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Cyrano de Bergerac

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Samrah Burney

on 12 June 2013

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Transcript of Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac By Deniz Ozgan and Samrah Burney Since the beginning of civilization, society has been ruled by a set of distinguishing factors, known to us as hierarchies, in which those of differing social standing are arranged into distinct social classes, most commonly categorized as; upper-class, middle-class, and lower-class. The play Cyrano de Bergerac- like most plays- is dominated by the ideals of the time corresponding to the setting of the play. Set in 1600’s France, Cyrano de Bergerac often explores and highlights moments in which society and its hierarchies come into effect, influencing characters and events. To gain a broader understanding of this particular topic (in relation to the play vs. real life), we have organized our presentation to include aspects of both the play and France during the 1600’s. France Politics: France was ruled by an absolute monarchy- King Louis XIV known to his people as the Sun King. He is attributed to the renovations of the palace of Versailles and the instigation of tedious court rituals performed by the aristocracy that resided within the palace walls. The King believed himself to be the supreme ruler of man, ordained by the divine will of god. In 1600’s France the word of the king was law. There was no parliament that could control the will of the monarch, the king had jurisdiction over all forms of government. Favouritism among the first and second estates grew along with the power of the king, and thus ushered a new age in which the elite and privileged ruled over the nation of France. In this, the third estate had little to no say in the matter of governance. France Society: Under the rule of the monarchy, France was divided into three distinct social classes known as estates. Each estate was comprised of citizens from a specific social rank. The First Estate: The First Estate comprised the entire clergy, traditionally divided into "higher" and "lower" clergy- the high clergy were from families of the nobility. The catholic religion was the predominant faith in France and garnered the church power and influence over the French people. They enjoyed many privileges, such as exemptions from tax payments, and ownership of lands. Extremely powerful, the first estate amassed a vast fortune. DISCUSSION QUESTION #1:
How does society and it's
hierarchy's compare to the
play as opposed to mid 1600's France? What are some major influences and distinctions of the time (how does it influence the play and real life)? DISCUSSION QUESTION #2:
How do class distinctions influence characters in the play? Society and its Hierarchies DISCUSSION QUESTION #3:
How does food and clothing indicate what culture or status you belong to? Are there specific symbols in the play that distinguish status? The Second Estate: was comprised the nobility. Although membership in the noble class was mainly passed down though hereditary rights, it was not a closed order. New individuals were appointed to the nobility by the monarchy if by earning favour, or they could purchase rights and titles or join by marriage. As a noble they enjoyed certain rights that included the right to hunt, the right to wear a sword and have a coat of arms, and, in principle, the right to possess a fief or seigneurie- this meant that they could collect profit from land worked by peasants, they could also charge peasants for use of their grain mills (this was generally a feudal policy but practiced even in the 17th century). Nobles were also granted an exemption from paying the taille (oldest form of direct taxation), Furthermore, certain civic, and military positions were reserved for nobles. However, the nobles also had responsibilities. Nobles were required to honor, serve, and counsel their king. They were often required to render military service (for example, the impôt du sang or "blood tax” the nobility was remodeled into what the 17th century would come to call l'honnête homme ('the honest man'), among whose chief virtues were eloquent speech, skill at dance, refinement of manners, appreciation of the arts, intellectual curiosity, wit, a spiritual or platonic attitude in love, and the ability to write poetry. Most notable of noble values are the aristocratic obsession with "glory" (la gloire) and majesty (la grandeur) and the spectacle of power, prestige, and luxury. The Second Estate constituted approximately 2% of France's population. Third Estate- Bourgeoisie and peasantry: in the French feudal order, the masculine and feminine terms bourgeois and bourgeoisie identified the rich men and women who were members of the urban and rural Third Estate. Urban and rural, together making up 97% of France's population. The urban included the bourgeoisie as well as wage-laborers. The rural included free peasants (who owned their own land) who could be prosperous, and peasants working on a nobles land. The free peasants paid disproportionately high taxes compared to the other Estates and were sometimes unhappy because they wanted more rights. In addition, the First and Second Estates relied on the labor of the Third, which made the latter's unequal status all the more frustrating. Men and women shared the hard life of physical labor and food shortage. Most were born within this group, and died in the Third Estate. It was extremely rare for people in this of this status to become part of the elevated estates. Those who did were either recognized for their extraordinary bravery in a battle or for being "called" into religious life. A few commoners were able to catch the eye of the second estate, marry, and join them, although this was quite rare as well. How did hierarchies affect society: Because society was ruled by an elite class system, resentment