Cyrano De Bergerac is a play by Edmond Rostand, with a number of movie adaptations. It is the story of Cyrano, a great wit, poet, swordsman and lover of life, but with a tragic flaw – an enormous nose. He considers himself too ugly to find love, yet he loves his distant cousin Roxanne. She considers him a great friend and confidante, while she falls in love with a very ordinary, yet handsome soldier, Christian. She asks Cyrano to protect the young soldier, which he reluctantly does. But first, Cyrano’s ode to his individualism and strength pointing to individuation. This is Eros in the sense that Jung wrote of it. Eros in this sense is much more than just love or sex. I’ll be writing of Eros vs logos a great deal since it is central in our lives and in our culture.
This speech stirs my soul. It expresses a great belief in following that soul one finds inside.
“Shall I use the fire God gave me to burn incense all day long?
No thank you!”
So Christian falls for the beautiful Roxnne, but she craves Eros – poetry, and Christian can only bring simple logos. He cannot connect with Roxanne and she spurns him until Cyrano reveals his heart to Roxanne, feeding Christian the lines as if they are his own. Roxanne falls in love with Cyrano, thinking he is Christian, by his poetry and Eros, expressed from the heart.
Go to 56:30 in the following video of the full movie, to find Christian determined to proclaim his love for Roxanne, stopped by Cyrano, who knows that his prosaic prose will reveal his shallowness to Roxanne. Christian stubbornly continues and fails as Cyrano knew he would. Christian pleads with Cyrano to help him and he reluctantly becomes involved, to infuse Christian’s words with the Eros of his own soul and goes on to speak to Roxanne in the darkness beneath her balcony so that she is unaware she is hearing Cyrano, and not Christian as she believes.
When Christian is floundering in expressing himself as Roxanne requires, she asks him to:
“Gather your dreams together into words.”
He cannot. Cyrano can and does. So should we all – as well as words can perform that task. Dreams are like art – they defy the attempts at logos, yet try we must. In an evolutionary romantic relationship, the woman coaxes and encourages the Eros lying within the man. Roxanne inspired Cyrano to bring his Eros to flower. Men crave that even if they are unaware.
The language is a treat throughout the play even though we are not hearing it in it’s native French.
Cyrano De Bergerac is one of the great characters of the stage, and the play or the movie is well worth seeing. The character of Roxanne is not that well developed, and in this version of the movie as well. One wonders what a man like Cyrano is attracted to in Roxanne. For me this is a minor detail since the play is about Cyrano and his internal struggles and passions. Roxanne is more a foil or simply a vital part of the plot rather than a fully formed character in her own right. True romantic relationships require two strong characters. The play is part of the long line of romantic tales that are so central to Western culture – the desire to transcend this earthly reality by finding “the one”. Romantic folly in some respects, but the Eros and passion are wonderful to behold. It’s a fun and exhilarating, yet tragic story.