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Cyrano is the central character and protagonist of the play. His intelligence, courage, and opposition to all pretentiousness and hypocrisy make him the focal point of other people's admiration, jealousy, and insecurity. His aggressiveness, biting wit, and swordsmanship make many enemies among the rich and the powerful who desire openly or covertly to eliminate him. Although he keeps his love for his cousin Roxane a secret, he makes himself the guardian of her honor and happiness.
Cyrano's chief antagonist is himself. Because of the largeness of his nose, he feels that he is very unattractive. As a result, he believes that he can never win the love of a woman, especially not one as beautiful as Roxane. Believing he can never have her for his own, he agrees to help Christian win her love.
Count De Guiche is another antagonist of Cyrano. This foppish nobleman wants to seduce Roxane by arranging a marriage of convenience to suit his purposes. When Cyrano helps to arrange the marriage of Christian and Roxane, foiling De Guiche's plans, De Guiche punishes them by sending both Christian and Cyrano to fight the battle of Arras, where Christian is killed and Cyrano's hopes are permanently dashed.
The climax occurs when Christian is killed. Up until this point, Cyrano enjoys expressing his love to Roxane, using Christian as the mouthpiece. He even holds on to vague hopes that someday he can personally express his love to her and she will love him in return, in spite of his ugliness. With the death of Christian, Cyrano is crushed. He can no longer write his love letters, signed as Christian, to Roxane, and he can never tell her that he was the author of the letters. Because of his lack of confidence, his love will always be unrequited.
The play ends in tragedy. Cyrano accepts that he can never win Roxane. Since Christian is killed, he can never tell her that he, not her husband, was the author of the letters that she so admired. In addition, Roxane is so crushed by her husband's death that she removes herself to a convent, where Cyrano often goes to visit.
In spite of Cyrano's tragedy, there is one small triumph. When Cyrano dies he is convinced about Roxane's ability to love him despite his grotesque nose. This thought gives him great pleasure.