and animosity among the third estate was quite common. The peasantry and to an extent, the bourgeoisie were forced to pay large sums in taxes, in part to support the extravagant and gluttonous lifestyles of the aristocracy. The estates also served the purpose of forming the Estates General, in which all three estates would be represented, and their interests presented to the king. Despite the fact the Third Estate held the largest population of the people, the voting process was conducted in favour of “voting by order” in which they first and second estate could overrule the third, as they shared common interests, primarily ensuring the survival of the aristocracy. The Third Estate favoured “voting by head” in which the majority would have say- an advantage to the Third Estates vast numbers. But in the end it was the privileged that prevailed. During the timeframe of Cyrano, France was entangled in two major wars: the Thirty Years’ War and the Franco-Spanish War. Cyrano coincides with the rules of two kings (Louis XIII and Louis XIV), who acted in conjunction with two primary ministers (Cardinals Richelieu and Mazarin) In or out of battle, French noblemen carried their swords, ever ready to defend slights against their honor. The most trifling quibbles could provoke a man to throw down his glove and challenge the offender. Perhaps the most apt illustration of this French bravado could be found in the famously independent Gascons, who make up Cyrano’s company and hail from Gascony in southern France. Disposed toward acts of impulsive violence, prone to a pride, and always ready to take on a challenge, Gascons embody the very epitome of panache and have become popular figures in French culture. The affect of society and its hierarchies: Though Cyrano de Bergerac is not purely a historical drama as it is a romantic comedy, it does touch on some of the principles of 17th century France. The aristocracy enjoyed the flourish and decadence of French society, and valued the virtues of honor and integrity. Art and culture were prominent amongst French society. Rostand makes a point of both mocking and paying tribute to seventeenth century France. (The setting is, incidentally, the same historical setting which Dumas used for The Three Musketeers.) Rostand idealizes the chivalry of the time – the richness of court life, the heroism of the soldiers and musketeers, the romance between knights and beautiful noblewomen, and the beauty of romantic poetry. Rostand also makes fun of the time period, depicting some of the historical practices as ridiculous – for example, the slapping-a-glove-in-your-enemies-face sort of thing as well as dueling. Characters in the play: Many of the character in Cyrano belong to some form of a class or another.
•Christian is a Baron- a young nobleman who joins as a new cadet
•Cyrano is a noble gentry- Cyrano is the very representation of a 17th century noble man- Educated and skilled in the arts of eloquent speech, honorable manner, and appreciation for beauty.
•Roxanne is an heiress
•De Guiche is a Comte- De Guiche is a prime example of the corruption and greed found among the aristocracy. As the play’s villain he is vengeful bitter, violent, and is always seeking ways to which have Cyrano killed. Unlike Cyrano, De Guiche uses his skillful wit for flattery and to elevate his status.
•The Vicomte de Valvert- the man intended to marry Roxanne
•In the year 1640, the Hall of the Hotel de Bourgogne is alive with activity of the moving crowd awaiting a performance of the play La Clorise—. People converse, divided according to their social class (Act I, scene i)
•The opening scene emphasizes the importance of the theater as a social gathering in 17th century France. Patrons of the theatre incude an array of guests- thieves, pages, gamblers, and social climbers seeking to improve their status- those who composed French society at the time.
•Two elegant marquises, with swords strapped to their waists, tread through the crowd Wealth and status displayed through food:
•The middle class spent more money on food than they did on the rest of the items in their house. Though the result of the numerous courses of rich food was that there was a higher amount of obesity amongst the middle and upper-class because being overweight was a sign of wealth. It portrayed you as one who always had his/her belly full. CREAM PUFFS!!!!
These are delicious treats that originated in Renaissance France and are also referred to as chouz à la crème. It is a pastry dessert with a hallow centre that would be served at extravagant occasions. Those in the second estate were more likely to serve this. THE END Wealth and status displayed through home decor and fashion:
•The fashion statements you made defined your standing in society. Wearing new fabrics and nicely tailored clothes played a big factor in your popularity.
•The wealthier had more luxurious houses and furnishings. They tended to rent the houses they lived in rather than actually owning them.
•The bourgeoisie along with the nobles had different wardrobes for each individual occasion, whether they be going to a wedding, church, or just a leisurely weekend visit.
•The most prestigious of the elite threw and were invited to lavish affairs for this represented your status.
•The noble had swords strapped to their waists. Wealth and status displayed through proper behavior and education:
•Good behavior was expected out of everyone in the middle and upper-class. Strict conducts were set in place and were expected to be upheld.
•Self-discpline, hard work and personal achievement were stressed. It ensured all children were brought up with exemplary manners.
•The right education was an aspect that was very much stressed to the parents of the bourgeoise and nobility. In order to provide their children with the best of education, they would hire the help of a tutor or governess or even send them to university.
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