Cyrano de Bergerac

by: Edmond Rostand

Act II, scenes vii–xi

Summary Act II, scenes vii–xi

Rostand expresses in words the code of behavior to which Cyrano swears. Cyrano’s refusal of Richelieu’s patronage is significant. Rather than pander to money and power by taking a great offer to become financially and politically backed by the most powerful man in France, Cyrano prefers to live by the ideals and values that he holds dear. Moreover, Cyrano’s argument with Le Bret over Cyrano’s rash behavior shows his allegiance to integrity, impetuousness, bravery, wit, the pursuit of glory, and the idealization of love and women—all in the face of great enmity. These connote the most important, recurring themes of the play.

Another important theme of Cyrano de Bergerac is the traditional contrast between inner worth and outward appearance, embodied mainly in the opposing characters of Cyrano and Christian. Christian and Cyrano are opposites in several ways. One is ugly, the other handsome. One is smart and artistic, the other simple. One is confident, the other noticeably shy but effectively charming. Cyrano, despite his awkward physical appearance, is the “most delightful man under the sun,” a consistently brilliant and soulful man. Christian is beautiful to look at, but he lacks wit, poetry, and fire. By working together to woo Roxane, they form a more powerful single character, a “romantic hero.” This romantic hero has the best of both worlds: Cyrano’s inner beauty and Christian’s outer beauty. Though together they form a romantic hero, Cyrano and Christian also risk becoming perceived as part fraud and part coward.