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Criticism of the intellectual and artistic conditions
The vibrant intellectual life of seventeenth century France, when the great Corneille and Molière lived and the ladies formed salons to encourage the arts, is reflected in Cyrano de Bergerac; but the play also criticizes some of the falseness of the time. The very first act deals with the inner politics of the theatre. In his presentation, Rostand pokes fun at the "precieuse" women who pretend to be great intellectuals. He also criticizes the system of patronage that allows the wealthy to control the success of a play or other artistic endeavor in spite of its merit. Additionally, Rostand criticizes the quality of the theater audience and its reasons for coming to see the play. When Cyrano stops Montfleury in the middle of his performance, he tells the audience that he has done them a favor by closing down a third-rate play with actors who murder the lines of the dramatists. Later in the play, Cyrano shows his resistance to the system of patronage when he refuses to accept the support of Cardinal Richelieu for his own work. He does not want someone else to have the power to edit his creations or to tell him what or how to write.