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Motifs are recurring structures, contrasts, or literary
devices that can help to develop and inform the text’s major themes.
The first few scenes of Cyrano de Bergerac demonstrate
the fallen grace of French society during Rostand’s time. In the
late nineteenth century, Rostand felt that the French people had
forgotten the values and ideals that made them a proud and virtuous
people, the qualities and character that made them honorable and
specifically French. The critique of society continues in the presentation
of several peripheral characters. De Guiche is a corrupted, powerful
man who fails to win the respect that a leader should. Lise is unfaithful
to her husband and leaves him to seek sensual adventure.
Cyrano is constantly composing, whether he
writes ballads as he fights, recites poetry in the dark, or writes
love letters for Christian. His compositions are not just literary;
they also represent a way for Cyrano to create an identity for himself
that he feels he can never have in real life. The letters in which
he declares his love for Roxane begin to replace Cyrano himself.
However, they also reveal a failing on Cyrano’s part: just as Christian
cannot express himself in words, Cyrano cannot express himself in action.
The only action he undertakes to win Roxane’s heart is this deceptive
composing. The letters become inseparable from Cyrano’s inner beauty.
Many characters in the play are fighters, whether they
are members of the cadets or the musketeers. In the first three
acts, these characters display their strengths and settle their
arguments with swords. The play has a violent twist. When the play
presents the war in Act IV, much of the play’s tension begins to
heighten, and the climax suddenly occurs: Christian dies in Roxane’s
arms while Cyrano looks on. After this heart-wrenching scene, most
of the play’s force, or conflict, dissolves, and the characters
return to their lives however they may have changed.
Ace your assignments with our guide to Cyrano de Bergerac!