Where It All Goes Down
Paris and Arras, France: 1640-1655
Rostand makes a point of both mocking and paying tribute to 17th-century France. The setting is, incidentally, the same historical setting that 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.
But he also makes fun of the time period, depicting some of the historical practices as ridiculous—for example, the whole slapping-a-glove-in-your-enemy’s-face thing. 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.