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Theatre / Cyrano de Bergerac

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Philosophe, physicien,
Rimeur, bretteur, musicien,
Et voyageur aérien,
Grand riposteur du tac au tac,
Amant aussi - pas pour son bien ! -
Ci-gît Hercule-Savinien
De Cyrano de Bergerac,
Qui fut tout et qui ne fut rien.

This 1897 play by French author Edmond Rostand is famous enough that its plot has become a trope in its own right!

Hercule-Savinien de Cyrano de Bergeracthe legendary poet, duelist, soldier, philosopher, physicist, musician, playwright, and novelist — has a problem. He has an enormous nose, which he believes makes him so incredibly ugly that he thinks no woman could ever love him, and fears his love for his cousin Roxane will never be reciprocated. Just when he's mustered the courage to hand her the love letter he's written, she announces that she's in love with the beautiful Christian, and asks Cyrano to protect him against danger. Roxane has fallen in love with Christian at first sight and tells Cyrano that if Christian isn't intellectual enough for her, she would be so disappointed that she could die. Cyrano resolves to subdue his love for her and tell Christian about Roxane’s love. Christian despairs, because he also loves Roxane, and even though he is very handsome, he's inarticulate, and believes Roxane would never accept him. So, Cyrano, trying to express his love and to not disappoint Roxane, eagerly offers to script Christian's courtship, beginning by giving him Cyrano's own love letter for Roxane. Naturally, hilarity (and swashbuckling, and eventually tragedy) ensues.

Is there a moral? Well, "don't let vanity hold you back," and "Love at First Sight is ridiculous." The play also introduced the term panache into the English language. Literally it means "plume", feathers worn in hats and helmets, but it has come to signify confidence and flamboyance such as demonstrated by Cyrano in the play. Critics thus consider the play notable for being both a cruel satire and straight celebration of the tropes and themes most associated with the The Cavalier Years.

The two most respected English translations are Brian Hooker's from 1923 and Anthony Burgess' from 1971. Hooker's version is a translation that doesn't change a line of Rostand's original text except for replacing now-archaic references with references an American audience would be more likely to recognize. While Rostand's French script rhymed, Hooker's English script doesn't, except for things that rhymed in-story such as Cyrano's improvised ballad during his duel with Valvert. Burgess' version is more of a "modern adaptation" in which he claimed he tried to recapture some of Rostand's comedy that he felt was lost in Hooker's translation. It also makes some minor plot changes, combining Cyrano's captain and Cyrano's best friend into one character and replacing Roxane's appearance in person in Act IV with a letter from her. Burgess' version, like the French original, rhymes.

The play is Very Loosely Based on a True Storythere really was a French playwright, duelist, and ghost writer of love letters named Cyrano de Bergerac, and the main characters in the play (Roxane, Christian, Le Bret, De Guiche) also existed. This play is as well researched as a Roman à Clef, because Rostand was an academic that researched France’s literary environment in the 17th century, so all the incidental writers, poets, actors, period pieces, places and battles really existed at that time.

There are two notable film adaptations: one from 1950 in English (using the Hooker translation) which garnered a Best Actor for José Ferrer, and the rapturously-acclaimed 1990 French version directed by Jean-Paul Rappeneau and starring Gérard Depardieu (with the Burgess translation later used for subtitles); the latter is notable for being one of a small percentage of films to achieve a perfect 100% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. In addition, the 1987 movie Roxanne, starring Steve Martin, is a modernized take on the story; while not as acclaimed as the 1990 film, it's also considered highly worth watching. The Disney Channel original movie Let it Shine is also clearly based off of this play, even going as far as to giving the main characters similar names (Cyrano= Cyrus; Christian= Chris; Roxanne= Roxy, whose full name is actually Roxanne). (You can probably skip this one.)

For the various other adaptations of the play, see here.

Cyrano de Bergerac provides examples of:

