Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Discussion Questions 31 - 40


In Cyrano de Bergerac, how does Rostand show that Roxane has matured?

Rostand shows the maturation of Roxane through her views of Christian. Early in the play Roxane becomes infatuated with Christian because he is handsome. Roxane also believes that Christian must be clever, but she does not know this for sure. Later when Christian begins to use Cyrano's words to woo Roxane, she falls in love with both his outer and inner beauty. During the balcony scene in Act 3, Roxane is enraptured by the words of love spoken by a person she believes is Christian. However, she allows Christian to kiss her when she thinks about how handsome he is. Eventually in Act 4, Roxane has come to love what she believes is Christian's soul to such an extent that his outer beauty means nothing to her. She comes to realize that outer beauty does not necessarily reflect inner beauty. Even if Christian became ugly, she knows he would still have a beautiful soul.

In Act 4, Scene 10 of Cyrano de Bergerac, why might Rostand have Christian be the first cadet to die in the battle?

By having Christian be the first cadet to die in battle, Rostand implies that Christian might have been so distraught that he committed a form of suicide. Before the battle Christian learns that Roxane really loves Cyrano not him. Devastated, Christian goes into battle. Unable to face the sham of his relationship with Roxane, Christian could have gone to the front of the battle with the hope of being killed. By having Christian die early in the battle, Rostand provides a reason for Cyrano not to tell Roxane of his love her. He does not want to disillusion Roxane when she is grieving Christian. Besides, Cyrano believes he will soon die in battle. So he might as well let Roxane believe that she loves Christian.

In Act 5 of Cyrano de Bergerac, what are three ways that Rostand creates sympathy for Cyrano before he appears?

Before Cyrano appears in Act 5, Rostand creates sympathy for him in the following ways. Through the conversation between the nuns in Act 5, Scene 1, Rostand shows the strong affection they have for Cyrano. Even though Cyrano does not practice Christianity, the nuns are fond of him because he seems to be a good person at heart. Cyrano often teases the nuns, but he does so in a loving way. For their part, the nuns hope to convert him; but even if they don't, they still care for him. In Act 5, Scene 2, Le Bret describes Cyrano's extreme loneliness and poverty. In fact Le Bret fears that Cyrano might die from living in these conditions. He says, "Loneliness, hunger, and cold December winds creeping into his room—those are the enemies who will be the death of him." Ragueneau describes how Cyrano has been seriously wounded through an assassination attempt. A servant dropped a log on Cyrano's head as he passed under a window. This cowardly attempt to take Cyrano's life creates sympathy for him because it deprives him of the chance to face his opponent in a duel as he would wish.

In Act 5, Scene 2 of Cyrano de Bergerac, why might Rostand have chosen to show de Guiche being regretful?

Rostand has de Guiche show regret about his life because the author wants to make the point that all people make choices that have consequences. Even de Guiche, who appears to have complete worldly success, has made choices he regrets. De Guiche has climbed the ladder of success by being manipulative and pragmatic. As a result he has decided to compromise or let go of his ideals and dreams. Upon reflection, de Guiche feels sadness for his lost dreams, which seem to nag at him. De Guiche states, "As one climbs,/The ducal ermine trails along a wake/Of rustling dead illusions and regrets."

In Act 5, Scenes 4 and 5 of Cyrano de Bergerac, how does Rostand use autumn as a symbol for Roxane?

Rostand use autumn as a symbol torepresent Roxane's mourning for Christian. She has been grieving for Christian for the past 15 years. The autumn setting reflects the beauty and sadness of her grief. Rostand uses an autumn leaf falling on her tapestry to foreshadow the death of Cyrano that Roxane is about to deal with. Finally Roxane complains about the autumn colors being so difficult. Apparently she is creating a tapestry of an autumn scene. By saying this Roxane indicates that the autumn of life with its decay and death are difficult to handle. Soon she will have to face such a difficulty with the death of Cyrano.

In Act 5, Scene 5 of Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac, what might be the significance of Cyrano listing a series of news stories?

