Cyrano is a truly romantic play, harking back to the tales of chivalry; Cyrano is the perfect chevalier servant.This is a completely French play, a completely French hero.
Learning challenge: Overcoming or resolving "cognitive dissonance" between "romance as women's love story" and "romance as hero-story of quest, trial, and transcendence." Many students understand these distinctions as instructor explains or reinforces them, but few exams or essays refer to the romance narrative (or they keep referring to romance exclusively as a love story), indicating that previous associations overpower the new information, which is not reinforced except in advanced literary studies.
Because Cyrano is so often referred to as a romantic play, a discussion of romantic and romanticism seems to be in order.
Three aspects of the words romantic and romance should be considered by the student of Cyrano: romance, meaning a medieval, chivalric tale; romantic, as used in English literary criticism; and Romantic, as used in French literary criticism.
It is not at all like the romantic plays of Shakespeare, for example, and it follows few, if any, of the traditions of the French Romantic period.
It is a spark of genius, growing out of French literary tradition, but not tied to any school.