  • The Ace: Christian and Cyrano decide to create a perfect "hero of romance" that includes each of their best traits because Christian and Cyrano believe that it's the only one who has a chance to be paired with Roxane.
  • The Alcoholic: Ligniere. He dislikes orange juice and milk, only stays at the theater to drink wine, and retires to betake of his pet vice again in a tavern.
  • All Love Is Unrequited: Cyrano, Christian and De Guiche love Roxane, but not one of them will get her. Roxane won’t get any guy too, because she's been Loving a Shadow. Even Ragueneau is abandoned by his wife, Lise. Nobody gets anyone.
  • Analogy Backfire:
    • Cyrano compares himself to Caesar and Titus to justify why he cannot win Roxane’s love. Caesar and Titus were loved not because they were fair but because they were highly charismatic leaders, like Cyrano himself, as Le Bret points out.
    • De Guiche likens Cyrano to Don Quixote, causing Cyrano to point out that that puts De Guiche in the role of the windmill.
  • Ambition Is Evil: The Gascon moral code doesn't approve of getting power through connections instead of personal valor.
  • Appearance Angst: Cyrano's famous Gag Nose is the reason he's terrified of confessing his love to Roxane and claims his mother never loved him.
  • Arc Words: Panache. Hooker translated it as "white plume", while decades later Burgess kept it as panache. Both approaches have their merits: while keeping panache untranslated makes the symbolic meaning immediately clear (and students would probably have an easier time with "What does the white plume symbolize" essays), in the context of the play Cyrano is talking about an actual decoration that is used to symbolize something, not just the concept or quality of panache, akin to how an ancient Roman might talk about "laurels".
  • Aristocrats Are Evil:
  • Arranged Marriage: Implied in De Guiche's marriage, De Guiche tried it with Roxana and De Valvert, and invoked with Christian and Roxane.
  • Artistic License – History:
    • Acte V is explicitly set in 1655, yet it mentions Molière's The Schemes of Scapin, which was created much later (the premiere was in 1671).
    • In the play, the Porte de Nesles fight happens during the events of the 1640 segment (during the hiatus between Act I and Act II). In real life, it happened in 1641 after Cyrano left the army (in the play, it would correspond to the hiatus between Act IV and Act V).
    • Christian de Neuvillette existed, but his real name was Christophe de Neuvillette.
  • As You Know: In Act V Scene I, we have the conversation of two supporting characters, Sister Claire and Mother Margarita, strictly for the audience's benefit.
  • Attention Whore: Ragueneau is one at Act II Scene IV
  • At the Opera Tonight: The play begins at the Burgundy Hotel, a Parisian theater; the public was going to see La Clorise, but before it begins, all they really want to do is play cards, drink wine, eat food, brawl with each other, tease girls, make funny pranks, and pick pockets.
  • Badass Boast: Cyrano's gasconades are spread among the entire play beginning with Act I Scene IV.
    De Guiche: Oh, ay! Another Gascon boast!
  • Balcony Wooing Scene: An iconic and often-parodied example of the trope is the scene when Christian reads romantic lines from the garden to his love interest Roxanne who is up on the balcony, while Cyrano hides and feeds him lines. Eventually, Cyrano takes over and starts wooing Roxanne directly, while pretending to be Christian.
  • Base-Breaking Character: Played In-Universe at Act II Scene VII when Cyrano finds Don Quixote identifiable, compelling, sympathetic and worthy of imitation, whereas Count De Guiche finds him absolutely insufferable.
  • Battle Chant: The Gacony Cadets have a chant they do for Christian to demonstrate their togetherness.
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Being a member of Les Précieuses, Roxane believes that if Christian is fair, therefore he must be eloquent.
  • The Beard: Viscount de Valvert is willing to marry Roxane so Count De Guiche will bully her to be his mistress.
  • Beast and Beauty: In Cyrano's eyes, at least, but without the beast being made beautiful, as he lampshades.
    Roxane: Live, for I love you!
    Cyrano: No, In fairy tales
    When to the ill-starred Prince the lady says
    "I love you!" all his ugliness fades fast —
    But I remain the same, up to the last!
  • Berserk Button: The cadets warn their new recruit Christian not to mention the word "nose" around Cyrano if he values his life. Christian decides to show off by doing it anyway, pushing Cyrano nearly to strangle him. Some actors portraying Cyrano show him growing more visibly annoyed at Christian's interruptions and play up the comedy of his attempting to compose himself. But before this scene, he roasted then wounded de Valvert in a duel for saying "You have a big nose."
  • Be Yourself: Poor Christian believes in this philosophy.
    Christian: I will be loved myself — or not at all!
  • Birds of a Feather: Roxane and Cyrano are both adrenaline junkies who love poetry.
  • Bittersweet Ending: By the end of the play, both Cyrano and Christian are dead, Christian killed in battle and Cyrano mortally wounded on a day he was supposed to visit Roxane while she was in "eternal mourning." During his last moments, however, Roxane confesses her love for Cyrano after realizing he was the author of Christian's letters, and Cyrano dies with the satisfaction of knowing he was good enough for Roxane after all.
  • Bragging Theme Tune: Cyrano improvises a poem about the life of a Gascon Cadet at Act II Scene VII.
