Some of this is borrowed from thought.com. The end is all mine. It is all about love. Romantic love. Love of wit. Love of words, and tempo, and a soul that is good and pure and well meaning. It is all about love. Outward appearance, and inner beauty. You must look it up on you tube, because to truly feel the magnificence of this scene, to feel the full impact, you need to hear Hose Ferrer brilliantly speak the lines.
Edmond Rostand’s play, Cyrano de Bergerac, was written in 1897 and set in France in the 1640s. The play revolves around a love triangle that involves Cyrano de Bergerac, a multi-talented cadet who is a skilled duelist and a poet but has an unusually large nose. Cyrano’s nose separates him from everyone else in the play physically and also symbolizes his uniqueness.
In Act One, Scene 4, our romantic hero is at the theater.
He has just bullied a blustering actor off of the stage as well as an audience member. Considering him a nuisance, a wealthy and haughty viscount goes up to Cyrano and declares, “Sir, you have a very big nose!”
Cyrano is unimpressed with the insult and follows up with a monologue of far wittier insults about his own nose. Cyrano’s humorous monologue about his nose is a crowd-pleaser and an important piece of character development, let’s delve into it.
|THE VISCOUNT: No one? But wait! I’ll treat him to. . .one of my quips!. . .
See here!. . . (He goes up to Cyrano, who is watching him, and with a conceited air): 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!
DE GUICHE (trying to draw away the dismayed viscount):
THE VISCOUNT (choking with rage): Hear his arrogance!
CYRANO: True; all my elegances are within.
Unfazed by a viscount poking fun at his nose, Cyrano points out that the viscount’s remarks were unimaginative and sarcastically tries to help him by making fun of his own nose in a variety of tones. Cyrano makes it dramatically extensive to prove how unoriginal the viscount is compared to himself. To really drive it home, Cyrano ends the monologue by saying the viscount could have made fun of Cyrano in so many different ways, but “unfortunately, you’re totally witless and a man of very few letters.”
To understand the importance of this monologue, some plot background is needed. Cyrano is in love with Roxane, a beautiful and smart woman. Although he is a confident extrovert, Cyrano’s one source of doubt is his nose. He believes his nose prevents him from being seen as handsome by any woman, especially Roxane. This is why Cyrano is not upfront with Roxane about how he feels, which leads to a love triangle that is the basis on the play.
In making fun of his own nose with a monologue, Cyrano acknowledges that his nose is his Achilles heel, while at the same time establishing his talent for wit and poetry as incomparable to others. In the end, his intellect outshines his physical appearance.
I believe this is a timeless theme. It is as appropriate today as it was when it was written. It not only talks of how we are often focused on external appearances, but also how people are ridiculed and bullied and judged because of outward appearance (or practice or color or religion or sexual orientation, etc. ad nauseum) and how it is what is inside that matters. Beauty and the beast, same theme. Cyrano is an exquisitely beautiful soul, if tearfully tragic.
Why do I feel such a kinship with Cyrano? I too, have a large proboscus. I too, have been made fun of as a child and know the burn of ridicule. Alas, I did not possess such speed of wit and response. Nor could I pick up a foil, and “thrust home” as he would say as he ran his foil through his opponent.
And, alas, I too, am guilty of ridiculing others for their outward appearance (not in recent years, as with age a little wisdom), and I, too, base my sense of beautiful often with overemphasis upon physical appearances.
I am also guilty in the following. Just “run me through” now, for my conscience will never forget. Emilee always had issues with body image, and her weight would fluctuate up and down, she could go from thin (anorexically) to moderate, to heavy, and back and forth.
She would ask if I still loved her, and early on, I said I will always love you, but my attraction level may change as your appearance changes. (Okay, Okay, it IS ON MY PAGE OF REGRETS AND ***HOLE THINGS I HAVE SAID AND DONE). Needless to say, that was not a winning response to her question nor a soothing balm to her fears. Being a victim of childhood and adult trauma, body image was always an issue. I thought I was being honest. Honest is NOT always the best policy.
Alas, I would also love the wit and spontaneity of words to construct impromtu on the fly, and believe me from time to time I try.
But not with such grace and compose, unless of course it is in prose, but it is with flippant pique I digress,
In saying that my discourse is less, less than Cyrano master of poetry and flourish of eloquence, or is it elegance I speak,
As his humanity regardless of his looks doth shine, and forgive me if I wish his speedy wit and frothy verse were mine.
Life After Emilee, on the loss of my wife to pancreatic cancer. I’m not accepting comments right now but please feel free to get in touch via my Contact page.