Saturday, September 21, 2013

In Which I Do the Jake Equivalent of Fangirling, Over a Nineteenth Century Play

Yes, there are times where I (for lack of a better word) “fangirl”, although the objects of said fangirling tend to be old and the authors tend to be dead. (For some reason the word “fanboy” which certain friends of mine have tried to convince me to use, sounds simply odd and faintly creepy.)

The edition of the movie that I own.
In this case, I recently re-experienced the play “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand. I've read it several times before, but I reread it last week. Then, yesterday, I acquired (huzzah!) and watched the 1950 movie, which was almost as stunning.

You may be familiar with the play. If not, go read it now.

Because after rereading it, it placed Number Four on my list of greatest stories in the history of ever.

Let me explain. (The following and rather lengthy dissertation does contain some spoilers for the play. I'll try not to spoil major plot points, but for those who have not read the play, read on at your own risk.)

The reason why the play is so incredible is mostly because of the development of the main character, Cyrano de Bergerac, who has the curse of a proverbially large nose.

While the play starts out very slowly—the entire first scene is basically random actors running about in a theater and has little to nothing to do with the rest of the play except to introduce the setting and some of the characters—it gets interesting once the main character happens upon the theater.

The first time we're introduced to him, we get the feel for his character right away: first, that he's extremely brash and somewhat arrogant, and second, that he's extremely witty.

As the play goes on, however, we see more and more that this arrogance is an expression, not of conceit, but of his fierce independence. And if that independence makes others angry, then so much the better. As he says in the play,

“I pass, still unsaluted, joyfully,
And cry,—What, ho! another enemy?”

And, in reference to another publishing his play with the condition that it must be changed,

“Impossible! My blood congeals to think
That other hand should change a comma's dot.”

The other expression of his character is when he speaks to the woman he loves, Roxane. She confides in him that she loves another, which is a blow to him. Furthermore, she asks him to protect the man that he loves, to take the fellow under his wing, so to speak.

This is one of the strongest parts of the play: because he accepts. The nature of his love is unselfish, to where he puts her happiness above his. And when Roxane comments on a recent battle Cyrano fought, he replies that he had “fought better since” - the battle within himself to uphold her happiness at the cost of his.

This theme is reiterated again and again throughout the play, until the bitter end. But I won't spoil anything for you. It's hard and beautiful and moving. The poetry is brilliant and vivid and passionate.

Read it yourself and find out, people. The beginning is slow, but it's worth it.

(Return in a couple days for part two of this post. The combination of these two posts was too long for me to post all at once, so I put all of my favorite quotes in the second one rather than have one massive post for you to deal with.)


Catherine said...

Cyrano is one of my favorites, too. The characters, the dialogue, the themes, the bloodshed, the ending... gah! I'm also fangirling! Can't wait for the next post!

Squeaks said...

O.o well if Sir Jake of Sadaar deems this read a worthy one then I must see to it! (good thing it's free on Amazon!!) >:D

Sarah said...

Cyrano was amazing. Funny in parts, but with wonderful deep themes. I came close to tears at the end.

Hannah Joy said...

CYRANO DE BERGERAC!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

That is all. ;-)