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Based upon a real, historical personage, Cyrano de Bergerac is the protagonist and hero of the play. Although he dominates the action, appearing in almost every scene, he is a relatively flat character, for he changes little within the play. He is noble in the beginning and dies a noble death at the end. In the first act, Rostand presents Cyrano by having others talk about him before he makes his appearance. They almost seem to be in awe of the main character.
After the play opens, Ragueneau and Le Bret discuss Cyrano, worrying that he will cause some public disturbance because Montfleury has decided to act upon the stage in spite of Cyrano's ban on his performance. It is clear that Cyrano has some degree of importance and power. However, when he first appears and stops Montfleury's performance, he appears as an almost irrational and strong-willed tyrant who enjoys terrorizing people through the power of his sword and who revels in antagonizing the rich and the powerful. As the play unfolds, it becomes clear that this is not the true Cyrano.
The real Cyrano is seen in his relationship to his beautiful cousin, Roxane. Although he loves her genuinely and deeply, he dares not confess his emotions to her because of his ugliness. His grotesque nose, which spreads across his face, makes him feel ashamed and self-conscious. Since he cannot love Roxane openly, he decides that he will express his emotions through Christian. When he learns that the handsome young man does not possess the ability to express his thoughts or feelings, Cyrano volunteers to do it for him. He does it so well that Roxane immediately falls in love with Christian, a deep love that lasts for fifteen years beyond his death.
Christian's death has a deep impact on Cyrano. Once Roxane's husband is killed, Cyrano knows he will never be able to tell her the truth about his love for her; neither will he be able to reveal the truth about the author of the love letters from Christian. He must let her continue to believe that her dead husband was the noble, witty, and passionate writer. No longer able to communicate his true feelings behind the mask of Christian, Cyrano must be content to make weekly visits to Roxane in the convent. It is obviously not enough to satisfy him. His condition deteriorates until he is poverty stricken and almost friendless.