Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac Essay Questions

  1. 1

    Which components of the actual Cyrano’s life does Rostand include in his play?

    Rostand based his character off of a real-life individual whose actions, companions, and writings informed his literary creation to a great extent. The real Cyrano was a swordsman and poet who was credited with writing fantastic tales in an early science fiction style. He was the cousin of Roxane, was wounded at the siege of Arras, was killed by a log dropping on his head, etc. There is not much knowledge about the central crux of the play in terms of his romantic feelings for his cousin, however; this seems to be an invention of Rostand's. Regardless, almost all of the events that befall Cyrano and almost all the character traits ascribed to him are accurate.

  2. 2

    Does De Guiche redeem himself?

    This does not have an easy answer. On the one hand, it seems as if De Guiche is redeemed, for he is brave during the battle, earning the praise of his fellow Gascons. He largely leaves Roxane alone in the future, pestering her only slightly about living in the convent. He admits that he somewhat envies Cyrano. There is one ambiguous comment he makes, though, which is perhaps key to this question: he remarks that he heard Cyrano might be hurt soon. Some critics see this as a nod to what is coming with the log, while others think it is a legitimate warning. De Guiche's "double agent" and his actual bravery (the white plume, anyone?) are still contesting with his later good behavior, making him overall a complex figure and one that cannot easily be lauded or condemned without having more information. 

  3. 3

    Is the play a comedy or drama?

    Most critics refer to the play as a comedy for the outlandishness of its plot and characters, its parodic style, its lack of realism, its rollicking iambic pentameter, etc. There are also dark moments and themes, though; revenge, death, betrayal, and hypocrisy are common amongst the characters. Roxane is misled, Christian and Cyrano both die, De Guiche rues his position, Ragueneau never becomes a poet, and the cadets starve and fight at the siege. Overall, though, the play still seems infused with parody and humor due to the way that it is written and structured, making it more of a comedy than a drama.

  4. 4

    How does the play's style compare with the typical style of the times in which it was written?

    The play was written in an era in which realism/naturalism prevailed; thus, plays were intended to focus, documentary-style, on "regular" people, ridding off frippery and artifice. This play, however, brought to the stage beautiful maidens, mistaken identities, dashing heroes, long and bombastic verses about love, and more. It was much closer to the Romantic works of decades past, which is what critics speculate made it attractive to audiences tired of the gritty authenticity of their day.

  5. 5

    What does the play suggest about physical beauty?

    On the one hand, the play seems to suggest that physical beauty is importance. It is the sole reason why Roxane and Christian initially fall in love with each other, and its apparent lack is why Cyrano believes he has no chance with his cousin and turns to his clever plot to tell her how he feels. Eventually, though, physical beauty no longer seems to be that significant, as Roxane decides that what matters more to her is a keen, poetic mind, and by the end of the play can embrace Cyrano for who he is. Rostand suggests that one's inner worth is more valuable than one's outside appearance, which can be misleading, fleeting, and superficial.