Cyrano De Bergerac

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The titular character of Cyrano de Bergerac is disarmingly brilliant, highly eloquent, and good in a fight, but also cursed with an abnormally large nose—in short, he has an ugly face but a beautiful mind. Cyrano’s defining quality is his “panache,” that is, his flamboyant, sometimes aggressive style, which compels him to duel with anyone who insults his nose. In more ways than one, Cyrano is an outsider in 17th century France. He’s fiercely proud and independent—though he seems to rely on friends for money, he gives away money freely and easily. Moreover, he picks fights with almost anyone who disagrees with him, refusing to show “proper” respect for his superiors. Yet in spite of Cyrano’s rudeness and combativeness, he’s shown to be a gentle, loving soul. He’s capable of forming lasting friendships, often with those who are lower on the social totem pole than he. He’s also deeply in love with his cousin, Roxane, though he believes that this love can never amount to anything, since he’s too ugly to charm Roxane. It’s for this reason that Cyrano agrees to help Christian seduce Roxane—a plan that results in Christian’s marriage to Roxane. Ultimately, Cyrano is a comedic figure, but also a sympathetic, heroic, and even noble character as well. He stands up for himself, values love, friendship, and art above everything else, and adheres to a strong moral code.

Cyrano de Bergerac Quotes in Cyrano De Bergerac

The Cyrano De Bergerac quotes below are all either spoken by Cyrano de Bergerac or refer to Cyrano de Bergerac . For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the G. W. Dillingham Company edition of Cyrano De Bergerac published in 1898.
Act 1, Scene 2 Quotes

RAGUENEAU:
He's prouder than all the fierce Artabans of whom Gascony
has ever been and will ever be the prolific Alma Mater! Above his Toby ruff
he carries a nose!--ah, good my lords, what a nose is his! When one sees it
one is fain to cry aloud, 'Nay! 'tis too much! He plays a joke on us!' Then
one laughs, says 'He will anon take it off.' But no!--Monsieur de Bergerac
always keeps it on.

Related Characters: Ragueneau (speaker), Cyrano de Bergerac
Related Symbols: Cyrano’s Nose
Page Number: 28
Explanation and Analysis:

In this section, Ragueneau, a popular tavern-keeper, explains a few things about his friend, Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano, we're told, is an intensely proud person. He also has an enormous nose--so enormous that it looks like a prop for a party.

Ragueneau establishes the two key facts about Cyrano: 1) he's proud, and 2) he's got a huge nose. As we'll see very soon, these two facts are really one and the same: in other words, Cyrano is proud because he was born with a large nose. Cyrano has always had to defend his honor from bullies and wisecrackers. Although his nose could be considered an embarrassing debility, Cyrano has learned to "wear" his nose with pride, defending his honor against anyone foolish enough to poke fun at him.

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Act 1, Scene 4 Quotes

CYRANO:
'Tis enormous!
Old Flathead, empty-headed meddler, know
That I am proud possessing such appendice.
'Tis well known, a big nose is indicative
Of a soul affable, and kind, and courteous,
Liberal, brave, just like myself, and such
As you can never dare to dream yourself,
Rascal contemptible!

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), The Bore
Related Symbols: Cyrano’s Nose
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Cyrano quarrels with a "Bore"--a stranger who foolishly makes fun of Cyrano for his nose. Cyrano responds by boasting of his nose: he claims that his nose is proof of his good character and brave heart.

Cyrano's response to the Bore is a strategy that should be familiar to anyone who's ever had to fight off a group of bullies. Instead of pushing back when the Bore points out his nose, Cyrano agrees that he has a big nose, but then turns the tables to argue that his big nose is an asset, not a debility. In a way, Cyrano is right--over the course of a lifetime, he has trained himself to be brave and proud, in order to compensate for his ugly appearance. Furthermore, he is able to turn the mockery around on the Bore because of his "panache"--his carefully cultivated wit and flamboyance.

THE VISCOUNT:
Sir, your nose is. . . hmm. . . it is. . . very big!

CYRANO (gravely):
Very!

THE VISCOUNT (laughing):
Ha!

CYRANO (imperturbably):
Is that all?. . .

THE VISCOUNT:
What do you mean?

CYRANO:
Ah no! young blade! That was a trifle short!
You might have said at least a hundred things
By varying the tone.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Viscount de Valvert (speaker)
Related Symbols: Cyrano’s Nose
Page Number: 50-51
Explanation and Analysis:

In this famous scene, the Viscount de Valvert tries to insult Cyrano in the least creative way imaginable. Instead of thinking up an elaborate metaphor or pun about Cyrano's large nose, Valvert goes right for the throat, and calls the nose ... "very big." Cyrano responds with mock disgust, asking the Viscount why he didn't try for a more elaborate insult. (He then proceeds to list some of the cleverer ways the Viscount could have insulted him.)

Cyrano's behavior in this passage is a classic example of self-deprecating humor. Instead of fighting back against the Viscount's insult, Cyrano ingeniously takes the wind out of his enemy's sails, doing a far better job of insulting himself than the Viscount could ever manage. Although Cyrano is talented with the sword, his greatest asset is his mind, not his bravery. With words, Cyrano "wounds" the Viscount more deeply than sword ever could, implying that the Viscount is a fool who can barely string a sentence together.

CYRANO:
Paternal bounty, in a day, thou'rt sped!

LE BRET:
How live the next month?. . .

