Character Analysis Cyrano de Bergerac


Cyrano is, first and last, an idealist. He is not, however, a blind idealist. He does not expect tangible rewards for his idealistic behavior. When he throws his money to the players (Act I) he knows full well that he will be hungry, but the beau geste means more to him than material things — even food and drink. His own comfort never is a motive for action with Cyrano.

This idealist with his eyes open can also be a very intelligent man. He can disdain the very precise "establishment" rules because he does have such intelligence and competence. He can beat these people at their own game, though he does not often choose to play their game. For instance, Cyrano won the musicians for an evening because he had won a bet about grammar. At the time in which the play was set, grammar was a complicated and extremely technical subject. Cyrano knows all the rules for polite behavior and speech, but these do not matter to him as much as matters of the spirit.

Cyrano is as careless of personal danger as he is of personal comfort. He is truly a brave warrior. He remains calm and cheerful in the most trying of circumstances. He is such a good swordsman that he can fight off a hundred men. In battle he is brave, but he is also brave in the much more difficult situation presented by the siege. He never loses his courage, his good humor, and his ability to cheer the other men. It is important to note that he is cool and collected when other brave soldiers become despondent. He is true to Roxane and Christian unto death. He never reveals that he wrote the letters that Roxane has accepted as coming from Christian. He always visits Roxane with delightful bits of gossip.

Cyrano never was successful in a worldly way. His play was never produced, though another used some of it. Even as a mature man, he is often hungry, though he well knows that his talents could make him rich and famous if he chose to use them for that purpose. He is extremely versatile and knows a great deal about many subjects. He simply does not ever choose to be rich or famous — he prefers to be right in his own eyes. He is inner-directed, in that the opinions and standards of the world really do not matter to him. He rebels by not playing the game; he never adopts another's standards for his behavior; he is true to himself and his ideals.

This lack of change in the character could be a basis for criticism. Rostand has not created a growing, evolving personality. He did not try to do so. Cyrano was, at the beginning of the play, the epitome of the romantic idealist, and he remains so to the end. He is a perfect example of the type. The flaws of the character grow directly and logically from the perfection of the type. Cyrano is uncompromising, idealistic, faithful, brave, consistent, disdainful of acclaim and wealth, intelligent to the point of brilliance, creative, imaginative, witty, knowledgeable. Any change in the character would be a compromise of some sort. This is why Cyrano remains the perfect example of the romantic idealist — anything added to or subtracted from the character would make him less so.

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