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Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Symbols



As a traditionally phallic symbol of manhood, Cyrano's nose represents his self-doubt and fear of rejection in love. Although Cyrano claims his huge nose is a sign of a witty, brave man, he actually is very insecure about it. As a result, he takes offense at any man who makes the slightest derogatory comment about his nose and, if the man doesn't apologize, will fight him to the death. Because of his insecurity, Cyrano believes that a woman could never love him and fears that if he does declare his love, the woman will mock him. When Le Bret states that Cyrano should express his love for Roxane, he replies, "Yes, and make her laugh at me! That's/The only thing I'm afraid of."


Rostand uses the symbol of the sword to represent Cyrano's fight for his ideals and for speaking the truth. For example, when Cyrano learns that 100 men plan to ambush Ligniére, he uses his sword to fight the gang, thereby upholding his ideals, which in this case would be fighting for the underdog against unfair odds. Near the end of the play, Cyrano waves his sword as he fights the adversaries that threaten to defeat his ideals. He declares, "I know you all, all my old enemies./Lies! Take that! Ha! Compromise, Spite, Cowardice." So, Cyrano's sword could be seen as the weapon of truth he uses to fight hypocrisy and falsehoods.


For Rostand, the symbol of the moon has a dual meaning, as there are two sides of the moon: light and dark. First, the author uses it to represent deception in Act 3, Scene 8, where Cyrano claims to have just traveled from the moon in an effort to delay de Guiche. During this scene Cyrano refers to the moon many times as he weaves an elaborate lie. The moon, therefore, could be seen as Cyrano's muse for his deception. However, in Act 5 the author uses the moon to represent how Cyrano's soul will continue to be drawn to the truth after his death. Cyrano states, "The moon—no heaven for me./They say I'll find good company there—Socrates, Galileo." Socrates and Galileo, like Cyrano, are known for standing up for the truth against oppression.

Autumn Leaves

In Act 5, Rostand uses autumn leaves as a symbol to represent dying in a graceful manner, as Cyrano does. Cyrano seems to identify with the falling leaves, describing the grace of their final flight.

For de Guiche, the autumn leaves represent the death of his dreams as he climbs the ladder of success. He likens these leaves to "rustling dead illusions and regrets" trailing after him.

In addition, the leaves represent Roxane's sad, mournful heart. She relates that it's "a perfect autumn day" for a "sad heart."

Questions for Symbols

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