Open your eyes, Le Bret. What admiration
Could possibly survive the sight of my profile?
Act 1, scene 6
Le Bret discovers that Cyrano loves Roxane and advises him to tell her. Cyrano says these words in reply. They reveal his absolute conviction that no woman could ever love him because of his huge nose. In fact, Cyrano is proven wrong. When Roxane realizes that the wonderful words that won her heart were written by Cyrano and not Christian, she declares that she has always loved one man: Cyrano. Tragically, by then, Cyrano is dying. His lack of self-confidence has robbed him of the chance of being united with the woman he loves.
Cyrano [to the soubrette]:
You asked what need to send a hundred men
To punish one poor poet? I reply,
They knew that poet was a friend of mine.
Act 1, scene 7
Cyrano explains to a soubrette (an actress playing the part of a pert, lively woman) who the nobleman whom the poet Lignière offended by writing a satire has sent such a large number of men to ambush him. Cyrano says the nobleman knew that Lignière was a friend of his. The speech shows the extent of Cyrano’s courage, skill with a sword, and bravado, which enables him to relish fighting a hundred men at once. The fact that Cyrano does successfully fight off the men shows that he is no mere boaster, but can back up his words with actions. Once he has done so, he is modest about his achievements. It is left to others to find out what he has done and congratulate him.
He’s proud, brave, noble, handsome . . .
Cyrano: [springing to his feet, turning pale] Handsome!
Why, what’s the matter?
Cyrano: Nothing, just this hand.
Act 2, scene 6
Roxane describes the man she loves to Cyrano. Up to the word “handsome,” Cyrano is able to believe that she is talking about him. But so convinced is Cyrano of his extreme ugliness that the minute Roxane uses this word, he knows that she cannot be talking about him. He recoils in physical pain from this realization, and when Roxane asks him what the matter is, pretends that an injury to his hand is bothering him. This is the first opportunity of many that Cyrano passes over to tell Roxane the truth about his love.
It’s quite the thing now to support a poet –
Will you accept my patronage?
Cyrano: No, no one’s.
Act 2, scene 7
This interchange emphasizes Cyrano’s lifelong determination to live life according to his own rules and standards, without obligation to anyone. It is a decision that enables him to maintain his integrity, but it costs him a great deal in terms of worldly success. In the final Act, it becomes clear that Cyrano is poor, often hungry, and vulnerable to the many enemies he has made through penning his satirical attacks. De Guiche, on the other hand, is successful and has everything he wants, though he admits that he has had to compromise his integrity somewhat.
Cyrano: . . . Together we
Can make the perfect man: your looks, my voice.
Act 2, scene 10
Cyrano speaks these lines to Christian after Christian hears of Roxane’s love for him. The handsome Christian feels that he is so stupid that Roxane will lose interest in him the moment he speaks to her. The intelligent Cyrano secretly loves Roxane but is convinced that she will be repulsed by his ugliness. In these lines, Cyrano proposes that he join his eloquence to Christian’s good looks to create the perfect romantic hero for Roxane.
Roxane: If overnight
You lost your beauty . . .
Christian: d love me ugly?
Ugly, I swear it!
Christian [aside]: There!
Now are you happy, darling?
Christian [almost choking]: Yes. Excuse me
Just for a moment.
Act 4, scene 8
This is one of the most heavily ironic scenes in the play. Roxane has come to the battlefield to tell Christian the wonderful news that she does not love him for his beauty, but for his soul. However, far from being elated, Christian is miserable at this news, as he realizes that Roxane loves Cyrano, and that his own gift of beauty is irrelevant to her. Shortly after this revelation, he goes out onto the battlefield and is killed. His death is fitting, as there is nothing left for him to live for.
You’d love him just the same?
Roxane: And more, perhaps.
Cyrano [to himself]:
It is true! God! Is this my chance?
[To her]Roxane . . .
[Le Bret rushes on.]
Le Bret [sotto voce]:
Cyrano . . .
Cyrano [turning to him]
What is it?
Le Bret: Shh!
[He whispers to Cyrano.]
Cyrano [in anguish]: Too late!
Act 4, scene 10
Roxane tells Cyrano the news that she came to the battlefield to tell Christian: that she would love him even if he were ugly. Cyrano is as elated as Christian was miserable at the revelation, as he thinks he has a chance to win her love. But at that moment, Le Bret runs in to tell Cyrano that Christian has been killed. Cyrano is desperate, as he feels that he can never now tell Roxane the truth about his love for her, and the ruse that he concocted with Christian to win her. To tell her would dishonor his dead friend’s memory and make a mockery of her mourning for her husband. The sudden turn of events changes what should be the climax of Cyrano’s love into a cruel irony. Cyrano is forever trapped in the deception he thought up to win Roxane for Christian.
Roxane [putting her hand on his shoulder]:But it’s dark!
How can you see to read?
[Cyrano starts, turns round, sees her so close to him, trembles, lowers his head. A long pause. Then, slowly, clasping her hands, Roxane speaks.]
Roxane: For fourteen years
You’ve played the old friend, come to amuse me . . .
No, Roxane, no!
Act 5, scene 5
Cyrano, dying, visits Roxane for the last time. He asks to see the last letter that Christian wrote to her, which she keeps next to her heart. He speaks the words in the letter, but as it grows darker, Roxane realizes that he cannot be reading the words on the page; he must know them off by heart, because they are his words. She knows that it is Cyrano, not Christian, who was her eloquent lover and who won her heart, and she knows that she has loved Cyrano for all these years.
Cyrano [giving her back the letter]:
The tears were mine, but Christian shed the blood.
Act 5, scene 5
In reply to Roxane’s question about why he has kept silent about the fact that he, and not Christian, wrote the love letters to her, Cyrano admits that the tearstains on Roxane’s letter are his own, but the bloodstains are Christian’s. Cyrano is pointing out that Christian died for the love of Roxane, and that therefore, Cyrano could not dishonor his memory by pointing out that Christian never wrote the words that Roxane holds so dear. Cyrano has shown loyalty to his friend even beyond his death, to the extent that he has sacrificed his own happiness out of respect to his memory.
I only ever loved one man, and now
I’m losing him again!
Act 5, scene 6
Roxane realized before she went to Arras to see Christian that she loved only Christian’s “soul” and that his looks were irrelevant. Christian’s death marked the first time she lost the man she loved, though she did not know at the time what Christian had just discovered, that it was Cyrano whom she loved. Now, Roxane has learned the truth about Cyrano’s and Christian’s ruse to woo her as a composite lover, using Cyrano’s eloquence and Christian’s good looks. She knows that for all these years, she has only loved one man: Cyrano. But her realization comes too late, for Cyrano is dying. For the second time, she is losing the man she loves.