CYRANO:
I have nothing left.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Le Bret (speaker)
Page Number: 59
Explanation and Analysis:

At this early stage in the play, Cyrano is a young, popular man, who lavishes money on his friends and well-wishers. And yet as the scene draws to a close, it becomes clear that Cyrano isn't just generous with his money--he's actually reckless, to the point where he's often without the funds to pay for food or shelter. Cyrano's friend, Le Bret, asks Cyrano how he plans to live without any money, and Cyrano doesn't really have a good answer.

Cyrano's devil-may-care attitude toward spending money confirms that he's a born performer. Like any good actor, Cyrano knows how to lose himself in the moment: whether he's fighting a duel in front of a crowd of supporters or throwing away a bag of gold to prove a point (as he's just done), Cyrano doesn't think about the consequences of his actions. For now, Cyrano finds that he can live a cavalier, reckless lifestyle. By the time the play is over, though, Cyrano's combativeness and reckless spending will have caught up with him. The passage foreshadows the dark days ahead for Cyrano--soon enough, he truly will have nothing left.

Act 1, Scene 5 Quotes

LE BRET:
These fops, would-be belligerent,
Will, if you heed them only, turn your head!. . .
Ask people of good sense if you would know
The effect of your fine insolence--

CYRANO (finishing his macaroon):
Enormous!

LE BRET:
The Cardinal. . .

CYRANO (radiant):
The Cardinal--was there?

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Le Bret (speaker)
Page Number: 61
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Le Bret warns Cyrano that his quarrelsome attitude is making him more enemies than friends. Le Bret reminds Cyrano of his behavior the previous night, when he fought a duel in front of a large crowd of people. According to Le Bret, Cardinal Richelieu (in real life, the most powerful man in France at the time), was present for the duel--in other words, Cyrano might be alienating some powerful, influential people by defending his honor.

Le Bret's warning to Cyrano foreshadows the final act of the play, in which Cyrano's reckless behavior finally catches up to him. But for now, Cyrano rejects Le Bret's warnings. For Cyrano, the highest good is his own honor and fame--therefore, whenever anyone attacks his appearance, Cyrano must defend himself, either verbally or militarily, and he even takes delight in performing for powerful people (whether they might be offended or not).

Act 2, Scene 4 Quotes

CYRANO (who has been watching, goes toward Ragueneau):
Lulled by your voice, did you see how they were stuffing themselves?

RAGUENEAU (in a low voice, smiling):
Oh, ay! I see well enough, but I never will seem to look, fearing to
distress them; thus I gain a double pleasure when I recite to them my poems;
for I leave those poor fellows who have not breakfasted free to eat, even
while I gratify my own dearest foible, see you?

CYRANO (clapping him on the shoulder):
Friend, I like you right well!. . .

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Ragueneau (speaker)
Page Number: 86-87
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Cyrano and Ragueneau bond over their common interest in poetry and art. Ragueneau is a popular tavern owner, but he’s not much of a businessman: he allows his patrons to eat for free if they’ll listen to his poetry. Cyrano’s reaction to Ragueneau’s situation is intriguing. He suggests that Ragueneau’s patrons are just taking advantage of him; i.e., they’re not really interested in listening to some tavern owner’s poetry, but just want the free food.

Cyrano’s observations about Ragueneau are important because Ragueneau’s situation parallels his own. Like Cyrano, Ragueneau’s commitment to poetry and romantic ideals lead him to throw away substantive sums of money. Ironically, Cyrano is capable of noticing the flaws in Rageneau’s behavior, but not his own. And at the end of the conversation, Cyrano confirms that he and Ragueneau really are guilty of the same tragic flaw: in spite of his objections, Cyrano admires anyone who savors poetry and performance, especially at the expense of worldly goods.

Act 2, Scene 6 Quotes

ROXANE:
Then you will be his friend?

CYRANO:
I swear!

ROXANE:
And he shall fight no duels, promise!

CYRANO:
None.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane (speaker), Baron Christian de Neuvillette
Page Number: 97
Explanation and Analysis:

In this ironic passage, Roxane (the love of Cyrano’s life) makes Cyrano swear to protect Christian at all times. Roxane has fallen in love with Christian from afar, and wants to make sure that Christian stays safe for her.

The passage is a good example of dramatic irony: this is a comedic scene, because we in the audience realize that Cyrano’s oath to Roxane is agonizing for Cyrano, while Roxane herself has no idea of the truth. In spite of his internal agony, Cyrano bravely agrees to honor Roxane’s wishes—a confirmation of Cyrano’s vast, selfless love for Roxane, as well as his commitment to the Romantic values of honor and loyalty.

Act 2, Scene 8 Quotes

CYRANO:
Well, what if it be my vice,
My pleasure to displease--to love men hate me!
Ah, friend of mine, believe me, I march better
'Neath the cross-fire of glances inimical!
How droll the stains one sees on fine-laced doublets,
From gall of envy, or the poltroon's drivel!

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Le Bret
Page Number: 112
Explanation and Analysis:

Cyrano and his friend Le Bret have a conversation about Cyrano’s “vice”—his willingness to get into big fights, even if the source of the fight is a tiny, meaningless provocation. As we’ve already seen, Cyrano can’t stand anyone making fun of his nose, or even talking about it. Cyrano seems perfectly aware that his habit of dueling with bullies is a little excessive, but he also refuses to change his behavior. Indeed, he claims that he feels better—more like himself, perhaps—when he’s provoked his enemies.

