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Cyrano de Bergerac

Main Ideas

Key Facts

Main Ideas Key Facts

full title  Cyrano de Bergerac: Heroic Comedy in Five Acts

author  Edmond Rostand

type of work  Play

genre  Heroic comedy, verse play

language  French

time and place written  Paris, France, 1897

date of first performance  December 28, 1897

date of first publication  1898

publisher  Charpentier et Fasquelle

tone  Grandiose, heroic

setting (time)  1640 (Acts I–IV) and 1655 (Act V)

setting (place)  Paris and Arras

protagonist  Cyrano de Bergerac

major conflict  Cyrano loves Roxane but feels he is too ugly to woo her; Cyrano must overcome the severe self-doubt and shame that result from his awkward appearance in order to reveal to Roxane that he wrote Christian’s love letters.

rising action  Roxane asks Cyrano to protect Christian, who is fighting in a war alongside Cyrano, and Cyrano agrees to help Christian court Roxane by writing love letters and allowing Christian to sign them.

climax  Roxane tells Christian she loves him for his soul and not for his physical appearance. Just before Christian dies, Cyrano lies by telling him that Roxane has learned of the forged letters and has chosen Christian over Cyrano. Simultaneously, he recognizes that he can never tell Roxane that he is the true author of Christian’s love letters.

falling action  Cyrano visits Roxane and learns of his role in helping Christian. She declares her love for him, but Cyrano, who has been mortally wounded before visiting Roxane, dies.

themes  Values and virtue; inner and outer beauty; the danger in deception

motifs  Society; the letters; fighting and war

symbols  Individual characters; Cyrano’s nose; Cyrano’s tears and Christian’s blood

foreshadowing  Cyrano tries to write a letter to Roxane before they meet.