Cyrano de Bergerac
by Edmond Rostand
Where It All Goes Down
Paris and Arras, France from 1640-1655 during the historical reign of King Louis XIII.
Rostand makes a point of both mocking and paying tribute to seventeenth century France. The setting is, incidentally, the same historical setting which Dumas used for The Three Musketeers. Rostand idealizes the chivalry of the time – the richness of court life, the heroism of the soldiers and musketeers, the romance between knights and beautiful noblewomen, and the beauty of romantic poetry.
Rostand also makes fun of the time period, depicting some of the historical practices as ridiculous – for example, the slapping-a-glove-in-your-enemy’s-face thing, and dueling. One way Rostand pokes fun at the historical conventions is by setting some scenes in places that feel frivolous or fake – like Act I, which is set before a ridiculous play, or Act II, which takes place in Ragueneau’s quaint pastry shop turned entertainment parlor for hungry poets. These light-hearted scenes set in carefree locales contrast sharply with later, more serious scenes set in somber places like the bleak battlefield of Arras, or the solemn convent during autumn.