Cyrano vs. Sam Spade in Cyrano de Bergerac and The Maltese Falcon. Free Essay

Published: 2023-07-31
Cyrano vs. Sam Spade in Cyrano de Bergerac and The Maltese Falcon. Free Essay
Essay type:  Book review
Categories:  Relationship Character analysis Dramatic literature
Pages: 6
Wordcount: 1494 words
13 min read

Cyrano de Bergerac is a drama by Edmond Rostand, set in five acts, about an eloquent, talented, and brave man, who has a deep love for a woman, Roxane. Rostand wrote the play in the form of a comedy full of satire, of the over-romance in France in the 1600s. The play has a central lesson that individuals should endeavor in looking past appearances and instead see others for who they indeed are. Rostand's play has some sought relationship with Dashiell Hammett's novel The Maltese Falcon, a 1941 film featuring Sam Spade, an investigator employed by Brigid O'Shaughnessy to resolve the mystery of the Maltese Falcon. In the two works, Cyrano from Cyrano de Bergerac from and Sam Spade the Maltese Falcon compare significantly in various terms. This essay delves to outline the qualities of both characters and how the stories would change if the two parties were switched to each other’s positions.

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Positive and Negative Qualities of Cyrano in Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano is the key character in Cyrano de Bergerac and the main protagonist in the work. Among his main positive qualities include effective skills as a swordsman, useful talents in poetry, and full of ideas, evident through his approach of various instances in the play. Cyrano is resilient despite the abuse of his ugly appearance. For instance, his mother never showed any affection to him while he was mocked and insulted because of his looks. However, despite all these negativities, he showed the courage to protect himself from the abuse. Moreover, as Williams (113) points out, in the difficulties that he has endured, Cyrano learned to appreciate the inner qualities that separate him from most of the other characters in the play. However, despite these positive qualities, Cyrano's flaws are mainly linked to his strengths. Despite protecting his integrity and ideals, he fears being vulnerable with a woman and therefore fails to express his love for Roxane (Tsur, 146). His lack of self-confidence, as well as low self-esteem, is, therefore, among his main negative attributes in the play.

Positive and Negative Qualities of Sam Spade in The Maltese Falcon

As a main character in the novel, Sam Spade has unshakable ethical integrity. He also demonstrates intense courage and determination towards solving the mystery in Maltese Falcon regarding the murder of his partner. Despite the challenges that arise in the field of his work, Spade does not give up so easily, a fact that shows his resilience. Furthermore, the character demonstrates his skillfulness in his career and everything that he does. The author redefines him as the hero detective that is tough and calculative, who tolerates no nonsense (Linder, 121). He, therefore, uses his wit along with his personality to get himself out of questionable situations. However, despite these positive attributes, Spade had a churn of negative aspects as well that portrayed his weaknesses. For instance, he was incredibly selfish, easily susceptible to women, and self-preserving from the rest of the characters and further appeared an anti-hero (Gates, 13). Besides, Spade is also portrayed as immoral, untrustworthy, and greedy, as he always finds ways to profit rather than offer help to other people. However, instead of these negative qualities causing his downfall, they tend to help him at the end.

How the Cyrano and Spade Behave in the World

Both parties behave distinctively in the world, giving them their individual characters in the play and novel, respectively. For example, Cyrano behaves courageously, eloquent, and as a fighter, making it hard to dislike him. Moreover, according to Williams (116), in the entire essay, Cyrano behaves according to his sense of values and ethics. He further remains unwavering while pursuing to be honorable and therefore emulates a character that every man should be. Publicly, Spade behaves heroic and with a lot of skills. He, however, demonstrates dark and despondent behavior in his private self. On the other hand, he behaves in a somewhat similar manner as Cyrano, but differ in some aspects. For instance, he shows no respect to the authorities, degrading the police, and regarding them as insignificant (Gates, 15). As a result, the police also treat him the same way, and to some extent, they consider him a suspect. Moreover, Spade always behaves ready for the unexpected while his motivations remain private, indicating that he has a personal moral code.