Cyrano’s claims here suggest that combativeness—or perhaps, “panache”—is his tragic flaw; the source of his greatness but also his weakness. Cyrano’s desire to win every argument, to perform for a crowd, and to make a big show of correcting his opponents, are precisely what make him such a fascinating character. But these behaviors also lead to Cyrano’s ultimate undoing (as we’ll see later on). In short, Cyrano is a tragic, romantic hero, undone by the very qualities that make him who he is.

Act 3, Scene 1 Quotes

ROXANE:
You would vex a saint!. . . But 'tis your jealousy.

CYRANO (starting):
What mean you?

ROXANE:
Ay, your poet's jealousy!

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane (speaker), Baron Christian de Neuvillette
Page Number: 130
Explanation and Analysis:

Cyrano and Roxane (with whom Cyrano is secretly in love) talk about the mysterious letters that Roxane has been receiving from Christian. Roxane believes Christian to be the author of these letters—but of course, Cyrano knows the truth. He has been writing all of Christian’s letters, perpetuating the illusion that Christian is the perfect lover for Roxane—brilliant as well as handsome.

In another fine example of dramatic irony, Roxane remains blissfully unaware that Cyrano is in love with her—when Cyrano bitterly derides the author of the letters, Roxane thinks he’s jealous of Christian’s poetic brilliance, not his romantic success.

Act 3, Scene 4 Quotes

CHRISTIAN:
And how know you I cannot speak?--
I am not such a fool when all is said!
I've by your lessons profited. You'll see
I shall know how to speak alone! The devil!
I know at least to clasp her in my arms!
(Seeing Roxane come out from Clomire's house):
--It is she! Cyrano, no!--Leave me not!

Related Characters: Baron Christian de Neuvillette (speaker), Cyrano de Bergerac , Magdalene Robin / Roxane
Page Number: 140
Explanation and Analysis:

Here, Christian shows how awkward and frightened he really is. For a while now, Christian has been sending letters to Roxane. Although the letters have been composed by Cyrano, Christian thinks he’s getting the hang of wooing Roxane, and can manage on his own. Christian brags that he’ll be able to get by without Cyrano’s help—but as soon as he sees Roxane in person, he loses his nerve and begs Cyrano for help.

There’s a strange symbiotic relationship between Christian and Cyrano in the play. Christian is utterly incapable of wooing Roxane on his own—he thinks he can do so, but can’t. Cyrano is equally incapable of wooing his love, as his nose gets in the way (or so he assumes—it's important to note that he never actually tries). Rostand suggests the impossibilities of romance here. It’s impossible to find the “perfect man” who can win Roxane; indeed, the only such “perfect man” in the play is a fiction, a combination of Christian’s appearance and Cyrano’s brain.

Act 3, Scene 6 Quotes

CYRANO:
Ay, it is sweet! Half hidden,--half revealed--
You see the dark folds of my shrouding cloak,
And I, the glimmering whiteness of your dress:
I but a shadow--you a radiance fair!
Know you what such a moment holds for me?
If ever I were eloquent. . .

ROXANE:
You were!

CYRANO:
Yet never till to-night my speech has sprung
Straight from my heart as now it springs.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane
Page Number: 148
Explanation and Analysis:

In this scene, Cyrano woos Roxane the only way he knows how—eloquently, but sightlessly. Speaking to Roxane as she stands at her balcony (a sly nod to the famous scene from Romeo and Juliet), Cyrano pretends to be Christian, and gives Roxane a beautiful speech, claiming that love is better when it is “half hidden.” Although Roxane thinks that “Christian” is being romantic and poetic, Cyrano’s words are quite literal—the only way he can successfully make Roxane fall in love is by standing far away from her, so that she’s not aware of his ugly appearance.

The irony of Cyrano’s speech is that he claims it’s “straight” from his heart, when in reality the speech is a deception. Cyrano sincerely loves Roxane, and yet the only way he can express his love is by using deception, hiding his feelings behind Christian’s handsome façade. In an imperfect, unfair world, some level of deception is the only way to conduct a love affair.

Act 3, Scene 11 Quotes

CYRANO (in a dreamy voice):
What's o'clock?

DE GUICHE:
He's lost his mind, for sure!

CYRANO:
What hour? What country this? What month? What day?

DE GUICHE:
But. . .

CYRANO:
I am stupefied!

DE GUICHE:
Sir!

CYRANO:
Like a bomb
I fell from the moon!

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Count de Guiche (speaker)
Page Number: 162
Explanation and Analysis:

Here Cyrano tricks the Count de Guiche. Outside Roxane’s house, Cyrano needs to delay de Guiche for long enough to allow Roxane the time to marry Christian inside. To provide an appropriate diversion, Cyrano conceals his face and pretends to be a madman who believes he’s fallen from the moon. Cyrano’s words aren't just random, however. They're laced with symbolism, since the moon is a famous symbol of romance—one could say that Cyrano is “falling from the moon” as he performs for de Guiche, since in doing so he’s allowing Roxane to marry someone else, dashing his chances of ever ending up with her.

Cyrano’s performance for de Guiche also demonstrates that Cyrano is capable of putting his talents to good use. We already knew that Cyrano was a theatrical, bombastic person, always willing to act for a willing audience. Here, though, we see Cyrano using his talents for the benefit of his friends, rather than for his own vanity.

Act 3, Scene 12 Quotes

ROXANE:
That he shall be faithful!

