Friday, November 13, 2009

Question of the Week (11/13/09)

Read the following introduction to our next classic, Cyrano de Bergerac, and answer the question. Post and respond by Sunday.

When Cyrano de Bergerac was first produced at the Porte Saint-Martin Theater in Paris, France, on December 28, 1897, the audience applauded for a full hour after the final curtain was drawn. A classic was created on that night, and an unforgettable hero of literature was born.
The play is based loosely on the life of playwright Savien de Cyrano de Bergerac (1619-1655), Edmond Rostand's favorite writer. Actor Constant-Benoit Coquelin had asked Rostand to write a play to showcase his versatile acting abilities. Rostand, though writing in the 1890's, set his action in the 1640's; during the last two decades of the real de Bergerac's life. This "heroic comedy" uses rhymed Alexandrine verse to combine romance, heroic action, and humor to give life to one of the most enduring characters in modern literature: Cyrano de Bergerac, a hero who is not only a swashbuckler but a poet, using words as effectively as weapons.
Cyrano was first published in France by Charpentier et Fasquelle in 1898; and first translated into English by Howard Thayer Kingsbury for Lamson, Wolfe, and Co. the same year. The play has been produced all over the world. In 1950 it was brought to movie screens in the United States by the United Artists studio with Jose Ferrer starring in the title role. Noted writer Anthony Burgess (A Clockwork Orange) translated the play in 1971: this translation was used as the basis for the subtitles for the 1990 French film version directed by Jean-Paul Rappineau and starring Gerard Depardieu.
A modern interpretation of Cyrano de Bergerac, Roxanne, was produced by Columbia Pictures in 1987. This film, loosely based on Rostand's play, was written by and starred comedian Steve Martin as a modern Cyrano. The success of this film was due in part to its loyalty to the central themes of love, loyalty, sacrifice, and independence of Rostand's original classic. The hero, again with a very large nose, woos the woman he loves for another, more "handsome" man.
Edmond Rostand's mix of humor, romance, and heroic action in Cyrano de Bergerac has captured audience imagination for almost 100 years. Its recurring themes of love, loyalty, sacrifice, and friendship continue to have resonance for audiences of many generations.

"In our image-conscious society, where extreme makeovers of everything from faces to houses get huge television ratings, we have lost the values of honor, courage and love. Cyrano reminds us… what true values are." —Barbara Van Holt

Comment on the truthfulness of this quote. In what ways is our society "image-conscious"? Post and respond by Sunday.

34 comments:

Nathaniel brown said...

This is true. We tend to judge ourselves by our economic success. Our houses, cars, or clothes all become more important than who we really are. Those who do not have these things long for them, a longing encouraged by the mainstream media. We dream of winning the lottery or having our houses rebuilt. However these things do not affect who we are, they just help us forget. I have not read Cyrano de Bergerac and cannot say if it reminds us of what true values are or not. However, most great works of literature are great because the focus on values and not things, such as friendship and loyalty in the Kite Runner. Therefor i am confident will do just what Barbara Van Holt claims it will.

Kiana said...

I agree with Nathaniel. This quote is true. Many people are very conscious of their image and are concerned with having big houses, new cars and technology, and expensive clothes. People who do not have these things often become jealous and wish they had that "ideal" life. We see on TV many different makeover shows for things from houses to cars to overall appearance. People love to watch those shows because it is something they wish they could have. Our values have changed from those of honor, courage, and love to more materialistic values. I also have not read this text but as Nathaniel said literature often focuses on the values we used to find important.

George Papa said...

I think that this quote is true as Nathaniel said, that we mostly judge on appearance or image because these are things that are important in modern day society rather than values. There are many instances in which appearance is important from having different type of clothing to different type of technology.

Kelsey said...

I also think that this quote is completely true. I think that we have grown up in a society that is extremely image-conscious. All around us people are renovating their houses to have higher ceilings and bigger "master bedrooms", so we think of it as the norm. This has made us mix up what the most important things in life are. Our top priorities certainly shouldn't be the size of your house, or how "wrinkle-free" your face is, though that seems to be what is happening in our culture.