The Main Qualities of Cyrano and Sam Spade

Both characters have distinct qualities that make them develop different characters altogether. For instance, Cyrano is eloquent, romantic, clever, as well as brave. And despite his appearance that prompts a lot of intimidation and mockery, Cyrano has an incredible skillful mind and could come with beautiful and meaningful verses in an instant that most of her audience would appreciate (Tsur, 148). However, he is okay with constantly lying, specifically to the woman he loves. As such, based on these main qualities, Rostand, therefore, portrays Cyrano as a noble and principled character in the play. Comparatively, Sam Spade in the Maltese Falcon is specifically attributed as an antihero. Even though he demonstrates the usual path of a hero, which includes qualities such as courage, skillfulness, sacrifice, among others, they do not appear in an orthodox manner, a fact that fails to present him as a literal hero (Gates, 18). However, the author portrays him as a skillful character in everything that he does. And despite this attribute, Rostand portrays Spade’s main character as immoral and untrustworthy due to his greediness and selfishness.

Aspects that Make Cyrano Worth Our Time and Trouble

Cyrano is worth our time and trouble because despite the intimidations, mockery, and insults to him because of his appearances, he still demonstrates positive qualities that other people can emulate. For instance, he was disliked by his own mother, women as well as men but still managed to maintain his character and amidst all that, to the extent of inspiring people (Tsur, 149). In this aspect, the character is worth the time and trouble as we can wait to see how it all unfolds amidst the perception created towards him at the beginning of the play.

How Sam Spade Manages to Control Situations so Well

Sam Spade is successful in controlling situations so well because, as Rostand explains, he is always ready for the unexpected. This enables him to maneuver through any situation successfully, being that he always anticipated for any possibility. Moreover, according to Rockler (2020), Spade also has an unapologetic calculation of risks, which aids his control of situations successfully. Furthermore, he succeeds in managing and controlling situations so well due to his courage and skillfulness while handling different situations in the novel.

How the Stories Would Change if Cyrano and Sam Spade Were Switched in the Two Works

If the two characters were switched, the perspectives of the two stories would change significantly. For instance, it would have been hard for Cyrano to solve the murder mystery in The Maltese Falcon, since he lacks various qualities demonstrated by Sam Spade. On the other hand, given that Spade did not have self-esteem issues, it would not have been difficult for him to approach Roxane.

What we would Learn about the Characters if we thought about such Strange Revisions of the Two Stories

If we thought about such strange revisions in the two stories, we would possibly learn that solving such a murder mystery entails relevant skills that everybody does not pose. Moreover, we would learn that it also takes specific personalities for individuals to express and engage their romantic feeling.


As evinced in this discussion, both characters Cyrano and Sam Spade from Cyrano de Bergerac and The Maltese Falcon respectively, compare distinctively. While Cyrano is portrayed to have low self-esteem issues and a lack of self-confidence, Sam Spade, on the other hand, is courageous of himself and, therefore, outreaching. As seen in the discussion, both characters have both negative and positive qualities. Their different qualities define their individual characters, where Cyrano is portrayed as a noble and principled character, while Spade is characterized as immoral and untrustworthy. Evidently, Cyrano is worth our time and trouble considering that despite his experience at the beginning of the play, he manages to endure all the mockery and insults. As such, a switch of the two characters in the two stories would lead to a significant change in the plot of the stories due to the difference in their characters.

Works Cited

Gates, Philippa. "The Three Sam Spades: The Shifting Model of American Masculinity in the Three Films of" The Maltese Falcon." Framework: The Journal of Cinema and Media 49.1 (2008): 7-26

Linder, Daniel. "Translating Irony in Popular Fiction: Dashiell Hammett’s The Maltese Falcon." Linguistica Antverpiensia, New Series–Themes in Translation Studies 9 (2010): 119-134.

Rockler, Michael. "Sam Spade, Existential Hero? | Issue 75 | Philosophy Now". Philosophynow.Org, 2020,

Tsur, Reuven. "Comparing Approaches to Verification Style in Cyrano de Bergerac." Cognitive Semiotics 2.Supplement (2008): 146-168.

Williams, Patricia Elliott. "Some Classical Aspects of" Cyrano De Bergerac." Nineteenth-Century French Studies 1.2 (1973): 112-124.

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