CYRANO:
Doubtless, but. . .

ROXANE:
That he will write oft?

CYRANO (pausing):
That, I promise you!

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane (speaker), Baron Christian de Neuvillette
Page Number: 172
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of Act 3, Cyrano and Christian are shipped off to war. Before they go, Roxane makes Cyrano promise her that he'll take care of Christian--to whom Roxane has just been married, much to Cyrano's chagrin. In spite of the fact that Cyrano now has no chance of marrying Roxane, and will have to love Roxane in vain for the rest of his life, he agrees to Roxane's requests, since he's already sworn an oath to protect Christian.

Cyrano's behavior reinforces his honorable character--while he has no practical reason for being loyal to Christian (it's not like protecting Christian is going to win him Roxane), he's a man of his word. At this point in the play, writing letters to Roxane is Cyrano's greatest pleasure--the only way that he can express his true feelings for her (even though he's forced to sign the letters with Christian's name).

Act 4, Scene 1 Quotes

LE BRET:
To think you risk a life so precious. . . for the sake of a letter. . . Thankless one.
(Seeing him turning to enter the tent):
Where are you going?

CYRANO:
I am going to write another.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Le Bret (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane
Page Number: 176
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we meet Cyrano on the battlefield. When he's not fighting, Cyrano spends all his time writing beautiful letters to Roxane, which he signs in Christian's name. As soon as Cyrano delivers one letter (risking his life to do so), he goes back to his tent to write another one.

The passage makes us wonder--why does Cyrano compose so many letters to Roxane, if he knows that none of his letters will ever make her fall in love with him (and will actually just make her love Christian more)? Cyrano is a true romantic--he doesn't dwell on the practicality or the long-term consequences of his actions. His love for Roxane is like an unquenchable thirst, and though his letters to Roxane don't make Roxane love him, they do bring him the joy of expressing his feelings.

Act 4, Scene 3 Quotes

CYRANO:
Ay, for homesickness. A nobler pain than hunger,--'tis of the soul, not of
the body! I am well pleased to see their pain change its viscera. Heart-ache
is better than stomach-ache.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Captain Carbon de Castel-Jaloux
Page Number: 181
Explanation and Analysis:

Although the rest of the army is starving from lack of food, Cyrano seems perfectly content to eat nothing. He plays his troops a lovely song, which makes them remember their hometowns. As the troops cry and sigh, Cyrano points out that homesickness is a greater pain than hunger, and yet a better pain.

We already knew that Cyrano was a lofty idealist--he believes that poetry is more valuable than bread or money. But here on the battlefield, we see the full extent of Cyrano's Romanticism. Cyrano truly believes that ideas and emotions are more important to human life than food or shelter. Cyrano is perfectly willing to endanger his own life in order to protect what he regards as truly important--love, poetry, etc. By the same token, Cyrano believes that one's home--i.e., a feeling of longing and love--is more valuable than food could ever be. Cyrano's beliefs are rather unrealistic, of course (you can't last long without food)--a sign that his way of life can't last forever--but for now they only add to his panache and popularity.

Act 4, Scene 4 Quotes

CYRANO (without lifting his eyes from his book):
And your white scarf?

DE GUICHE (surprised and gratified):
You know that detail?. . . Troth! It happened thus:
While caracoling to recall the troops
For the third charge, a band of fugitives
Bore me with them, close by the hostile ranks:
I was in peril—capture, sudden death!--
When I thought of the good expedient
To loosen and let fall the scarf which told
My military rank; thus I contrived
--Without attention waked--to leave the foes,
And suddenly returning, reinforced
With my own men, to scatter them! And now,
--What say you, Sir?

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Count de Guiche
Related Symbols: The White Scarf
Page Number: 184-185
Explanation and Analysis:

Cyrano's commander, Count de Guiche, is a cowardly man. In the midst of a battle, de Guiche wears a white scarf that makes it clear to everyone that he's a high-ranking officer. But when the battle gets ugly, de Guiche removes his scarf, afraid that it'll draw attention and make him a target for the enemy. Cyrano is clearly disgusted with de Guiche's combination of arrogance and cowardice--he doesn't even look up from his book as he interrogates his commander.

The white scarf is an important symbol in the play, because it connects to the idea of the white "plume" that is the literal meaning of the word "panache." Cyrano is defined by his panache, and it's later revealed in this same scene that he has risked his life precisely to retrieve de Guiche's scarf and embarrass his commander. Thus Rostand symbolically shows that de Guiche entirely lacks panache—he literally casts it aside when the going gets tough—while Cyrano is willing to risk death to maintain it.

Act 4, Scene 10 Quotes

CYRANO (in despair. to Roxane):
He's gone! 'Tis naught!--Oh, you know how he sees
Importance in a trifle!

ROXANE (warmly):
Did he doubt
Of what I said?--Ah, yes, I saw he doubted!

CYRANO (taking her hand):
But are you sure you told him all the truth?

ROXANE:
Yes, I would love him were he. . .

(She hesitates.)

CYRANO:
Does that word
Embarrass you before my face, Roxane?

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane (speaker), Baron Christian de Neuvillette
Page Number: 215
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Cyrano comes extremely close to telling Roxane the truth about her love for Christian. Roxane has come to believe that she now loves Christian entirely for his soul, not his face. Cyrano, of course, is moved by this news--if Roxane is capable of loving Christian's soul, then she might be capable of loving Cyrano, in spite of his ugly face. Thus, Cyrano tries to make completely sure that Roxane loves "Christian's" (actually, Cyrano's) soul.