However, I think that I disagree with part of what Nathaniel and Kiana are saying, supporting that we have LOST values of honor, courage and love. I think that (most people at least) certainly still value love, friendship and honor, just that for many people, it has gotten lower on the list of priorities.

Emily Lohr said...

Kelsey has brought up a strong point. I agree with her that people still value love, friendship, and honor, but are currently more worried about their financial issues and how the appear in society. I do agree with the quote and believe that society is greatly influenced by the media. There have been numerous reports of self-esteem issues amongst young girls who see ads of beautiful, skinny models and think that that is what they should look like. Image is important in society, which is unfortunate because not everyone can be rich or have nice clothes. It's more important to have things that last a lifetime like love and friendship.

Alice.Rottersman said...

I agree with Kelsey and Emily; we still value love, loyalty, etc but they have been knocked down in the heirarchy of what people care about. Everyone else has already said this, but repitition will really make it stick (and I want full credit...)our society puts emphasis on what one looks like and owns, what "image" one presents. This includes everything from the brand one buys to how they physically appear.
Emily also brought up the interesting point that media influences society to become like this. To add to that, our generation is known as "Generation M." Guess what the M stands for...

Jennie said...

I agree with Ms. Van Holt. I don't know exactly how Cyrano reminds us of true values (i haven't read the text before) but I DO know how Steve Martin does, in Roxanne. Great movie, by the way. A good class experience to come I'm thinking....

For a lot of people in our world, looks are everything. I remember hearing about Susan Boyle when she was first getting attention. She said--and others agreed--that she would never undergo a "makeover" just because she is in the entertainment industry. But even after saying this, she has been made up quiet a bit. (Her hair, skin, clothes, etc. have changed to what is more "accepted" by the public, her audience.)

I think it's very sad that there is this need to be the "norm." But even though I recognize that this shouldn't be, I can't help but take people's looks into account. With the way we think today, outward appearances ARE important.

Michaela Helble said...

Having never read Cyrano, I can't say whether or not it reminds people of what true values are. However, I agree with everyone else that our society is "image concious." In a few of my other english classes, we've discussed the american dream...which basically means that everyone wants to have a good job and own a nice house. Although that may be a good value to have, it IS possible to be happy, have friends, or find love without owning a nice house or having a great job. In some ways, the idea of the american dream says to people that in order to be happy, they have to have a nice house and a great job. This is once again placing a lot of value on images. People just feel like they need to change themselves to fit in.
I think that values such as friendship and love have just been dampened. Kelsey put it really well when she said "I think that (most people at least) certainly still value love, friendship and honor, just that for many people, it has gotten lower on the list of priorities." This is definitely true. It's just that more people focus on their images than these values today...but these values have certainly not been lost.

Sonya said...

Although I've never read Cyrano, I have seen the movie Roxanne, and I would say that it does do a good job of reminding people what true value are. It's not like a lot of movies where the characters are good-looking, or have a lot of money. It shows normal, nice people, and how they are the best.
As many other people have said, we have a very "image conscious" society. People pay a lot of attention to how much money others have, and we are constantly putting lots of money into clothes, haircuts, and many other more material aspects of life just to make ourselves look better. We are viewed by society based on our social status and the image we create, which has a lot to do with wealth. I really like how Kelsey said it, that "(most people at least) certainly still value love, friendship, and honor, just that for many people it has gotten lower on the list of priorities." I definitely agree with this. Most people these days more concerned with their image or social status than focusing on these values such as love, honor, and friendship, that really determine who a person is.

Erin Donohue said...

I think that this is an interesting quote, because it challenges the very things that society has become today.

As Sonya said, 'people these days are more concerned with their image or social status...', which I think is completely true. Why has it become so important to dress a certain way, and pretend to be someone you are not just so you are accepted socially?

People have forgotten to be true to themselves, and they have lost the ability to recognize honor, courage and love in people who surround them. I have not seen Cyrano, nor the movie Roxanne as some people have, but Barbara Van Holt has thoughtfully pin-pointed some of the very issues that we spend too much energy on.

Although she is not pointing fingers, one might begin to question what values they believe in as a result of reading her quote...

Hayley said...

