This is a beautiful tragedy – funny, entertaining, and heartbreaking at the same time. Rostand presents us with a tragedy in line with that of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. It is one beautiful story of love, devotion, and self-sacrifice. Cyrano and Roxane are never to be united as a couple. But, they, in a way, are never to be parted either. Cyrano’s love for Roxane is both requited and unrequited. True that Roxane doesn’t directly return Cyrano’s love for her, but it is Cyrano whom she loves vicariously. It is Cyrano’s heart and soul she loves through Christian.
The hero of the play, Cyrano de Bergerac, is both a soldier and a poet. He is witty, chivalrous, brave, and loyal. But there is one drawback; he has a huge nose, which makes him look ugly, or so he thinks. He hides his love for the beautiful Roxane, for fear of being rejected, little knowing that the intelligent Roxane is not drawn to outer beauty but to inner beauty. His feeling of inferiority and his misunderstanding of a woman’s heart cause heartbreak to both him and Roxane.
Cyrano is a romantic hero, a one the readers will fall in love with and wish to be loved in return 🙂 He is also an icon of tragic love, both like and unlike Romeo, in their tragic love. The character of Cyrano is so well portrayed by Rostand, that we become instantly sensitive to his feelings – his happiness, misery, and despair. Our hearts break for him for his unrequited love, but they are also made glad by the knowledge that it is Cyrano who Roxane truly loves, not knowing it. I enjoyed this conflicting feeling. It is not often that one becomes both happy and sad at the same time in a piece of literature. When that happens, I consider it to be a wonderful piece of literature. That is exactly what I feel about the play. Amazingly, absolutely wonderful! The best love tragedy I’ve read after Romeo and Juliet.
The setting of the play is the time of the reign of Louis XIII when Cardinal Richelieu wielded extraordinary power over the governance of France. The time period and Cyrano’s profession as a Cadet of Gascoyne, has given Rostand enough room to create an adventure, in addition to the dominant love theme. There was enough swashbuckling to entertain an adventurous and action loved mind. This combination of adventure and love arouses varying emotions. I enjoyed the fact that you could laugh, cry, and cheer at the same time. This is truly an admirable feature in a play, the arousing of conflicting, strong emotions, for it helps the audience to form a close bond with the play.
Considering all, Cyrano de Bergerac is a well written play. The historical and contemporary success of its performance can vouch for that. The Five Acts, in their separate episodes, were excellent; only the flow from one Act to the next wasn’t smooth giving an overall detached impression. This could be an effect of reading, however, and not one that would’ve been spotted in a performance. And a play is always fully enjoyed and appreciated when you watch it performed.