Even Roxane seem to sense the truth in this passage--the way she hesitates before using the word "ugly," clearly in response to the fact that Cyrano is ugly, suggests that she's really speaking about Cyrano himself, not Christian. It's as if Roxane can sense Cyrano's sincere love for her, despite the fact that previously Cyrano has had to "package" his love in Christian's body.

Act 5, Scene 1 Quotes

ALL THE SISTERS:
He is so droll!--It's cheerful when he comes!--
He teases us!--But we all like him well!--
--We make him pasties of angelica!

SISTER MARTHA:
But, he is not a faithful Catholic!

Related Characters: Sister Martha (speaker), Sister Claire (speaker), Cyrano de Bergerac
Page Number: 226
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final act of the play, Cyrano pays a visit to the nunnery where Roxane has been living ever since her husband's untimely death. The nuns note that Cyrano is a charming (and frequent) visitor to their home. Although he's not a particularly religious person, he's likable and funny, and respects the nuns deeply, even when he teases them.

The nuns' description of Cyrano confirms that Cyrano is just as lively and charming as ever, even though years have passed since we last saw him. Cyrano may not be the most conventionally "moral" person (he's arrogant and quick to fight) but he has an undeniable charm and sense of honor that makes us like and admire him. It's also worth noting that Cyrano's distaste for Catholicism (as per the nuns' description) places him at odds with the order of French society at the time. Catholicism, it's often said, is the branch of Christianity most concerned with order and obedience to a central authority (the Pope)--so it's entirely appropriate that Cyrano the "bad boy" would have his doubts about the faith.

Act 5, Scene 5 Quotes

ROXANE:
Ah!
Things dead, long dead, see! how they rise again!
--Why, why keep silence all these fourteen years,
When, on this letter, which he never wrote,
The tears were your tears?

CYRANO (holding out the letter to her):
The bloodstains were his.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane (speaker), Baron Christian de Neuvillette
Page Number: 243
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Roxane finally realizes the truth about her love for Christian. Cyrano, who's about to die, reads Roxane the letter that he wrote for her on the day Christian died. As Cyrano reads the letter, Roxane recognizes his voice as the voice of the man who seduced her years before. For the past nearly 15 years, Roxane realizes, she has been in love with a fictional creation: a man with Christian's body and Cyrano's mind.

Cyrano's behavior in this passage reinforces the strict moral code that guides his behavior at all times. Roxane asks Cyrano why Cyrano never came forward with the truth after Christian's death--in other words, why Cyrano never told Roxane that she was mourning a fictional creation. Cyrano explains that he didn't want to stomp on Christian's grave--he refused to ruin the illusion of Roxane's love for Christian.

Cyrano's self-control is remarkable. In spite of the fact that Roxane claimed she could love a man for his soul, not his face, and in spite of the fact that Roxane was no longer married to Christian, Cyrano never once tried to woo Roxane. In part, Cyrano refrained from seducing Roxane because he was too frightened (the only reason he's telling her the truth now is because he's about to die), but in part, Cyrano refrained from seducing Roxane out of respect for word and for his old friend--Cyrano swore an oath to Roxane to honor Christian, and he's obeyed that oath for nearly 15 years.

Act 5, Scene 6 Quotes

CYRANO:
That night when 'neath your window Christian spoke
--Under your balcony, you remember? Well!
There was the allegory of my whole life:
I, in the shadow, at the ladder's foot,
While others lightly mount to Love and Fame!
Just! very just!

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Baron Christian de Neuvillette , Magdalene Robin / Roxane
Page Number: 246
Explanation and Analysis:

In the final pages of the play, Cyrano--who's dying--sums up his life. Cyrano has helped Christian woo Roxane by speaking and writing for Christian. Cyrano has, quite literally, been the "brains" of Christian's romance with Roxane. And yet Cyrano has always been denied the rewards of such a romance--he's never been able to express his love for Roxane directly, since at the end of the day, Christian is the handsome one.

Cyrano's complaints of "living in shadow" are both poignant and ironic. While it's true that Cyrano has been relegated to the sidelines during Christian's romance with Roxane, he certainly hasn't spent his "whole life" on the sidelines--on the contrary, he's been in full-view, performing for an audience of thousands. Cyrano is a born showman, who loves to entertain his many fans. Hence the contradiction of Cyrano's life: even though Cyrano is completely comfortable with himself, he's been forced to hide his true identity in the one arena where true identity really matters--love.

CYRANO:
Despite you there is yet one thing
I hold against you all, and when, to-night,
I enter Christ's fair courts, and, lowly bowed,
Sweep with doffed casque the heavens' threshold blue,
One thing is left, that, void of stain or smutch,
I bear away despite you.

ROXANE (bending and kissing his forehead):
'Tis?. . .

CYRANO (opening his eyes, recognizing her, and smiling):
My panache.

Related Characters: Cyrano de Bergerac (speaker), Magdalene Robin / Roxane (speaker)
Page Number: 250
Explanation and Analysis:

At the very end of the play, Cyrano dies--the victim of a mysterious attack. Over the years, Cyrano's arrogance and pride have made him many enemies--he's fought and won so many duels that everyone who doesn't love him despises him. Eventually, Cyrano's combative nature catches up to him, and he's killed as an act of revenge.

