The Beauty Behind Cyrano


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"Love" connection between an excerpt from de Botton and the theater piece, "Cyrano de Bergerac" by Edmond Rostand.

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The Beauty Behind Cyrano

  1. 1. Savannah Block Pre-College English Hour 2 February 27, 2008 The Beauty behind Cyrano From beginning to end, de Botton's tale of love volleys between two very distinct types of the drug: Platonic and Kantian. Similarly, Edmond Rostands, Cyrano de Bergerac confabulates of the same sorts of amour, running its course through one sample of “love bug,” and heading right for the other. Rostand and de Botton's stories generate the pondering of what classification of adoration conquers? In de Bergerac, the play's protagonist is constantly thinking himself inadequate compared the one he loves, Roxane. Although he shows his charming qualities through kissing the orange girl's hand after she gives him some food, Cyrano still finds his protruding nose hindering his ability to make a move on his cousin (38). Cyrano discusses his lack of game to Le Bret, “My old friend – look at me, and tell me how much hope remains for me with this protuberance” (41). Self pity he holds for himself is revisited often, “I dream and forget, then see the shadow of my profile on the wall! Knowing myself so ugly, so alone” (41). How imperfect Cyrano holds himself to portray is exactly the point de Botton explains in Beauty. “She insisted on finding her nose too small, her mouth too wide, her feet too large” (87). Chloe held herself to this high 'media' inspired mentality of 'beautiful,' and she failed to achieve said altitudinous standing (87). Here, de Botton is demonstrating a Platonic view of love. Plato would see the covers of magazines and “would have suggested [these were] approximations of ideal beauty” (88). These Platonic angles took the form of Roxane in the earlier stages of Cyrano. Madeleine Robin was much more attuned to Christian's ravishing looks, by falling in love with the man with just one passing glance. “Such a man! He is proud-noble-young-brave-beautiful” (63). De Bergerac struggles to show Roxane that one cannot blindly follow looks, “The man may be a savage or a fool” (63), in
  2. 2. which Roxane retorts, “His curls are like a hero from D'Urfe” (63). She would much rather fancy a man with dashing looks than one that steals her heart from within. Soon enough, words start to represent much more than they used to in the world of Madeleine Robin, and all too quickly, looks are not enough. Christian, without fear, confesses to Roxane his love for her through his own words, yet all the bloke can choke out is “I love you” (101). His lover grows irritated, claiming “I ask for cream, and you give me milk and water” (102). Roxane also states that the fact that Christian cannot dream up a pretty poem is almost equal to the disdain she has for ugliness (102.) Once Cyrano takes over for the poetry of Christian, Roxane finds his speech attractive, more so than when Christian attempted to win her heart with too simple words. “Yes, I do tremble...and I weep...and I love you...and I am yours...and you have made me thus” (110). Roxane's quote amplifies her appreciation for the art of Cyrano's words, rather than only the beauty of Christian. Finally, Roxane comes to her senses; she can love 'Christian' for his words while he writes letters to her from the battlefield. She cares for him so deeply that if he would look ugly, it would not bother her one bit, “It is your self I love now: your own self. [If you were] less charming – ugly, even, I should love you still” (161-162). Although through the dramatic irony, the audience knows Cyrano's true identity, the one as Roxane's secret admirer, she discovers the true author of the letters. “You shall not die! I love you!” Madeleine Robin shouts, clinging onto the love of her life as he shares his last breaths with her (192). De Botton mirrors this emotional overturn of a new leaf as he discusses Kantian views on love. Roxane could not have convinced anyone of the beauty she believed Cyrano to posses at the end of de Bergerac, a topic de Botton answers in Beauty, “It is not some formula leading to an incontestable conclusion” (89). As Roxane uncovered the charm of 'Christian's' poems, she brings her personal love for poetry into the equation. These biases affects the outcome of her love to Cyrano, resembling de Botton's Kantian type of love. According to de Botton, a Platonic beauty is far easier to love than Kantian; one does not need to search for beauty when one possesses Platonic looks. “Beauty was to be found in oscillation between ugly and classical beauty” (92). Since one with Platonic beauty does not
  3. 3. have flaws their beauty, in de Botton's eyes, are boring. “Nothing can be beautiful that does not take a calculated risk with ugliness” (92). Roxane definitely discovered this to be true while dealing with Christian's lack of poetic expression. As stated above, she grew tired of his non-imagination, as one would grow tired of one with Platonic looks. Roxane did not see beauty in Cyrano straight away, she had to fix her point of view in order to see what beauty lied within him. De Botton explains in Beauty that the “eye sees what it wants to see” (93). He uses Wittgenstien's duck and rabbit illusion as an example. “When you want to see a duck, you will find the duck. If you want to see the rabbit, you will also see that. Both are combined in this one picture” (94). This, however, is not the same for Platonic love. Platonic love is final, as final as the good looks Christian owns. When Roxane's eye is trained on Cyrano, her thoughts change. His inner beauty shines, giving him the attractiveness Roxane could not see right away. Through de Botton's two heavily exampled classifications of amour, the question still remains: which love conquers? In the case of Cyrano de Bergerac, Platonic dominates the majority of the beginning and middle of the play. However, the winning contender is, no doubt, Kantian.
  4. 4. Savannah Block Pre-College English Hour 2 February 27, 2008 Thoughts on Beauty Kantian love is definitely the way to live. In order to explain my thoughts, I must divulge my innermost secrets of men that I have fancied in the past and present. Personally, with one of the men I happen to enjoy the company of, has a pull on me. At first, there were his looks, although others did not see him in the same light as I did. My friends question me repeatedly, “How could you ever find him attractive?” Much like de Botton, I realized my powers to convince my pals of his beauty were futile, though there is something about his person in particular that instilled this drunken love frenzy inside of me. His walk is odd, almost bowlegged, as he sways back and fourth, but by far the most interesting part of his anatomy, in my opinion, would be his face. Although it is definitely not in proportion, his face flows well in my eyes. Ironically, his nose is among the numerous topics my friends and I discuss each and every day as we enjoy our lunches. As time passed, I soon found out that this young man was not only brilliant, but could draw and even speak my second language very well! Everyone who has experienced a relationship remembers their partners quirks, or little actions that, although weird, they loved them for who they were. I believe such oddities do not exist in a Platonic love, and in my world, would forever be longing to enjoy. Kantian love is subjective, but most importantly, makes one's relationship much more fun and fulfilling. My thought process lies within laughing at something stupid that I have or my partner has done, rather than soulless chitchat with Robert Pattinson. Perfect beauty is not, under any circumstance, better than odd beauty. Odd beauty should be cherished, and I do cherish odd beauty without question.