  • Brainless Beauty: Christian, in his own eyes at least. In truth, he is far from stupid, as he improvises some wonderfully witty insults regarding Cyrano's nose when they are first introduced. He's just hopeless when it comes to talking to women. Roxane also (ironically) lampshades this trope in Act III Scene I, saying people usually don't believe someone can be both beautiful and smart.
  • Broken Ace: Cyrano, Renaissance man, legendary poet, duelist, soldier, philosopher, physicist, musician, playwright, novelist and excellent actor, who also is an ugly, writhing pile of Freudian Excuse, who systematically throws away every chance of success he has, would rather help some other guy get the girl he loves than confess to her, and assiduously kills anyone who mocks his enormous nose.
  • Broken Pedestal: Molière, in Ragueneau's eyes, for stealing a scene from Cyrano. Cyrano himself thinks Molière has good taste and is truly thankful because he knows that it's the only of his works that will not be forgotten.
  • Bully Hunter: Cyrano proclaims himself a bully hunter at Act I Scene V by challenging anyone to bully his enormous nose, threatening (and dispensing) Disproportionate Retribution.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Most prominently, after some comments about Cyrano's murdering ways by the cadets, Christian makes a Hurricane of Puns about Cyrano's nose.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday:
    First poet: We were stayed by the mob; they are crowded all round the Porte de Nesle!...
    Second poet: Eight bleeding brigand carcasses strew the pavements there — all slit open
    with sword-gashes!
    Cyrano: [raising his head a minute from writing his love letter] Eight?... hold, methought seven.
    [he goes on writing]
  • Buy Them Off: Used by Cyrano after he refuses to apologize to the Burgundy Theater's audience for interrupting La Clorise; he pays Bellerose for all the entrance fees so they can give it back to the public. Cyrano uses it to bribe the Duenna to leave her and Roxane alone, and De Guiche invokes it with Cyrano and Cardinal Richelieu's patronage.
  • Cannot Spit It Out: Justified, Cyrano has a Freudian Excuse that doesn't let him spit it out.
  • Caustic Critic: Cyrano of Montfleury and The Précieuses.
  • The Cavalier Years: Acts I to IV are set in 1640 and Act V is set in 1655.
  • Chef of Iron: Ragueneau is a Supreme Chef who is capable of cooking enough food for a regiment and then risks his life to help Roxane smuggle it through enemy lines for the French troops.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Cyrano's slight cut at Act II Scene III would turn important at Act II Scene VI.
  • Childhood Friend Romance: Between (well, kind of) Cyrano and Roxane.
  • Combat Pragmatism: De Guiche, to the consternation of Cyrano and the Cadets. Throw away the scarf that is his badge of rank ? Sure, as it allows him to rejoin his troops, rally them and lead them to a victorious charge ! Using double agents ? Any time ! It will make the Spanish attack the one unit that will fight to the last man, giving time for the other half of the army to come back ( and since he hates the whole unit, it makes or a very nice bonus )
  • Comically Small Bribe: Cyrano bribes Roxane's Duenna (to leave him alone with Roxane) with pastries.
  • Compliment Backfire: Cyrano tricks the poor Bore to invoke this trope (so he can literally kick the Bore's ass).
    Cyrano: Why then that air disparaging? — perchance you think it large?
    The Bore: [stammering] No, small, quite small—minute!
    Cyrano: Minute! What now?
    Accuse me of a thing ridiculous!
    Small — my nose?
  • Composite Character:
    • Le Bret and Carbon in the Burgess adaptation.
    • The character of Magdeleine Robin alias Roxane in a mix of two actual people: Magdeleine Robineau, the cousin of Cyrano and wife of the real-life Christian de Neuvillette, and her (unrelated) homonym Marie Robineau, a précieuse who was going by the name of "Roxane".
  • Conspicuous Consumption: Cyrano combines it with A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted, as he confides to Le Bret that the bag of crowns he used to pay the entrance fees of the Burgundy Theater was his parental bounty, and so he has not money for the rest of the month. Even when Le Bret scolds Cyrano for his folly, Cyrano calls this "a graceful act". This conduct explains better than anything why Cyrano is condemned to a life of Perpetual Poverty.
  • Crack is Cheaper: This attitude is shown In-Universe (and deconstructed) by the baker Ragueneau in this play. His wife Lise remembers a time when he was a normal person, a Supreme Chef with a successful bakery. But over time, he gets infatuated with the poets and his lifestyle. In the first Act, he pays theater's tickets with pies. By the second Act, he accepts poems in return for his food, he pays too much money to an assistant for baking a pie with the form of a lyre and cannot renounce to even one of his precious poems. He will be completely ruined in the beginning of the third Act, abandoned by his neglected wife Lise and he will attempt an Interrupted Suicide.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The highly probable outcome of any battle (of wits or of swords) with Cyrano.
  • The Cynic: Despite all the evidence the audience can see to the contrary, Cyrano just cannot consider even for a second that Roxane actually might be able to look past his appearance and love him for his soul.