And yet Cyrano doesn't regret the life he's lived, despite the fact that he's "failed" in love (for all practical purposes) and his lifestyle has brought him to an untimely death. On the contrary, he glorifies his own panache--i.e., the pride, daring, and cavalier manner for which he's famous. Cyrano is, in other words, a true Romantic hero: although his inborn nature has brought him a lot of danger and sadness, he's always refused to live any other way. Cyrano is so confident in his ideals--the ideals of bravery, wit, and honor--that he's spent a lifetime defending them. Like any good Romantic hero, Cyrano dies young, but his reputation lives on after him: we, the audience members, continue to honor Cyrano's panache more than a hundred years after the play was written--as even the word "panache" was popularized by Rostand and his famous character.

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Cyrano de Bergerac Character Timeline in Cyrano De Bergerac

The timeline below shows where the character Cyrano de Bergerac appears in Cyrano De Bergerac. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Act 1, Scene 2
Appearances and Identity Theme Icon
The Many Kinds of Love Theme Icon
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...and a famous tavern-keeper. Ragueneau approaches Ligniere and asks him if he’s seen Monsieur de Cyrano. Ligniere says that he hasn’t, but then he begins to praise Cyrano. He describes Cyrano... (full context)
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...the other Marquises as Le Bret. Cuigy explains that Le Bret is a friend of Cyrano. Le Bret explains to the Marquises that Cyrano is a poet, a soldier, a philosopher,... (full context)
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...before. Ligniere explains that the woman’s name is Magdalene Robin, or Roxane, a cousin of Cyrano. (full context)
Act 1, Scene 3
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...sitting on the stage, watching. As the music plays, Le Bret whispers to Ragueneau that Cyrano has not come to the hotel that night. On the stage, the actor Montfluery walks... (full context)
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Cyrano de Bergerac emerges from the crowd and climbs onto the stage. He has a splendid... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 4
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Cyrano stands on the stage, confronting Montfluery, whom he’s forbidden from appearing in the Hotel for... (full context)
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Cyrano draws his sword and says he’ll give Montfluery until the count of three to get... (full context)
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A young man in the audience asks Cyrano, who climbs off the stage back into the crowd, why he hates Montfluery so much.... (full context)
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A “Bore” of a theatergoer asks Cyrano if Cyrano has a patron (someone who supports him financially). Cyrano replies that he has... (full context)
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As Cyrano talks, the Bore can’t help but stare at his enormous nose. Cyrano asks the Bore... (full context)
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Cyrano walks through the Hotel hall. The Viscount Valvert, amused by the spectacle, goes up to... (full context)
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Valvert glares at Cyrano, and draws his sword. Cyrano does the same: they must duel now. The Viscount hisses... (full context)
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The duel begins. Valvert fights aggressively, but Cyrano parries his attacks easily. As the Viscount grows more and more frustrated, Cyrano composes a... (full context)
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Cyrano sheaths his sword and goes to greet his friend Le Bret. The Marquises approach Cyrano... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 5
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Cyrano and Le Bret sit down to eat, Cyrano having just accepted free food from a... (full context)
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Le Bret demands to know why Cyrano despises Montfluery so much. Cyrano explains that Montfluery has been ogling a woman for whom... (full context)
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As Le Bret and Cyrano talk, a Duenna (a serving woman) approaches them and tells Cyrano that she has come... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 6
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The Duenna tells Cyrano that Roxane has sent her to summon Cyrano to Roxane’s chambers tomorrow after she’s come... (full context)
Act 1, Scene 7
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Cyrano has just gotten word that he’s to meet with Roxane, his cousin and love, tomorrow... (full context)
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Cyrano marches Ligniere out of the Hotel, prepared to fight any opponent. As he walks into... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 1
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...(still set in Paris in the year 1640) takes place in Ragueneau’s pastry shop, where Cyrano has agreed to meet the love of his life, his cousin Roxane. Inside the shop,... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 3
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Cyrano de Bergerac enters Ragueneau’s pastry shop, and tells Ragueneau that he has one hour to... (full context)
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Cyrano sits in the shop. To pass the time, he decides to write love verses to... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 4
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Cyrano sits, writing a love-letter in verse for Roxane. As he writes, a group of poets,... (full context)
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...they listen, the poets eat Ragueneau’s pastries and tarts—when Ragueneau is finished, they sit down. Cyrano asks Ragueneau how he can give the poets so much free food. Ragueneau replies that... (full context)
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Cyrano and Ragueneau notice that Lise is speaking “tenderly” to a shop patron, a young Musketeer.... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 5
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Cyrano sits in the shop. Suddenly, Roxane walks in, wearing a mask and accompanied by the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 6
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Cyrano greets Roxane, who takes off her mask. Roxane tells Cyrano that she has come to... (full context)
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Roxane tells Cyrano that she needs a confidant. She begs Cyrano to once again be the friend who’d... (full context)
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Cyrano asks Roxane what she sees in Christian. She explains that he is very handsome, but... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 7
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As Cyrano sits alone in the shop, contemplating what Roxane has just told him, Ragueneau and the... (full context)
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The Count de Guiche enters the room. De Guiche says that he’s gotten word that Cyrano performed a feat of great valor the previous night. Cyrano stands and addresses the Count... (full context)
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De Guiche is shocked by Cyrano’s abruptly confrontational behavior. He asks Cyrano if he’s ever read Don Quixote, and Cyrano says... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 8
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Cyrano sits in the pastry shop with his cadets, Ragueneau, and Lise. The cadets ask Cyrano... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 9
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In the pastry shop, the cadets call for Cyrano to tell the story of his violent clash with the soldiers the previous night. Cyrano... (full context)
