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Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac

by Edmond Rostand

Language and Communication Theme

The ability to speak well is the hero’s primary quality in Cyrano de Bergerac. It is no coincidence that his other obvious talent is swordplay; although, it is noteworthy here that witty banter is often equated with dueling in this play, as characters slash at one another with words. Love is also defined largely by language and only seen as valid when accompanied by long, eloquent poetic descriptions. A simple "I love you" will not do in this play, but sonnets about Venus will make a woman melt.

Questions About Language and Communication

  1. In the openings of Acts I and II, check out how language and action are paired. We’re thinking this has something to do with more important scenes later. Right?
  2. Besides the obvious (Cyrano), which characters are quick-witted in this play? Is this a primarily positive trait in the story?
  3. There are places in the play where language seems the sole defining factor of a person’s identity. At other times, words are dismissed as shallow frippery. Which view does Cyrano de Bergerac promote?

Chew on This

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

To his death, Cyrano values his words above all else.

Despite his talent with words, Cyrano loses his faith in words when he is forced to speak through Christian; he comes to see language as a vehicle for deception and mere artifice.

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