  • Dare to Be Badass: In this play, the Dare to Be Badass is not a Call to Adventure from the Threshold Guardians, but a dare to try Bullying a Dragon from a Jerkass. Hilarity Ensues repeatedly.
  • Decadent Court
  • Deadpan Snarker: Cyrano, Lise, Ragueneau... In a play settled in Paris at The Cavalier Years, Witty Banter is Serious Business for everyone.
  • Despite the Plan:
    • Roxane plans to marry Christian when she sees that De Guiche plans to visit her that night.
    • De Guiche plans a Last Stand for the Gascon Cadets.
    • Cyrano plans Playing Cyrano so he can win Roxane’s love.
  • Died in Your Arms Tonight: Twice!
  • Did Not Get the Girl
  • Didn't Think This Through: Roxane decides to go on with her intent to marry Christian on the spot despite knowing full well her Abhorrent Admirer de Guiche, who told her a few minutes ago he had the papers to send Christian's regiment at war, and whom she only barely convinced to not use them to pull out an Uriah Gambit on Cyrano, is coming. Predictably, when he inevitably arrives and finds out, he is infuriated, and goes on with his plan to send Cyrano and Christian to get killed at Arras out of spite.
  • Disproportionate Retribution: Ligniere exposes Count De Guiche's plan to bully Roxane into being The Mistress. De Guiche sends a hundred men to punish Ligniere.
  • Don't You Dare Pity Me!: Cyrano is this personified.
  • Dramatic Irony: In Act II Scene IV, the poets comment about how the last night, only one man singlehandedly put a whole band of one hundred men to the rout. Only the audience knows that the hero was Cyrano.
  • Duels Decide Everything: Averted.
  • The Duenna
  • Establishing Character Moment: Cyrano's performance at the Burgundy Theater.
  • Excuse Me While I Multitask: Cyrano composes a ballad in honor of his opponent while in the midst of a swordfight.
  • Executive Meddling: An example In-Universe, when Cyrano is tempted to accept a patronage from Cardenal Richelieu, but then de Guiche mentions the one thing Cyrano will not tolerate — someone touching his verses.
  • Exposition Party: Act I Scene II. Before La Clorise begins, all the important characters are in the theater. Some of them are presented to the Naïve Newcomer Christian, and Mr. Exposition Ligniere talks about the relationship between Roxane, De Guiche and Valvert. The protagonist himself is absent, so everyone talks about him... because he promised to ruin the play they intend to attend.
  • Expy:
  • False Friend: The poets who frequent Raguenau's company claim to love his poetry, but they only want to leech off him. Le Bret lampshades that the true sign of success in Paris at The Cavalier Years is being surrounded by False Friends.
  • Farce: A blend of Farce and Tragedy.
  • Fat Bastard: Montfleury, according to Cyrano.
  • Fatal Flaw: Vanity, as Cyrano admits in his final scene.
  • A Father to His Men: Carbon de Castel-Jaloux. He calls his men "my sons" in Act IV.
  • Fetch Quest: The Pickpocket sends Christian to various taverns to leave Ligniere a note in each of them about the plot against his life.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Cyrano and Christian’s friendship is not born because they fight against the same enemy, but because they are courting The Ace Roxane, from whose rejection both of them are terribly afraid and must gather all their courage only to face her.
  • Flowery Insults: De Valvert tries to insult Cyrano, but all he can say is: "Sir, your nose is... hmm... it is... very big!" Cyrano berates him for being unimaginative, and gives examples of better insults in many different styles.
  • Foil: de Guiche for Cyrano, as outlined in his speech comparing the two of them in Act V.
  • Freudian Excuse: In Act V Scene VI, we learn the reason why Cyrano could never believe the obvious fact that Roxane could love him back and why he insisted on being a Love Martyr.
    Cyrano: Never on me had rested woman's love.
    My mother even could not find me fair:
    I had no sister; and, when grown a man,
    I feared the mistress who would mock at me.
  • Gag Nose: Cyrano's most prominent feature and the overall crux of the plot, for the play would end very quickly if he didn't have this.
  • Gay Paree
  • Genius Bruiser: Cyrano.
  • Gentleman Snarker: Again, Cyrano. (Noticing a pattern here?)
  • Giftedly Bad: Montfleury thinks he is a dramatic actor capable of romancing the ladies. Everyone else (except maybe his protector the Duke of Candale) disagrees.
  • The Ghost: Cardinal Richelieu, the most powerful man in France.
  • Glove Slap: Invoked by Christian and Cyrano, but neither of them plays it straight.
  • The Grotesque: Cyrano considers himself one even though all that's wrong with him is that he has a big nose.
  • HA HA HA—No: Cyrano invokes this trope in Act I Scene V when he considers the possibility that an ugly man could love, and De Guiche plays it straight in Act II Scene VII when he reveals that he was the man who hired a hundred men against a poet for a satiric poem.
  • Having a Gay Old Time: The use of the word "baiser" to mean "to kiss"; nowadays, it means something a bit stronger...
  • Heartbroken Badass: Cyrano, after Act II Scene VI.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation: Cyrano is his own harshest critic.
  • Hero-Worshipper: Ragueneau has shades of this, to Cyrano.
  • Heterosexual Life-Partners: Best friends Le Bret and Cyrano.
  • Hidden Depths:
    • Roxane the refined intellectual surprises her three suitors by proving quite the adventuress, sneaking behind enemy lines to deliver food to the French soldiers and then staying with them once the battle starts.
