can gain for the victor. For example, if Cyrano used his triumph to gain prestige and a post as a poet for Cardinal Richelieu, then the defeat of the 100 men would accomplish something worthwhile. So for Cyrano success comes for upholding ideals; for de Guiche success comes from gaining wealth and power.

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