Cyrano De Bergerac Study Guide
ACT 1, A Performance at the Hotel de Bourgogne
Act I, Scene I
burghers – middle-class citizens (bourgeois); merchants
falsetto – a high-pitched male voice
foils – fencing swords
lackeys – low-level servants
marquises – noblemen who rank one below the ranking of a duke
pages – messenger servants
proscenium – an area of a theater between the orchestra and the curtain
troopers – soldiers on horseback; cavalrymen
1. List two ways that Rostand lets the audience know that the play is set in 1640.
2. What do the two Musketeers, the First Lackey, and the Guardsman all have in common? What do you think Rostand is saying about life in
at this point in history? France
Act I, Scene II
candelabra – a candle holder that holds several candles at once; a chandelier with candles
coquettish – flirtatious
duenna – a governess; chaperone
triolet – a type of poem containing eight lines in each stanza, with the first line repeated as the fourth and seventh lines and the second line repeated as the eighth line
1. What does the following passage from the play tell the audience about Christian? What does it reveal about the importance of personal appearances to important men such as the First Marquis?
FIRST MARQUIS: [to the SECOND] He’s good-looking, but his fashion is a little out of date.
LIGNIERE: [to CUIGY] Monsieur de Neuvillette comes from
2. Why does Christian insist that Ligniere remain at the theater? What is Ligniere’s profession, and why does he decide to stay instead of going to a nearby tavern?
3. Briefly identify Ragueneau. Why does he attend the play?
4. List five characteristics that Le Bret, Cuigy, and Ragueneau use to describe Cyrano. How does Cyrano react to anyone who “smiles” at the sight of his large nose?
5. Find an adjective in Scene II to describe De Guiche’s character. Why does De Guiche want Roxane to marry Monsieur de Valvert?
Act I, Scene III
incredulously – skeptically; in disbelief
obsequious – submissive, fawning
pastoral – pertaining to the pleasant country life; rural
viscount – a nobleman whose rank is one below that of an earl
1. Why does the pickpocket warn Christian that Ligniere’s life is in danger?
2. What evidence is there that Christian is or is not an honorable man?
3. How does the Cardinal’s presence alter the mood of the audience?
Act I, Scene IV
affable – pleasant, friendly
conch – a type of large shell
envoi – a short passage at the end of a poem
farce – a comedic play containing much slapstick and a far-fetched plot
parry – to deflect; to sidestep
pedantic – excessively wordy in a pretentious way
scabbard – a case for a sword
tragedian – an actor who plays tragic characters
1. What are some conflicts that arise after Cyrano appears?
2. Identify the following literary terms, which Cyrano exclaims while on stage:
a. “[…] I’ll cut off his ears and slit him up like a roasted pig!”
b. “I shall mount the stage now and carve up this fine, fat Italian sausage!”
c. “If you keep on, you’re liable to rouse my sword right out of its scabbard!”
3. Explain why the crowd is amused when Cyrano says, “I will clap my hands three times, you full moon! On the third clap, I want to see you eclipse yourself!”
4. Why does Cyrano hate Montfleury?
5. Cyrano’s removal of Montfleury and cancellation of the play is outrageous, even dangerous. Cyrano gives Jodelet a purse of money in order to refund the audience. State a theme for this play based on this grand gesture.
6. The audience first learns about Cyrano from his friends. Then they hear his voice.
Finally, Cyrano appears on stage. Why do you suppose Rostand structures the play so that the audience is fully prepared for Cyrano’s entrance?
7. Why does Cyrano list for Valvert the various ways that a man might insult his huge nose? What is Valvert’s reaction to this speech?
8. What adornments or decorations does Cyrano consider to be of more importance than gloves, ribbons, or lace?
9. Why do you suppose Cyrano decides to compose a ballad while he is dueling with Valvert? What does Cyrano plan to do just as he finishes reciting the refrain?
10. What evidence is there that the audience’s opinion of Cyrano changes after he duels with Valvert?
Act I, Scene V
protuberance – something that projects outward; a lump or bulge
sublime – inspiring; of the highest moral worth
1. How does Cyrano explain to Le Bret his reasons for making so many enemies?
2. What is Cyrano’s secret reason for banishing Montfleury from the stage? What simile does Cyrano use?
3. How does Le Bret argue that woman may find Cyrano attractive despite his large nose?
4. What is the one thing in life that Cyrano fears?
Act I, Scene VI
1. What does Cyrano’s reaction to the Duenna reveal about his thoughts?
Act I, Scene VII
nebulous – hazy, vague, unclear
1. What new aspect of Cyrano’s personality is revealed after Cyrano learns that Roxane wants to see him?
2. Cyrano states that he is willing to fight a hundred men to save Ligniere because Ligniere once drank holy water as a romantic gesture for a young lady. What other reason might Cyrano have for fighting one hundred men?
3. “Willing Suspension of Disbelief” is a term for the willingness of the audience to accept the behavior and motivations of the characters for the duration of the play. At the end of Act I, Cyrano bravely goes off to fight one hundred men. Do you believe that Cyrano’s actions are believable or unbelievable? Cite incidents from the story to support your answer.