As many before me have said, in current society, it is very important to dress, behave, and in general live a particular way. There is a difference, though. I don't know if it if for the better or the worst, but there isn't just one way to be. Even as people grow up, they find that their are cliques, groups of people. While you have a choice in the genre of person you become, you will still be following the unspoken rules of that group, be it artsy types, sporty types, or academic types, etc. We've reached a point where you can classify human beings, their genus, species, class etc., on how they act and dress.
Still,while I agree with many people, that our society has always cared too much about appearances, I disagree on one point. Our society has always allowed people to have small differences, different morals. No matter how strict we are, there are always kind people and less kind people.

Lauren Hoh said...

The quote is a true mirror of what our society values today instead of what it should. Instead of judging people on their values, interests, and general inner beauty, we judge from the outside. It is a sad truth, because a person with a beautiful heart could be neglected just because they may not have a pretty face. There is another quote that we read in class by Marilyn Monroe that goes: "Hollywood is a place where they'll pay you a thousand dollars for a kiss and 50 cents for your soul." this quote is also an example of the reality that in this age, outer beauty is all that is important, and especially that all Hollywood and movies care about is first getting a hot actor or beautiful actress to play parts, and them being good people comes second.

I have seen Roxanne, and it really opens your eyes to the fact that since Steve Martin has a very long nose, people can't get past his looks to find out that he is so nice and has a big heart.

I agree with Sonya that in Roxanne, they don't base the movie on gorgeous people, but realistic ones that let you focus on the values instead of thinking "Wow, I wonder how her hair is so nice."

If society doesn't snap out of this fix soon, the only thing people are going to care about is outer image.

Katie Callahan said...

I agree with Lauren. Modern society has grown into a competition of wealth and beaty. A car is more important than kindness and an extravagant house is more important than loyalty.

With the media bombarding us everyday with images of perfection and wealth, it is hard not to want these things. But, our society is based more on materialistic things than on inner beaty and abilities.

Daniel G said...

I believe that this quote efinitely has a lot of truth to it, butit is a littl bit of a stretch. As Kelsey and others hve said, we have not altogether lost most of the important values. It is true that people are focusing more on our image in society than we used to, and at times this is taking presidense over the more important values, but they are still there in one way or another.

Hwever it is a growing problem that our images, loike I said, are becoming more and more a part of who we are. This includes how we look physically and the value of the things that people associate with us, like cars, houses, etc. When we choose to focus on these, we are forgetting what is really important, which is not how we can make people better like us, but what we need to do that is better for other people even if they may not recognize it as well.

Ella Kaplan said...

I agree with what emily and others have said about how the media has really defined and twisted up people's image as being realistic. I think that our generation is taught to look are best and try to get the perfect body, perfect face, ect. and we don't (to an extent) appreciate all the features that we have.

I do sort of see why Barbara Van Holt says "we have lost the values of honor, courage and love" because of our image-conscious world. My mom grew up in middle class and she said that she had a tv with about 5 stations, one small two story house and two brothers and that she didn't really have anything besides that when she was little. Even though she didn't have a lot, she felt that she never missed out on anything and that she found ways to never feel unprivileged and that learning from her parents and seeing how hard they worked, she wouldn't be the same person she is today. I do think that we find love, courage and honor but maybe not the same way that the main character or Van Holt did and because of image-consciousness, we can't really feel happy and satisfied with every little detail about our true selves.

Bryce said...

I think that the quote is true.
I agree with what Kelsey said, that we have not completely lost the values, they are still there, but not as much as they should and used to be.
Today, a lot of people are obsessed with having a good appearance. Weather it is their clothes or house or car I think that people spend way to much time and money on items to make themselves look better. First impressions today are people basically looking at one another and judging, they do not get to know them. They only care about how they look. Caring about these things makes people lose the important values of love, honor, and courage. Some people still have it, but a majority of people are obsessed with this idea about appearances.

tylertorh said...

I believe that yes we have lost a lot of values that were once instilled upon society. Its a shame that the lose of these values are not going to stop because we are going to convtinue to advance in our technology. Advancments in technology have lead to the destruction of the english language as it used to be. I agree with Nathan that we are now begining to rely on material things way to much

Leah said...

