The Main Statement of Rostand in Cyrano De Bergerac
Rostand’s classic, Cyrano De Bergerac, resonates with audiences of all eras and cultures essentially because it reflects on a universal theme. It is conflict, and specifically the internal conflicts of a hero struggling with ambitions of the material with his innermost, spiritual and intellectual self. All of this is within the desire Cyrano feels for Roxane, which guides his behavior. This love, however, does not destroy him. Instead, Cyrano creates his own destruction because he cannot reconcile the conflicting forces within him. Rostand then offers a message to the world as he embodies the contrasting needs of human beings within the hero. Tensions are inevitable as people deal with what they most desire and what they know to be most fundamentally meaningful. However, and as the following explores, Cyrano’s tragic and self-inflicted death exists to emphasize that the spiritual is the only enduring and worthwhile ambition. This is true because even our efforts to enjoy worldly advantages are ultimately directed to this much greater end.
To understand Rostand’s main statement, it is necessary to see how he develops this through presenting the broader tensions between the material and the spiritual. The play’s beginning offers a strong representation of this, and how moving between the two worlds is an endless conflict or pain for Cyrano. He values art and honor, and his actions in the theater reinforce this. At the same time, Cyrano is unable to accept or live with what he sees as his deformity. His nose is completely symbolic of the obstacle to human happiness, or how human beings believe love and spiritual happiness may be gained. Cyrano makes this clear to Le Bret, in terms of the torture he feels in knowing that what he wants most in the world cannot be his: “Thought soars to ecstasy… O sudden fall!/ The shadow of my profile on the wall!” (Rostand I). Early, Rostand is exposing an obsession, and the hero’s actual relying on it to deny himself happiness. Intelligent, humane, and artistic, Cyrano is revealed as trapped by his own misguided beliefs. Equally importantly, he already confuses the spiritual with the worldly because he refuses to consider that his being and soul could be more meaningful to Roxane than his face.
Then, in interacting with Christian, Cyrano completely confuses his own ambitions and loses himself in trying to maneuver a compromise between love and the demands of the world as he understands them. At this moment, in fact, when he conceives of his plan, he sets his own destruction in motion. The key here is that he refuses to consider that Roxane has depth. Cyrano’s self-disgust is so enormous, it does not occur to him that she may be as spiritual as himself, so he creates his partnership with Christian: “Will you complete me, and let me complete you?”(II). In this, Rostand is expressing how tragically we act based on a foundation that is false. There is the initial thinking, it is wrong or misguided, but we build upon it because we believe we have no other hope of gaining happiness. The playwright’s deeper message is then a kind of plea to the audience. He is strongly urging it to see what Cyrano cannot see, and that any denial of the real self can never do anything but perpetuate unhappiness. Put another way, Cyrano wrongly turns to the material, or Christian’s worldly beauty, instead of depending on the greater value of who he is. In this, the greater deception is of himself, and not Roxane.
Lastly, Rostand exposes Cyrano’s tragic mistake in the conclusion, when the hero finally understands that he has confused the material or obvious for what most matters. In a sense, he must die because his error is so enormous, it kills his soul. This occurs because, even here, he cannot truly accept that his insistence on his scheme, based on his mind as needing to compensate for his deeper desires, is wrong. To some extent, he understands the reality as Roxane reveals her feelings to him. Even so, he is not able to set aside the role he believes he has had no choice but to play: “Look you, it was my life/ To be the prompter everyone forgets!” (V). The greatest mistake Cyrano makes, ironically, is believing that the superficial can somehow substitute for the real or enduring. Of course, self-loathing is largely responsible for all of this. Nonetheless, the loses everything because he believed he could have a part of everything. The nose itself gains in power as a material curse because Cyrano allows this, and real tragedy is reinforced because, as the audience knows, the character is more enlightened than this.
Rostand’s play is a romantic tragedy, but it also makes a wider statement. The devices of Cyrano’s nose and his arrangement with Christian represent how people will decide on disastrous courses when they confuse external realities with real meaning. More exactly, Cyrano is doomed because he cannot conceive of being loved by Roxane, and this flaw exists because he foolishly views her as a material gain beyond his own value. Spiritual, his self-disgust blinds him to her own spirituality, and he essentially destroys himself in every way. In the final analysis, then, Cyrano’s tragic and self-inflicted end reinforces that the spiritual, or real love, is the only enduring and worthwhile goal. This is Rostand’s primary message because even Cyrano’s efforts to enjoy some worldly satisfaction is based on this much greater end, and that is the playwright’s warning to his audiences.
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Rostand’s classic, Cyrano De Bergerac, resonates with audiences of all eras and cultures essentially because it reflects on a universal theme. It is conflict, and specifically the internal conflicts of […]