Rostand has Cyrano matter-of-factly recite a list of news stories to create a counterpoint to his dying from a wound. By creating such a contrast, the author makes Cyrano's dying even more sympathetic and poignant. The audience knows that all these news items really mean nothing to Roxane or Cyrano. They are just a trivial way to pass the day. However, as she focuses on the trivial, something more significant, the death of her true love, is happening. Cyrano stresses this contrast when he lists his murder as the last news story, thereby including it with the other trivial news, while Roxane realizes with agony that this news story deals with the death of the person she loves.

In Act 5, Scene 5 of Cyrano de Bergerac, why might Rostand have Cyrano keep on denying that he wrote the love letters even though Roxane knows he did?

In Act 5, Scene 5, Rostand has Cyrano attempt to deny that he wrote the love letters to emphasize his fear of being rejected and laughed at by the person he loves. This fear is so deeply entrenched that he desperately tries to deny writing the letter even when it is obvious that he did. He probably feels unworthy or ashamed about admitting his love because of his ugly appearance. He might feel that a man who loves the outwardly beautiful Roxane should also be attractive. In addition Cyrano denies writing the letters out of respect for Christian. Even though Christian did not write the letters, Cyrano knows he died loving Roxane. When Roxane notices a tear stain on a letter, Cyrano replies, "The tears were mine, but Christian shed the blood." Finally Cyrano probably did not want to disillusion Roxane by telling her that she has been grieving a person for 15 years that she didn't love.

In Act 5, Scene 6 of Cyrano de Bergerac, why does Roxane say that she is to blame?

Roxane claims she is to blame because of her proud insistence that a person as outwardly beautiful as Christian must also have inner beauty or cleverness. In Act 5, Scene 6, Roxane tells Cyrano, "He simply must be eloquent, I know it. He couldn't look like that and be a savage." Her bias confirms for Cyrano that an outwardly beautiful woman like Roxane could never love a man with an ugly appearance, such as he. She could never get past his ugly appearance to appreciate the beauty of Cyrano's soul. If Roxane had admitted that she might be mistaken about the pairing of outer and inner beauty, Cyrano might have felt more courage about admitting his love for her. Instead he devised a deception that involved writing love letters for Christian, which leads to tragedy for all involved.

In Act 5, Scene 6 of Cyrano de Bergerac, in what ways does Cyrano's last speech summarize his life?

Cyrano's last speech summarizes his life because it emphasizes how his insecurity and anger about his large nose has inspired him to uphold lofty ideals. Cyrano starts out the speech by saying, "Do you know, I think she's looking at my nose, that noseless thing." The she that Cyrano refers to is Death. Throughout his life, Cyrano's anger about people focusing on his nose and not on his deeper, inner qualities, such as being truthful, just, and compassionate, has caused him to uphold these ideals no matter the odds. In the speech Cyrano goes on to say he knows his fight for these ideals is hopeless, but "hopeless odds make the beauty of the thing." As a result, even on the brink of death, Cyrano continues to fight against compromise, spite, cowardice, and stupidity, as he has done throughout his life. Throughout it all, Cyrano has behaved and fought with a distinctive style all his own. At the end of his speech, Cyrano says that his panache, or style, will be the one thing he can take with him into the afterlife.

In Act 5, Scene 6 of Cyrano de Bergerac, why does Cyrano blame stupidity for getting him in the end?

Cyrano says that stupidity got him in the end because he feels he has died in a stupid way. All through his life Cyrano has prided himself on fighting his opponents face to face without resorting to any underhanded tactics. He most likely hoped his death would happen during one of these fights. However, he ended up being killed by a person he never saw. Cyrano had no chance to defend himself or his integrity. His assassination was an act of cowardice. A servant dropped a log on Cyrano's head. Cyrano sees this way of dying as being stupid for a person like him. Throughout his life Cyrano has been fighting against stupidity with the truth. So he probably views stupidity as his biggest opponent. As a result he imagines that stupidity will be the death of him.

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