    • Christian gets written off by many who haven't read the play as a male bimbo. While he's not as book smart as Cyrano or Roxane and is utterly hopeless at talking to women, he's witty enough to think of several nose-related puns on the fly when he first meets Cyrano.
    • Given Ragueneau’s status as the Butt-Monkey in Act II, he could be considered a mere Plucky Comic Relief character. Then we have Act IV where Raguenau risks his life to smuggle food to the Gascon Cadets in the siege of Arras.
  • Historical Ugliness Update: Look at this contemporary portrait at the other Wiki. Portraits of Cyrano suggest that he did have a big nose, true, though not nearly as large to justify to an audience all the fuss Cyrano makes about it. So, this Historical Domain Character must look much worse in theater/movies than he actually did in real life for the play to make sense. Just compare the portrait with those images of Cyrano’s depiction in theater and movies.
  • Homosocial Heterosexuality: The play is more about Cyrano and Christian than it is about poor Roxanne. They come to care far more genuinely for each other than either do for her. Practically Cyrano's last words to her are to beg that she keep on loving Christian's memory and grieving for him.
    • When you take into account the historical Cyrano was pretty open about his bisexuality, and that his favorite joke was that as he was ashamed of it he had to hide behind another man…
  • Hope Spot: Cyrano has two in his hope for winning Roxane’s love. His first Hope Spot lasts a night (between Acts I and II) until he hears Roxane describe the guy she loves as "fair," and the other lasts only mere seconds, right before he hears that Christian has been mortally wounded.
  • Hurricane of Puns: The hurricane of nose puns that Christian applies to Cyrano's tale is all but funny because all the cadets anticipate Cyrano's response in silent horror. Cyrano usually doesn't tolerate ANYBODY mentioning noses around him, and only his promise to Roxane to protect Christian from the rest of the soldiers' attempts at hazing the new recruits keeps him from starting a fight.
  • Humiliation Conga: Cyrano puts Valvert through one and de Guiche through many, Roxane puts Christian through one and the last four acts are a long Humiliation Conga for Cyrano. The fact that he retains a measure of his characteristic "panache" despite the situation reveals just how deep his moxie goes.
  • I Can't Believe A Girl Like You Would Notice Me: Cyrano is a self-loathing Jerkass Woobie who fails to notice any of his own redeeming qualities. He cannot believe smart and beautiful Roxane will ever love him.
  • I Kiss Your Hand: Cyrano kisses the Buffet-Girl's hand after she offers him free food.
  • I'll Never Tell You What I'm Telling You!: Amazingly Played for Drama when Roxane, after fourteen years, at last realizes that Cyrano was Playing Cyrano:
    Cyrano: I loved you not.
    Roxane: You loved me not?
    Cyrano: 'Twas he!
    Roxane: You loved me!
    Cyrano: No!
    Roxane: See! how you falter now!
    Cyrano: No, my sweet love, I never loved you!
  • Impossible Task: Cyrano claims that fate has decreed that he, being The Grotesque because of his large nose, must love the most beautiful woman there is.
  • Idiot Hero: The ideal of a Gascon Cadet — You can do anything stupid as long as it's heroic enough.
  • Impoverished Patrician: Christian and all the Gascon cadets except de Guiche.
  • Informed Attractiveness: Roxanne.
  • Insecure Love Interest: Cyrano feels that, due to his large nose, he is unworthy of Roxane, whom he is very much attrcted to.
  • Insult Backfire: Viscount de Valvert calls Cyrano an Impoverished Patrician and poet. He doesn’t mind at all.
  • Insult Misfire: In Act I Scene IV, Cyrano manages to misfire the insult to the same person who uttered it:
    Viscount de Valvert: Base scoundrel! Rascally flat-footed lout!
    Cyrano: [taking off his hat, and bowing as if the viscount had introduced himself] Ah? And I, Cyrano Savinien
    Hercule de Bergerac.
  • In the Blood: When Cyrano reacts with shock at Roxane's intention to remain with them during the battle, she responds, "Monsieur de Bergerac, I am your cousin."
  • It's All My Fault: Roxane says this in Act V. She's wrong, this mess is all Cyrano's.
  • I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Cyrano. Later, Christian.
  • Jerkass: This play deconstructs this trope, as a matter of fact; it's easier to mention the people who don't act like a jerkass to someone, sometime in the play. note 
  • Jerk Justifications: Cyrano has Type I, II and II, de Guiche and Raguenaeau have Type II.
  • Kick the Dog: De Guiche finally loses his cool after Cyrano insults him one too many times. Since they're at the front lines, he promptly sends a signal which ensures that in about an hour Cyrano and his men will be attacked by quite a lot of the Spanish army.
  • Kidnapped by the Call: De Guiche really, really didn't want to risk his life fighting the best part of the Spanish garrison ( along with the Cadets, to boot ). However, since Roxanne won't leave the frontline, his gentlemanly instincts force him to stay and defend her. Roxanne, who assumed him to be a Dirty Coward and told him so to his face, is quite surprised.
  • Kissing Cousins: Cyrano is in love with his cousin Roxane, but she can only see him as a brother.
  • Lame Comeback: Immediately jumped on by Cyrano as an opportunity to mock the guy in the Flowery Insults scene.
  • Large Ham: Depardieu as Cyrano in The Film of the Play.
