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Themes

Cyrano de Bergerac is steeped in the history and culture of seventeenth century France. Though the playwright lived more than 200 years after this era, he goes to great pains to make it as faithful to the time as possible. His text is littered with references to real historical figures, artists, thinkers, philosophers, teachers, actors, and writers. The play both honors and mocks the frippery of the French court in his constant allusions to The Three Musketeers, the most famous novel written about this time period.

Questions About Art and Culture

  1. What is the effect of the cultural and historical allusions in Cyrano de Bergerac? How does it affect the way we view the play?
  2. Does Rostand uphold or mock French ideals in his Three Musketeers allusions? Could it be possible that he’s doing both, or does that just sound like crazy-talk?
  3. What literary or historical figures is Cyrano compared to? How does this shape how we view his character?

Chew on This

Try on an opinion or two, start a debate, or play the devil’s advocate.

In depicting Cyrano as a hero and Christian as a martyr, Rostand ultimately approves of and honors the ideals of seventeenth century France in his play.

In depicting Comte de Guiche as vengeful and the minor characters as vain, Rostand mocks the ideals of seventeenth century France.

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