The centre of universe of the supremely captivating play “Cyrano de Bergerac” by Edmond Rostand is the beautiful Roxane. She is loved and admired by several powerful characters of the time and she has a long list of suitors who want to win her over. She is apparently oblivious to the affections of several of her suitors but at the same time is worldly wise enough to keep unwarranted advances of several characters at bay with typical feminine instinct and cunning.
She is loved by the heroic of Cyrano but he rules himself unworthy of her as his appearance is hindered by an acutely large nose which lends an air of ugliness to him. She is also the object of affection of Christian who is handsome as handsome comes but not gifted with any of Cyrano’s strength of character or talents in arts. At heart, though he is one of the best human beings but not strong willed enough to do anything to advance anything he thinks is right.
He is helped by Cyrano in creating an image of a poetic, obsessive lover gifted with the deliquescence of a connoisseur. Roxane falls for this image and several intriguing instances lead her into marrying Christian in a haste, shortly after which he is sent to the battle field by another of her scornful lover De Guiche, who is also the commander of the French army and a powerful man of the time. Roxane, the romantic that she is insists on Christian writing her regularly form the war front and Cyrano risks his life to keep the promise.
At the war front when Christian slowly understands the strength of Cyrano’s feelings for Roxane and also gets a whiff of the suspicion that Roxane has fallen in love not with him for his beauty but the poetic, gentle and heroic image created by him, which is much closer to Cyrano in real life, he wants to unit the two lovers.
But as fate would have it, Roxane comes into the battlefield, enamored with the image of her ardent lover and a series of unfortunate incidents lead to Christian’s death and Cyrano’s decision that he will never be able to reveal his love or his true identity in Roxane-Christian love affair. The last act deals with Roxane learning the identity of her true love just before Cyrano dies after reading her last letter to her(which is in her possession as the last letter of Christiano)
In the beginning of the play, Roxane comes across as a regular beauty with some wit but an exceedingly kind heart and a large appetite for heroic morality. She manages well to thwart and deflect the attention of several of her suitors. She never lacks in friends, servants, attendants or admirers who would do her a favour or help her in any situation. As is usual with most girls of her age, she is enamoured with the glamour of youth and wants to be loved by the best looker – Christiano.
His looks prompts her to be ready for his advances. In fact, she arranges and accepts for a meeting where Christiano is given an opportunity to speak out his mind about love. But the initial hints of artistic tenderness and a craving for something more than mere physical beauty is evident when she gets upset with Christiano when he fails to articulate his feelings for her.
The moving expression of love for her by Cyrano in the darkness from below her balcony stirs her dormant feelings of intimacy and she offers to kiss him. There is a faint glimpse into her soul in these contrasting instances where mere handsomeness of Christiano fails to excite her but an artistic evoking of love and its description makes her desperate to kiss her lover.
In the initial stages of the play, this is purposely described as though she is a victim of the usual feminine vanity of falling for excessive praise. But this craving for something more than utterly physical comes out strongly when she is moved into risking her life to visit her (now) husband Christiano at the battlefront. For the first time, she gives expression to her belief that she is in love with the soul of Christiano and not his physical persona. The play is at a crucial juncture where some revelations can happen but the tight dramatization of Rostand makes it impossible neither for her to know the truth nor for Cyrano to reveal his love and his true identity as the creator of the soul that she is so deeply in love with.