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...inexperienced boy. He also warns Christian never to say the word “nose” in front of Cyrano. Another cadet chimes in, explaining that in the past Cyrano has killed men because they... (full context)
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Cyrano begins to tell the cadets the story of his conflict with the soldiers the previous... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 10
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The pastry shop is empty except for Cyrano and Christian. Cyrano turns to Christian, who has been making fun of his nose in... (full context)
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Cyrano explains that Roxane wants Christian to send her a letter. Christian finds this intimidating—while he’s... (full context)
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Cyrano then has an idea. Together, he and Christian will woo Roxane. Christian will be the... (full context)
Act 2, Scene 11
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Outside the pastry shop, the cadets are gathered, waiting to hear the sounds of Cyrano attacking Christian for insulting his nose. One cadet pokes his head into a window and... (full context)
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The group concludes that Cyrano no longer minds people talking about his nose. Emboldened, a Second Musketeer goes up to... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 1
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...Musketeer. Ragueneau was so devastated by the news that he tried to hang himself. Luckily, Cyrano walked in on Ragueneau just as he was about to die. Cyrano used his sword... (full context)
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...who will discuss the “Tender Passion.” Suddenly, the sound of lute music fills the air. Cyrano enters, followed by two musicians. Cyrano hums along with the music, but corrects the musicians... (full context)
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The Duenna greets Cyrano and asks him why he’s walking with lute players. Cyrano explains that he’s won a... (full context)
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Roxane emerges from her home and greets Cyrano. She gushes that Christian is brilliant and handsome—she has read “his” letter, which, she believes,... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 2
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...he’s going off to battle, he’ll be joined by the Guards regiment—the group headed by Cyrano. Roxane is horrified, as this means that Christian will be sent off to fight, as... (full context)
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Roxane asks de Guiche if he’s ordering Cyrano and his troops into battle out of spite for Cyrano’s boasting and disrespect. De Guiche... (full context)
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...calls the Duenna and tells her to keep secret what she’s arranged with the Count. Cyrano must never know that Roxane has deprived him of a chance to earn honor in... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 3
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After de Guiche leaves, Cyrano emerges from the house, and Roxane, the Duenna, and Cyrano walk across the square to... (full context)
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Roxane tells Cyrano that she’s sure Christian will attend the lecture. She tells him that she’s looking forward... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 4
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Outside Clomire’s house, Cyrano and Christian discuss Roxane. Christian insists that he’s going to wait outside the house for... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 5
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...his mistake. Amused and disappointed, Roxane walks back into her house. As Roxane walks away, Cyrano emerges from behind the wall, whispering to himself, ”It is successful!” (full context)
Act 3, Scene 6
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Cyrano walks toward Christian, who has just done poorly in his first conversation with Roxane. Christian... (full context)
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...Roxane replies disdainfully that she doesn’t care to speak to him further. Christian, prompted by Cyrano, tells Roxane that he loves her more and more every day. His poor heart, he... (full context)
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Cyrano continues wooing Roxane. He praises Roxane’s beautiful eyes and her sweet voice. As he goes... (full context)
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After Cyrano’s speech, Roxane begins to weep with love for “Christian.” Christian himself then calls out, “A... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 7
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A Monk finds Cyrano and Christian standing outside Roxane’s house. The Monk tells the men he’s looking for the... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 8
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Alone outside Roxane’s house, Cyrano and Christian discuss how to proceed with wooing Roxane. Christian begs Cyrano to speak more... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 9
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Cyrano resumes speaking to Roxane, who’s standing at a high window. Imitating Christian once again, Cyrano... (full context)
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...the air—the Monk is back. Roxane and Christian look down from the window, and see—of course—Cyrano standing below. Christian, feigning surprise, greets Cyrano. Cyrano pretends to have been looking for Christian.... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 10
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...Monk walks through the square, complaining that he’s still looking for Roxane’s home. He greets Cyrano, and then Roxane, Christian, and Ragueneau emerge from Roxane’s house. Roxane asks what’s going on,... (full context)
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...and Christian inside her house so that they can be married at once. Roxane tells Cyrano to keep watch outside, since she now knows the Count will be visiting her that... (full context)
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Cyrano stands outside, frustrated by Roxane and Christian’s marriage. Then he hears sad music playing—there is... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 11
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...Guiche enters the square, wearing a mask, and wonders aloud where the Monk could be. Cyrano has a sudden flash of inspiration. He pulls his hat low over his face, jumps... (full context)
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Cyrano continues acting crazy, distracting de Guiche from the wedding taking place inside Roxane’s house. He... (full context)
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...claps and cheers from inside the house. Recognizing that Roxane and Christian are now married, Cyrano removes his hat and sheds his accent, coolly informing the Count that Roxane is now... (full context)
Act 3, Scene 12
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Outside Roxane’s house, the Count de Guiche stares amazedly at Cyrano, Roxane, and Christian. De Guiche gives credit where it’s due, and compliments Cyrano for his... (full context)
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Spitefully, the Count de Guiche tells Cyrano and Christian that he’ll now arrange for the two of them to be shipped off... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 1
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...there is a famine in the camp. As they talk, they hear someone approaching—it is Cyrano de Bergerac. Cyrano has just come from delivering his latest letter to Roxane. Cyrano explains... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 2