  • The Last DJ: Cyrano dares to refuse Cardinal Richelieu's patronage as a playwright because Richelieu could alter his lines.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: This play is a blend of farce and drama, and his first act is placed at the Burgundy Theater. Cyrano has interrumpted the Show Within a Show La Clorise. The rest of the theater actors are rehearsing a new play, and Cyrano invites them to look at a Sword Fight he will have with one hundred men. It Makes Sense in Context, but it still feels as though Cyrano is talking about his own play.
  • Leave the Two Lovebirds Alone: Cyrano invokes this trope when Roxane and her Duenna met him at the bakery of the poets (Roxane's Duenna is supposed to be her chaperone). Cyrano bribes the Duenna with pastries and ask her to eat them in the street, so he can have some privacy with Roxane.
  • Let Them Die Happy: Cyrano tells Christian that Roxane chose to love him.
  • Like Brother and Sister: Roxane breaks Cyrano's heart with this speech (with a chaser of Just Friends) in Act II Act II Scene VI.
  • Longing Look: Montfleury gives one of these to Roxane; this is the true cause of Cyrano’s grudge against him.
  • Long List: Act I Scene IV: Cyrano improvises twenty better insults that "Your nose is very big" about his own nose.
    • The number of taverns Christian needs to visit to leave a note to Ligniere warning about the plot against him.
    • The number of enemies (not counting the ladies) that Cyrano has made at the Burgundy Theater.
  • Love at First Sight: Deconstructed, as Roxane tells Cyrano she fell in love with Christian this way, and his response amounts to, "Are you nuts?! You don't even know a single thing about the guy, and you're in love with him?!" (When he meets Christian, however, he admits he can't blame her, as he is good-looking, and proves to be as brave as the stories about him say, Cyrano also notes the boy is not without wit). Roxane later apologizes to Christian, saying it was wrong of her to fall for him purely for his appearance and that she's learned to love him for his soul (right lesson, wrong guy!).
  • Love Hurts
  • Love Letter Lunacy
  • Loves My Alter Ego
  • Manly Tears: Cyrano insists in Act I that he never cries, but in Act IV, Christian notices a tear drop on his most recent love letter to Roxane.
  • Master of Delusion: Cyrano cannot conceive that any woman, even an ugly one, could love him. Roxane ignores any proof Christian is not eloquent or that Cyrano loves her, De Guiche cannot conceive that Roxane could reject him. Christian is the only one capable of facing the truth.
  • Martyrdom Culture: All the Gascons sincerely believe that dying for one's beliefs is the only truly worthwhile thing one can do with one's life.
  • Martyr Without a Cause: Cyrano, and Le Bret continuously scolds him about this attitude.
  • Meaningful Rename: Cyrano's cousin was named Madeleine Robin, but as a member of Les Précieuses, she took a new name in order to reflect the change in their role in life. "Roxane" is an Iranian Name (Roshanak) that means "Little Star" and was the name of princess Roxane, who married Alexander the Great. "Roxane was said by contemporaries to be the most beautiful lady in all Asia". Truth in Television, because the Real Life Madeleine Robin chose this name.
  • Miles Gloriosus: The Musketter is identified as this by Raguenau, who doesn't seem to realize that he is his wife's lover.
  • Minor Flaw, Major Breakup: Roxane's requirement that her guy prove how special she is to him via poetic genius.
  • Mood Dissonance: In Act II Scene VI, Cyrano's heart is broken when Roxane confesses to him that she is in love with Christian. Then the Duenna interrupts Cyrano and Roxane telling him she has eaten all the pies Cyrano give them. He comically sends her to read poems and closes the door in her face. The last four acts of this play have funny things and tragic things happening one after the other.
  • Mood Whiplash: Given this play is a blend between Farce and Tragedy, there first three acts are more of a comedy with some dramatic elements, and the two last acts are more of a drama with comedic elements, but in all acts the contrasting elements resonate against each other.
  • Motifs: Hunger and food (desire and satisfaction).
  • Naïve Newcomer: At Act I, Christian has scarcely been twenty days in Paris and begs Ligniere to introduce him to Roxane. He also will join the Guards in the Cadets the next day.
  • New Meat: Christian obviously lacks combat experience and is bullied by the rest of the cadets. Fortunately for him, Cyrano helps him to be accepted after Christian demonstrates his valor by bullying Cyrano with a cool Hurricane of Puns.
  • Not a Mask: In Act I Scene II, Cyrano is described by one of his friends, Raguenau, as someone who has a nose so incredible, that everyone think it's a joke and he will take his mask off, but Cyrano will always keep it on.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome: The Porte de Nesles fight, when Cyrano fights against one hundred thugs.
  • One-Man Army: Between Acts I and II, Cyrano stands against one hundred men and kills eight of them. Between Acts IV and V, he manages to survive the Last Stand of only one company of Gascon cadets against all the Spanish Army.
  • Outdated Outfit: The marquises notice Christian is wearing one, signifying his status as another Impoverished Patrician who is a Naïve Newcomer to Paris.
    • Cyrano also sports a ruff and disparages the newer fashion of collars
  • Overly Long Name: lampshaded in Act IV, Scene VI:
    Carbon: It is perchance more seemly, since things are thus, that I present to you some of these gentlemen who are about to have the honour of dying before your eyes.
