English 10 Honors
June 8th, 2012
Is Cyrano de Bergerac a tragic hero? Well, does he have any of Aristotle’s six characteristics? Aristotle’s characteristics consist of having a high social status, being imperfect, that the person’s downfall is his own fault, that his misfortune isn’t wholly deserved, the fall is not pure loss, and the tragedy doesn’t leave the audience in a state of depression (English 10 Honors Class Notes). What does Cyrano de Bergerac have in common with Don Quixote? Also, what do Cyrano de Bergerac and Don Quixote have in common with the song, “The Impossible Dream”. The characteristics are clear, but do Cyrano and Don Quixote meet the requirements, and do they live their life as an impossible dream?
The first requirement of being a tragic hero is having a high social status. Cyrano does in fact have a high social status. He has respect and fear among his fellow play goers. Ragueneau says, “Sir, have you seen Monsieur de Cyrano?” (Cyrano de Bergerac 15) Which infers that he is popular among his peers. His friends and also speak very high of him. As in fact, while Ragueneau is talking to Ligniere, he states highly of him:
“Marry, 'twould puzzle even our grim painter Philippe de Cham-paigne to portray him! Methinks, whimsical, wild, comical as he is, only Jacques Callot, now dead and gone, had succeeded better, and had made of him the maddest fighter of all his visored crew -- with his triple-plumed beaver and six-pointed doublet -- the sword-point sticking up 'neath his mantle like an insolent cocktail! He's prouder than all the fierce Artabans of whom Gascony has ever been and will ever be the prolific Alma Mater! Above his Toby ruff he carries a nose! -- ah, good my lords, what a nose is his! When one sees it one is fain to cry aloud, 'Nay! 'tis too much! He plays a joke on us!' Then one laughs, says 'He will anon take it off.' But no! -- Monsieur de Bergerac always keeps it on. (Cyrano de Bergerac 19-20)
Another characteristic that the hero must have, is that he must be imperfect. Cyrano is indeed physically unattractive. In Act 1, he teaches the Viscount how to joke on his nose.
Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short! You might have said at least a hundred things By varying the tone. . .like this, suppose,. . . Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had such a nose I'd amputate it!' Friendly: 'When you sup It must annoy you, dipping in your cup; You need a drinking-bowl of special shape!' Descriptive: ''Tis a rock!. . .a peak!. . .a cape! -- A cape, forsooth! 'Tis a peninsular!' Curious: 'How serves that oblong capsular? For scissor-sheath? Or pot to hold your ink?' Gracious: 'You love the little birds, I think? I see you've managed with a fond research To find their tiny claws a roomy perch!' Truculent: 'When you smoke your pipe. . .suppose That the tobacco-smoke spouts from your nose -- Do not the neighbors, as the fumes rise higher, Cry terror-struck: "The chimney is afire"?' Considerate: 'Take care,. . .your head bowed low By such a weight. . .lest head o'er heels you go!' Tender: 'Pray get a small umbrella made, Lest its bright color in the sun should fade!' Pedantic: 'That beast Aristophanes Names Hippocamelelephantoles Must have possessed just such a solid lump Of flesh and bone, beneath his forehead's bump!' Cavalier: 'The last fashion, friend, that hook? To hang your hat on? 'Tis a useful crook!' Emphatic: 'No wind, O majest-ic nose, Can give THEE cold! -- save when the mistral blows!' Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, what a Red Sea!' Admiring: 'Sign for a perfumery!' Lyric: 'Is this a conch?. . .a Triton you?' Simple: 'When is the monument on view?' Rustic: 'That thing a nose? Marry-come-up! 'Tis a dwarf pumpkin, or a prize turnip!' Military: 'Point against cavalry!' Practical: 'Put it in a lottery! Assuredly 'twould be the biggest prize!' Or. . .parodying Pyramus' sighs. . ....