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...of Arras, the cadets moan with hunger. Captain Carbon walks around the camp, softly calling Cyrano’s name. As Carbon walks around, the army’s resident hunters, the Angler (fisherman) and the Sportsman,... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 3
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As Captain Carbon goes around searching for Cyrano, Cyrano emerges from a tent and greets Carbon. Cyrano looks at the band of hungry... (full context)
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Cyrano seats himself among his cadets. He tells them to take their minds off food by... (full context)
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...The other cadets moan and groan—de Guiche is regarded as a snob and a bully. Cyrano tells his men to play cards and dice, so that they don’t seem miserable before... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 4
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...soldier who disobeys or mocks him, reminding everyone of his feats of strength in battle. Cyrano, without lifting his eyes from his book, asks de Guiche about the white scarf that... (full context)
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De Guiche reluctantly accepts the white scarf from Cyrano. He then waves the scarf to a “useful spy” in his employ, stationed far away... (full context)
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Cyrano and Carbon must now plan their defense against the enemy. Cyrano calls for Christian, who’s... (full context)
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...sentinel shouts that the carriage is in the service of the King of France. Quickly, Cyrano orders his troops to stand up straight as a show of respect for whomever the... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 5
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...at the camp. Christian rushes forward to embrace Roxane, and asks her why she’s here. Cyrano mutters to himself, “dare I look at her?” Roxane explains that she’s arranged for a... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 6
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Christian and Cyrano beg Roxane to leave the camp before a battle breaks out. Roxane refuses. The other... (full context)
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...calls out that the Count de Guiche is about to return from his cannon inspection. Cyrano yells for the soldiers to hide their food and wine. Immediately all the soldiers hide... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 7
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...reinforce the cadets’ defense. De Guiche leads Roxane to the pikemen. While Roxane is away, Cyrano tells Christian to be careful while talking to Roxane—if Roxane talks about his letters, he... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 8
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Christian and Roxane talk to each other while Cyrano, Carbon, and de Guiche busily shout orders. Christian asks Roxane why she’s come to see... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 9
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Christian runs to speak to Cyrano. He explains that Roxane doesn’t love him at all—she only loves the letters he claims... (full context)
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Christian tells Cyrano that they must let Roxane choose between them. Cyrano says this is ludicrous—he can’t bear... (full context)
Act 4, Scene 10
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Cyrano stands with Roxane. Roxane asks Cyrano what’s wrong with Christian. She guesses that he has... (full context)
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Cyrano, seemingly satisfied that Roxane is capable of loving a man for his wit, not his... (full context)
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A group of cadets walk up to the camp, carrying something. Cyrano whispers to Roxane that Christian “was” a great, noble man. Roxane realizes that the cadets... (full context)
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Roxane crouches over Christian’s body while everyone else—except Cyrano—goes off to fight. Roxane says that Christian was a brilliant, beautiful, and wise man. Cyrano... (full context)
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Cyrano, still holding Roxane, calls for the Count de Guiche. He tells de Guiche to take... (full context)
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Cyrano draws his weapon and joins the battle. He shouts to Captain Carbon that he has... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 1
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...Mother Marguerite, the superior of the nuns, says she’s going to mention the incident to Cyrano. The nuns discuss how Cyrano has come to their convent to pray every single Saturday... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 2
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...to Christian, her dead husband, but adds that she “forgives” de Guiche. She mentions that Cyrano comes to see her often. (full context)
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...talk, Le Bret arrives at the convent. Le Bret greets Roxane and tells her that Cyrano has become highly unpopular in the city. His witty insults have made him endless enemies,... (full context)
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...aside Le Bret and tells him a secret: there are those who plot to kill Cyrano. Since Cyrano is coming to the convent today, Le Bret says that he’ll warn Cyrano. (full context)
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...that Ragueneau has come to the convent. Roxane tells de Guiche and Le Bret that Cyrano has fallen on hard times—he’s worked a number of odd jobs in recent years, even... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 3
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Ragueneau arrives at the convent and explains to Le Bret that Cyrano has been attacked. While Cyrano was walking from a building, someone dropped a large piece... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 4
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Roxane stands in her convent, noting that Cyrano should be here by now—he’s always very punctual with his visits. Suddenly, a nun announces... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 5
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Cyrano de Bergerac approaches Roxane. He’s very pale, and wears his hat low on his head... (full context)
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Roxane asks Cyrano if he has anything to report from the outside world. Cyrano gives Roxane news about... (full context)
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Roxane produces “Christian’s” letter—the letter that was stained with blood on the day Christian died. Cyrano begs Roxane to let him read Christian’s letter. Roxane agrees. Cyrano reads the letter out... (full context)
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Roxane then realizes the truth: it was Cyrano who wooed her fifteen years ago, using his wit and the power of his voice.... (full context)
Act 5, Scene 6
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Le Bret and Ragueneau stare at Cyrano, shocked to see their friend in so much pain and suffering. They tell Roxane the... (full context)
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Cyrano turns to Roxane and tells her the truth: on the night that Christian appeared outside... (full context)
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Cyrano, falling to the ground, tells Roxane that he wants her to mourn him at the... (full context)
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Suddenly, Cyrano jumps up from the ground, drawing his sword and vowing never to surrender to death... (full context)
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Roxane leans over Cyrano, whose eyes are closed, and asks him what “thing” he’s referring to—what he has that... (full context)