    Baron de Peyrescous de Colignac!
    The Cadet: Madame...
    Carbon: [continuing] Baron de Casterac de Cahuzac, Vidame de Malgouyre Estressac Lesbas d'Escarabiot, Chevalier d'Antignac-Juzet, Baron Hillot de Blagnac, Salechan de Castel Crabioules...
    Roxane: But how many names have you each?
    Baron Hillot: Scores! ["Des foules!"]
  • Paralyzing Fear of Sexuality: Cyrano confesses to Le Bret that the only thing he fears in the world is that Roxane will laugh at him when he confesses his love for her.
  • Perpetual Poverty: Cyrano, due to always indulging in Conspicuous Consumption combined with A Fool and His New Money Are Soon Parted.
  • Pinocchio Nose: Alluded to by Cyrano after he has fought one hundred men.
    Ragueneau: Have you been in some danger?
    Cyrano: None in the world.
    Lise: [shaking her finger at him] Methinks you speak not the truth in saying that!
    Cyrano: Did you see my nose quiver when I spoke? 'Faith, it must have been a
    monstrous lie that should move it!
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Invoked by Cyrano's improvised poem The Bold Cadets of Gascony, where he describes the life of a Gascon Cadet as nothing more than brawling, swaggering, hiding they are poor, getting badass sobriquets, chasing married women, and intimidating their husbands.
  • Playing Cyrano: The Trope Namer and Trope Maker.
  • Poirot Speak: Ragueneau hears only a few words spoken in Gascon dialect and realizes that the Cadets are a regiment composed by Gascons. Notice those are the only Gascon words in the play (apart from some in Act IV) because the Gascon Cadets all talk in Surprisingly Good French.
  • Practical Joke: The Pages in the upper gallery pull up a Burgher's wig on the end of a string.
  • Professional Butt-Kisser: Cyrano discusses this trope with Le Bret and vows to defy it.
  • Protection from Editors: In-Universe: The real reason behind Cyrano's rejection of patronage.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy meets Truth in Television: For centuries, the Gascons have had this reputation among the French.
  • Purple Prose: In the Show Within a Show La Clorise.
  • Reality Is Unrealistic: Some of the things the real historical Cyrano supposedly did were not included in the story because they stretch suspension of disbelief too far.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Cyrano can distribute these in verses form to people he hates or people who stand in his way like candies, usually leaving them dumbfounded.
  • Renaissance Man: Cyrano (both in the play and in Real Life).
  • Reverse Psychology: Roxane and Christian fake an Arranged Marriage to trick a friar into marrying them.
  • Romantic False Lead: Christian.
  • Run or Die: Montfleury makes his choice in Act I Scene IV after Cyrano claps a third time: he runs for his life. Later, The Bore also makes his choice, after Cyrano literally kicks his ass. It was the correct choice for both of them.
  • Samaritan Syndrome: Christian wishes to have time to defy The Rival to a duel and woo his Love Interest, but he has to save a life!
  • Secretly Dying: Cyrano, due to a...
  • Secret Stab Wound: His head injury in the final scene.
  • Selective Obliviousness: Cyrano fails to notice that the buffet-girl is a Smitten Teenage Girl with him. He is so convinced he cannot be loved, that Le Bret must point this out to him.
  • Self-Deprecation: After a man tries to insult Cyrano and tells him that his nose is "very big", he gives a Long List of better insults in various styles. However, he makes it clear that he wouldn't take such insults from anyone but himself.
  • Side Bet: Cyrano has threatened to punish Montfleury if he acts in La Clorise. Raguenau and the first Marquis bet a fowl "a la Raguenau" over if he will fulfill his threat or not.
  • A Simple Plan: Being a Farce, this play has enough simple plans to qualify for a Gambit Pileup, and, obviously, none of them work.
  • Shaped Like Itself: Act I Scene VII, just before Cyrano will fight against one hundred men, he combines this trope with a Badass Boast:
    Cyrano: ... And, shortly, you shall see what you shall see!
  • Shout-Out:
    • After Cyrano fights a duel while improvising a poem early in the play, d'Artagnan (also a Gascon) shows up briefly to tell him how cool it was. In real life they were contemporaries — it would be surprising if Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655) and d'Artagnan (1615-1673) had not run into each other quite a bit.
    • In Act I Scene VII: Theophrast Reunadet (talented creator of the first newspaper, famous philanthropist who died in poverty) shows up briefly only to be dismissed by Cyrano ("Who cares?"). Renaudet was homely, and this affected him throughout his life (the real Cyrano seemed not so affected by this).
    • Also to Titus and Berenice and Caesar and Cleopatra, two of the most famous romances in history, The Adventures of Pinocchio, and Don Quixote.
    • In Act III Scene XIII, the rambling of Cyrano pretending he just fell from the Moon to distract De Guiche are a direct reference to The Other World: Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon, a proto sci-fi novel written by the historical Cyrano.
  • Smitten Teenage Girl: Cyrano picks up one in the theater.
  • Small Name, Big Ego: Cyrano accuses Cardinal Richelieu of this when he dismisses the idea of him being bothered by the interruption of La Clorise.
  • Socially Awkward Hero: Cyrano, in his own way. He can fight off a hundred men easily enough, but he doesn't have the courage to explain his feelings to the woman he loves.