I don't have anything new to bring to the table as far as this discussion is concerned. Everyone has had basically the same comment; that they agree what today's society is "image-conscious" (which is clear from our obsession with material objects and appearance) but that we have not completely "lost" the values of honor, courage and love (they've only developed lesser importance in the public eye).

I think Lauren was very eloquent in her response regarding today's focus on image. She says, "Instead of judging people on their values, interests, and general inner beauty, we judge from the outside. It is a sad truth, because a person with a beautiful heart could be neglected just because they may not have a pretty face."

Jeff said...

Our country is just an image culture. There is nothing that we can do to change that. Yes, it is true. The media does a great job to keep this true also. There is a TV show called "America's next top model" where they just judge people's appearance. I believe that Cyrano's appearance is meant to be funny more than trying to prove a point. His comedic appearance is what brings the character to life. If he had a normal nose, I don't think that the play would have been as successful as it is. I think that the reoccurring themes prove a point that love can come from all parts and characteristics of a person.

Robin Smith said...

I agree with what everyone has said that our society judges too much on appearence, I agree especially with Nathaniel that people judge a lot on a persons economic situation. We look at the car they drive, the house that they live in, and the clothes that they wear and a lot of the time we judge them almost completely by that. We have forgotten that there are more important things that appearence social class. There are bigger values that matter such as honesty, trusyworthness, friendship, and loyalty. These values have been forgotten and replaced by superficial looks and acts.

mason vogt said...

I think that this quote is true in the sense that as humans we are so self conscious, and worried about how everything looks. This distracts us from certain truths about other people, and material things. The part of this quote that I disagree with is when it states that we have lost our honor. I think that humans have been like that for very long time now, if not forever, and tv just proves it. The fact that we are image conscious drives us to invent new things, to push the constraints of technology, and this is why we are a superior race.

mallory patton said...

The quote is very true, we base a lot of our judgements off of image, or looks. If you look at fashion magazines, for the most part, you won't see a female model who is not incredibly thin. Most of the ads in these magazines are also trying to sell their products through sexual images, another example of how image matters to people. These magazine ads put a lot of pressure on girls to look pretty and never gain weight so they could look like these models. The same pressure is on guys because they have to look and act macho or "manly" all the time so they won't be labeled as "gay". They also have pressure to be in shape because people aren't as attracted to fat people.
We also look at money, and how much people make. If someone is rich and has a lot of material items they are cool and looked up to, but if someone doesn't have as much money some people might not pay as much attention to them.

Sarah McAndrew said...

People constantly worry about personal appearence, wealth, and social status. And it's true, people tend to judge other based on their appearence and overall exterior. It's sad because someone could be really beautiful on the inside and no one would know it based on the way they look. Thats why professions like plastic surgeons are among the highest earning jobs. People care so much about the way they look that they are willing to spend thousands of dollars on making their chin just a little less rounded, or their nose not quite as crooked. I feel that people strive for beauty because of magazines and fashion. Everyone wants to be the sexy model on the front page of a magazine, but is it realistic? no. It's true that some people are fortunate to have been born with certain traits that humans find attractive, but when you go to science to alter your body I think it's pathetic because you will never look the way you want to look. Thats how it is, even the most beautiful person will feel that way, it is human nature, and as humans we should know by now that there is no such thing as perfection. A lot of people have forgotton the important things in life, such as what the question listed, but I do believe there are still a lot of people who do look for a persons values.

Sam said...

It seems as though in the world of today our focus has become more objective. We wish to have the larger house, better paying job, more advanced technology, not "silly" traits such as honor and courage. As Emily put it, the media is the catalyst for all this. Most specifically in America, we base our opinion on how someone dresses and what car they drive. As sad as it is, these are the things that people look for nowadays. You can be loyal, humerous, and loving, but people won't notice that at first glance, they'll just see how polished your cloths are and how clean your hair is. It is important to remember what's really matters, so lets hope this book leaves me with the right ideas.

Brendon said...

This quote is very true. Society, starting in the 50's, has been very busy focusing on personal images. Women are into all the make up and dressing nicely. Men are taught to dress to impress, always looking to further their business impressions. Today, people are judged by what they have and what they do, not by who they are. GO PATS! This story of Cyrano shows how our society acts and how people who do not have the visual features have to act to survive. Cyrano has the words and love of any other man during his time, but his nose is massive. So, he woos his love with his own words, but uses the more appealing face of another man to hide his features. PATRIOTS

lynda said...

