Cyrano De Bergerac

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Themes and Colors
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
The Many Kinds of Love Theme Icon
Panache Theme Icon
Social Hierarchy and the Romantic Ideal Theme Icon
Loyalty and Honor Theme Icon
LitCharts assigns a color and icon to each theme in Cyrano De Bergerac, which you can use to track the themes throughout the work.

From the first scene of Act 1—in which patrons gather in a theater to watch a play-within-the-play—it’s clear that Cyrano de Bergerac is a play about acting, appearances, and illusions. In the course of its five acts, Rostand offers some surprising ideas about the philosophy of appearances, which challenge and sometimes flatly contradict the cliché that “true beauty comes from within.”

Part of the conceit of Cyrano de Bergerac is that Christian de Neuvillette

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The predominance of appearances, words, and faces in Cyrano de Bergerac presupposes love between different characters—without love, there would be no need for Cyrano and Christian de Neuvillette to craft elaborate lies and draft long letters to Roxane. And yet because Cyrano presupposes the existence of love, it’s often hard to say, what, exactly, real love is, especially because the play challenges our intuitive definition of love as a sincere, honest bond between…

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The last word of Cyrano de Bergerac is “panache,” which Webster’s Dictionary defines as “dash or flamboyance in style and action.” It’s worth investigating the history of this word—which Rostand’s play popularized—a little further.

Originally, “panache” was a French word referring to a plume on a military helmet. The famous French monarch Henry IV was fond of wearing a white plume on his helmet whenever he fought in battle, and he even told his soldiers…

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Although Cyrano de Bergerac takes place in the 17th century, it was written at the end of the 19th century, and Rostand looks back on 200-year-old French society with a mixture of admiration and disdain. One of the most foreign aspects of life in 17th century France—almost as strange to Rostand as it is to us—is the prevalence of a strict social hierarchy, one rooted in religion and the landed aristocracy.

Especially in the first…

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The paradox of Cyrano de Bergerac­—and the source of a lot of its comedy—is that Cyrano, a man who prides himself on his independence, his “panache,” and his refusal to serve a master, must keep his word to another man: the clumsy, foolish Christian de Neuvillette. In general, the play explores the nuances of loyalty and honor by studying the relationships between Christian, Cyrano, and Roxane.

To begin with, Cyrano sacrifices…

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