  • Spell My Name with an S: Roxane is known as "Roxana" in the Anthony Burgess version.
  • Stalker with a Crush: de Guiche for Roxane, despite that he is already married.
  • Starving Artist: From Act I through Act V (that’s fifteen years), Cyrano’s friends constantly comment on how he rarely eats well. It's not that Cyrano is a bad artist; it's just that he writes satiric letters denouncing false people–- namely, everyone.
  • Stepford Smiler: Cyrano is a Type A, obsessed with not projecting an image of sadness in order to be accepted by his peers.
  • Stylistic Suck: Ragueneau's theme for a poem is a recipe in verse.
  • Supreme Chef: Ragueneau
  • Sword Fight: In Act I Scene IV, Cyrano and Viscount de Valvert engage in one and Cyrano wins. In Act V Scene VI, Cyrano raves about another Sword Fight with all his enemies (Falsehood, Treachery, Compromise, Prejudice, Folly and Death itself), a combat that Cyrano know he has already lost.
  • Sympathy for the Hero: De Guiche comes to admire Cyrano and his moral courage.
  • Take Our Word for It: Between acts, Cyrano fights (and defeats!) one hundred thugs, saves Raguenau’s life doing an Interrupted Suicide, manages to write love letters beautiful enough to make Roxane fall more madly in love with Christian, and to pick De Guiche’s scarf from the battlefield.
  • Take That!: Cyrano and his troops are enemies of musketeers, who are presented as lecherous thugs whose courage doesn't match their boastfulness and who don’t pay their theatre tickets. Something of this can also possibly be seen toward the famous playwright Molière (in part because, as mentioned in the play, his play Scapin was plagiarized from Cyrano). Roxane is one of the Précieuses ridiculed by Molière but is a fairly level-headed, sympathetic character. Ragueneau kind of fits the model of Molière's cuckolded characters and idolizes him, but when he finally gets a job with him, realizes his idol is an example of Nice Character, Mean Actor. Fictional Cyrano accuses Sercy, (the historical editor of the historical Cyrano’s books) of practicing Vanity Publishing, implying that the historical Cyrano indulged in this practice.
  • Taking the Veil: Roxane, after she's widowed, retires to a convent.
  • The Power of Legacy: When Christian dies before Cyrano can reveal his secret to Roxanne, Cyrano lets her keep believing Christian was the poet she thought he was (until Cyrano himself is mortally wounded and she figures out the truth)
  • Think Nothing of It: Cyrano does not claim the credit for the victory over one hundred thugs; he even denies being the hero. Then subverted as Roxane, the only person he cares about, really thinks nothing of his victory.
  • Throwing Down the Gauntlet
  • True Beauty Is on the Inside: Cyrano is too cynical to believe people actually believe this. Nevertheless, he invokes this trope at Act I Scene IV when Viscount de Valvert mocks his poor clothes:
    Cyrano: True; all my elegances are within.
  • Two-Person Love Triangle: Roxane and Cyrano have become this by the end.
  • The Uriah Gambit: de Guiche tries to orchestrate one for Christian.
  • Vanity Publishing: In-Universe: Cyrano discuss this trope with Le Bret, claiming that he will not pay an editor named Sercy to print his verses.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: A strange case, combined with a subverted Roman à Clef where the names did not change, according to this wiki about the play.
  • Volleying Insults: Viscount de Valvert and Cyrano engage in this in Act I Scene IV.
  • Warrior Poet: Cyrano again.
  • The Watson: Le Bret. In half of his dialogue with Cyrano, he asks Cyrano the same questions the audience must be asking (ex. "Why in hell did you something so jerkish/stupid/selfdestructive?"), and Cyrano explains what's going on.
  • Well, Excuse Me, Princess!: Roxane's requirement that her guy prove how special she is to him via poetic genius is reminiscent of this.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Does Viscount de Valvert survive his Sword Fight with Cyrano in Act I Scene IV or not? The last we see of him is that his friends carry him offstage after his defeat.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Nice job ruining three lives Cyrano.
  • When She Smiles: Joked as the reason Roxane made it past enemy lines.
    Carbon: True, that smile is a passport!
  • Worth It: Cyrano spends his entire month's salary to humiliate Montfleurry.
    Le Bret: "What folly!"
    Cyrano: "But what a gesture."
  • Wouldn't Hit a Girl/Show Some Leg: Shows up in Roxane's journey past enemy Spaniards to join her husband.
  • Writers Suck: Viscount de Valvert shows his contempt for poets by calling Cyrano one of them.
  • Wrong Insult Offence: Cyrano had a very large nose, which a bit character insulted by calling it "rather large." Cyrano's reaction was to tell him that "rather large" was an absolutely pathetic excuse for an insult and go on to tell him various better ways to insult him.
  • You Fight Like a Cow: Cyrano composes a ballad in honor of Viscount de Valvert while they have a Sword Fight. Valvert is too busy fighting for his life to answer a word.


Video Example(s):


"'Rather large', you say?"

"Cyranose". In this adaptation of Cyrano de Bergerac's famous "how to insult my nose" scene, Wishbone, playing Cyrano, takes offense at the bit character's lack of creativity in insulting his outsize schnoz and suggests several alternate ways to do it.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (7 votes)

Example of:

Main / WrongInsultOffence

Media sources: