What I Learned About Dating From Cyrano And His Nose

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What I learned about dating from Cyrano

I hope you all have read the great comic-tragedy Cyrano de Bergerac, by Edmund Rostand, which is surely one of the best love stories of all time.

In seventeenth century Paris, Cyrano de Bergerac is a brilliant, flamboyant poet, philosopher, and duelist whose refusal to compromise on either his work or his conscience by catering to a wealthy patron dooms him to a life of perpetual obscurity. Nevertheless, he relishes his freedom and delights in giving offense to the snobbish hypocrites he encounters on a daily basis.

However, for all his bravado, Cyrano has a weak point: his oversized nose, which he is convinced makes him the laughingstock of any company and which furnishes the basis for many a duel. Worse, it leaves him unable to bring himself to speak to Roxanne, the woman he loves with all the fervor of a French romantic poet.

Convinced that his ridiculous nose forever disqualifies him as a lover, Cyrano volunteers to serve as the mouthpiece and trainer of the handsome, but inarticulate Christian, a fellow soldier in his regiment with whom Roxanne is infatuated. This comedic deception culminates in a spectacular balcony scene where Cyrano, hidden by the shadows and disguised as Christian, pours out his love in an ecstasy of poetic bliss.

“Love, I love beyond breath, beyond reason, beyond love’s own power of loving! Your name is like a golden bell hung in my heart; and when I think of you I tremble, and the bell swings and rings, Roxanne!…Roxanne!…and along my veins, Roxanne!…”

The spell he casts works too well, and Roxanne and Christian marry at once, right before Cyrano and Christian are called away to fight in the Siege of Arras during the Thirty Years War, in which Christian is killed, but not before discovering that Roxanne loves him for his soul and not his face…which means that she really loves Cyrano.

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Unwilling to spoil her memory of Christian, Cyrano hides the truth for fifteen long years, until he is mortally wounded in an ambush by his political enemies. Knowing that he is dying, he goes to her one last time to say his farewell, and from his tone and words she guesses the truth and they confess their love as he dies, lonely and unsuccessful, but free.

“There is one crown I bear away with me…One thing without stain, unspotted from the world, in spite of doom mine own! And that is…my panache.”

“I Love Cleopatra; Do I Appear Caesar?”

Those of us who love Cyrano often see much of ourselves in him; like him, we are painfully aware of a glaring flaw in ourselves that seems to disqualify us forever from playing the romantic lead.

We are too plain, our personalities are too uninteresting, our interests too childish, our accomplishments too few. In our minds they stand out before us like Cyrano’s elephantine nose. Who would have us with such flaws, such disfigurements?

Yet the truth is that Cyrano exaggerates his own predicament. His other qualities more than make up for his physical appearance in the eyes of women, as well as those of most of men. A poor serving girl is smitten by him like a teenager swooning over a movie star. His comrades-in-arms look to him as their leader and the hero of their regiment. When he performs some great feat of gallantry, as when he marches off to fight a hundred men single handedly, he receives fervent admiration from everyone around him.

Even his enemies, such as the proud Comte de Guiche make little or no mention of his nose, but of his gadfly-like tendencies and willingness to insult them with impunity. It is his own vanity and preoccupation with his perceived disfiguration that is the source of his failure: not his nose.

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You see, by playing to his strengths, Cyrano is able to make his defects recede into the background. His wit and courage inspire admiration and envy far more than his nose invites ridicule, if he could only see it.

We, of course, are keenly aware of our defects, for we live with them everyday. We see the imperfections in our appearance, the social faux pas, the unconscious discourtesies, the sins that no one but our confessor knows about, and we wonder why any woman would have us, let alone the beautiful and fascinating creatures we find on CatholicMatch.

“Is it Not Strange to be Myself to You?”

These things ought, of course, to be corrected if possible. But even more important is to embrace the strengths of our character. We all, I am sure, have great qualities, perhaps not as impressive as Cyrano’s, but worthy of admiration nonetheless. When we find ourselves brooding on our defects, we ought to turn to an area of strength and plunge full-heartedly into it.

Confidence is rooted in knowledge of ourselves. Cyrano feared no man’s attack because he knew he was the greatest swordsman in all of Paris, yet he feared to speak to his beloved because he had no knowledge of his own attractiveness. By embracing our own qualities, concentrating our mind upon them, and constantly seeking to improve them, we will gain in confidence because we will know what we have to offer.

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If you feel intimidated by an attractive prospect on CatholicMatch, take a moment to consider yourself and what you have to offer as a man. Perhaps you are a man of great physical prowess, or of great piety and kindness, or a man with a rich sense of humor, or a fine intellect. Perhaps you are skilled in some practical or artistic talent. Whatever the case, I am sure you have something. Think on this skill a moment, perhaps go and practice it, then put yourself forward secure in the knowledge that you have all the qualifications to play the hero of romance.

St. Francis de Sales counseled us to “Be who you are, and be that well.” To be yourself, to be completely and thoroughly yourself (as long as it isn’t used as an excuse for vice or discourtesy) is a wonderfully attractive thing. It requires courage, confidence, strength of character, and, of course, at least a little panache.

“I feel too strong to war with mortals: BRING ME GIANTS!” 



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9 Comments

  1. Steve-1449169 May 21, 2017 Reply

    I’ve always felt bad for Christian.

  2. Lucy-1409663 May 6, 2017 Reply

    Very great article indeed. Beauty comes from the inside if we take sometime to get to know someone. Have a life story in it for us, Thank you for writing such great piece of wok.
    .

  3. Joe-1017468 May 5, 2017 Reply

    Nice article! Too bad there are many shallow people out there and that judge you based on your face and not the person you are.

  4. Sue-906387 May 2, 2017 Reply

    Sadly, many people are solving their physical flaws by resorting to surgeries, liposuction, botox, facelift etc. Be it Hollywood folks or even many Christians. When the truth is…it’s found at the tip of their nose…Sweet Jesus!!!

    My male teacher once said, “There is beauty even in wrinkled skin,” – to which I add “and grey hair.” Kudos to this!!!

  5. Sue-906387 May 2, 2017 Reply

    What an amazing, insightful, wise article oozing with knowledge! Beauty is only skin deep, apart from that it’s the soul that decides/resolve/determine the beauty of the individual. This character reminds me of the French actor Gerard Depardieu, who has a big nose as well; yet I find him attractive due to his character. In fact, the nose is used by many people to tease someone about how unattractive they are. As Christians, we know who we are in Christ. A superficiality as this should not deter us from befriending someone who has – something that can be perceived as physical flaw. As we mature, we start to evaluate people’s beauty by the beauty of their soul, mind, character, spirit etc.

    Thanks David for writing this article. Keep up the great work!

  6. Vincent-767706 May 1, 2017 Reply

    Confidence is key. Constantly work on yourself, pursue the people you want to, and let them decide how they feel about you. You may be pleasantly surprised.

  7. Stephanie-1368834 May 1, 2017 Reply

    +JMJ+
    Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. We are our own worst critics (guilty as charged!) and thus, we should see everyone including ourselves, in God’s eyes. Easier said than done, I know, but definitely worth putting forth the effort and believing that we are all made in the image and likeness of God.

  8. Catherine-1142427 May 1, 2017 Reply

    Very enlightening. I enjoyed this article. I can see myself in it somewhat. It really gives you something to think about.

  9. Pat-5351 May 1, 2017 Reply

    Great article; a lot of wisdom from this great piece of literature!

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