What the quote says is very true, many people are very insecure about themselves and so have to put themselves out in the world in an extreme way, such as driving overexcessive cars, or living in over the top houses.

I agree with Katie in saying that everyone wants these extravagant things, houses, cars, clothing, etc, because we are always being bombarded by such images on the tv, internet, etc.

Chris W said...

Yes, I agree. Nathaniel said it perfectly in the first couple of lines. And then there is censorship to block out what we don't want to hear. It's pretty typical of modern day society, and a desire for all of these things that make us seem bigger and better than human really need to be. Having values that aren't objects is an important thing because it really helps people find what they need to be. I mean, I guess it's been said by everyone else...but I just don't see how it isn't true...

Daniel Alberta said...

This quote is true. In modern day society people tend to always want fame and fortune. If a person isn't feeling quite right, they go out and buy a new car. Everybody worries about everyone else's wealth. So I definitely agree with that quote
I also agree with what Nathaniel said

Nicolas said...

Because of the media's impact on society, we have to try harder to uphold these values, but they are not lost. Various companies try their hardest to force us into the image obsessed point of view, because their is so much profit for them in this area. It is much easier to make money off of a makeover or a product than to make money from honor, courage, or love.
We now believe that our image is a measure of success, and our own products are what make us valuable.
Cyrano's obession and shame from his image which we see as clearly ridiculous remind us that we are obsessed in much the same way as him.

Megan Pattison said...

I think Barbara Van Holt is right. I think our society is "image conscious," and has gotten worse over time. The media has played a huge role in this. I think tabloids and magazines have manipulated people's views on how people are supposed to look. I think women, specifically, struggle with this. Magazines are "airbrushed" and models are super skinny, so it appears women are these flawless "barbie-doll" figures, when in fact an incredibly small percentage of the female population is really like that.
As time goes on, money increases popularity and respect in a lot of ways. Back in the "old days" character was shown through actions and intelligence, not through objects. I agree with Nicolas that we believe our image is a measure of what good things we've done in our lives. That image is then translated into the tangible objects that we buy.
In Great Gatsby, money is a huge aspect of the way people view others. In this story, wealth isn't good enough though, it has to be old money to be truly respected. I think this is a good example of how ridiculous our society is, and it's becoming increasingly worse.
As a society, I don't think we can do anything to drastically improve this lapse in our character as a whole. We all just need to be aware of what we're faced with everyday, and know that we cannot have expectations so high. We need to step back and appreciate the little things so that we are not so "image conscious."

Alex Krass said...

I society is very image consious, just like it has been for a very long time. To this day peopel are still judge by what they wear, how bug there hose is, what kind of "toys" they have and other such things. If someone hsa a bad image people look down upon them, if they have a good image they are looked up to as what people should be like. This is horrible because someone may have a bad image but be the nicest person in the world. Van Holt's quote is very true and it is sad that our society has become and stayed that way for as long as it has. People have metnioned this before and I agree with them, that Van Holt's quote is very true.

Burton said...

these days people are all about themselves and whether or not you want to admit it we all want what is best for us. With this said things like big houses and nice cars are just a way for us to show what we have done in life and a way to brag to other people. I would agree that we have lost some values as we have grown as a world, but luckily there will always be a few people left to get us back in line.

Lupi Linehan said...

Like most people have said, our society is very image conscious. We all worry about what kinds of cars, houses, what clothes we wear etc. and often times if people don't keep up with that they get judged for it. Like burton said, there are a few people who don't judge and keep us level headed. The quote that Van Holt said is very true, and it has been this way for a very long time.

Alex Krass said...

The way we live now everyone is very image conscious. When you first look at someone or something all you see is what it or they looks like. Immeadiatly you judge on what the looks are rather then what the inside of them or it is like. Everyone is worried about how they look and where they place in society rather then being themselves, which is a horrible way to live. This is true not only for someones looks but for what they own as well. I agree with Lupi when she said people worry about there cars house, and clothing. This is true for most people and it is a bad way to live your life worrying about things liek that