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Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Character Analysis


Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac is the main protagonist of Cyrano de Bergerac. He is a skilled swordsman, a talented poet, and an idealist. He has a huge nose, which makes his appearance ugly. Cyrano has dealt with abuse concerning his appearance since he was a child. Even his mother showed no affection for him because of his ugliness. Women have often mocked him and men insulted him because of his looks. To protect himself from abuse, he has learned to fight any man who presumes to criticize his appearance, especially his nose. He does this very well, being a superb swordsman. Also through the difficulties he has endured, Cyrano has learned to appreciate inner qualities, such as truth, beauty, and compassion for the downtrodden. He defends these ideals as fiercely as he does his nose. However, Cyrano has a tragic flaw, which is linked to his strengths. Although he vigilantly protects his integrity and ideals, he cannot let his guard down and allow himself to be vulnerable with a woman. Cyrano loves Roxane but fears that if he expresses his love to her she will laugh at him because of his ugly looks. If Roxane did this, Cyrano could not fight her like he would a man who insulted him. Instead, he would just have to endure the pain of his humiliation. Unable to deal with this possibility, Cyrano expresses his love through a surrogate, namely Christian. This deception leads to tragedy for Cyrano, Roxane, and Christian.


Madeleine Robin, who goes by the name of Roxane, is the main female character in Cyrano de Bergerac. She has many positive qualities, including courage and intelligence. She develops her intelligence through a group she belongs to called the précieuses. This group consists of women who discuss ideas and issues of the day. Because of her courage and willfulness, she does many admirable things, such as expressing independent ideas during a time when this was strongly discouraged for women. Similarly, she bravely goes through enemy lines to see Christian and bring food for the soldiers. However, Roxane is also very young. At the start of the play she is probably in her early 20s. As a result, she still has some naive notions, such as believing that a handsome man, such as Christian, must also be clever. During the play Roxane matures and comes to value inner beauty more than outer beauty. Even so she fails to recognize Cyrano's love for her until near his death. Also, her willfulness at times can be applied in a deceitful manner. For example, to marry Christian, she deceives Count de Guiche.

Christian de Neuvillette

Christian de Neuvillette is a handsome young man who is not clever, especially when he is trying to express his love verbally to a woman. Even so Christian has many positive inner qualities, including courage and integrity. In fact, of all the main characters in Cyrano de Bergerac, Christian is the only one who chafes against being deceptive, while Cyrano, Roxane, and de Guiche all eagerly commit acts of deception. However, because of his lack of confidence in his intellect, Christian can be swayed by people who are more intelligent, such as Cyrano. As a result, Cyrano is able to convince Christian to deceive Roxane. Also because of his acquiescence, Christian allows Cyrano to manipulate him like a puppet, giving him lines to say to Roxane. When Christian realizes the sham of his relationship with Roxane, he is devastated and commits a form of suicide by going to the front of a battle.

Count de Guiche

Count de Guiche is the main antagonist of Cyrano de Bergerac. He is a wealthy, ambitious nobleman who has a cold, calculating personality. In many ways, he acts as a foil to Cyrano. Cyrano is idealistic; de Guiche is pragmatic. Cyrano has a foolhardy courage; de Guiche has a calculating courage. For example, Cyrano wants to wear a white sash, even though doing so makes him a target in battle. In contrast de Guiche discards the sash in battle to increase his odds of survival. Cyrano has pride for upholding his ideals. De Guiche has the pride of feeling superior to others because of his high rank. De Guiche implies that he once had ideals but lost them as he climbed the ladder of ambition. De Guiche, therefore, is not above ingratiating himself to others if doing so gets him want he wants, such as wealth or fame. In contrast, Cyrano would never ingratiate himself to others. Near the end of the play, Rostand shows de Guiche as a man who has achieved "complete success" in the eyes of the world. Even so, he can't help feeling regret for his lost dreams.

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