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MonkeyNotes-Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
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Notes

Scene four pictures Cyrano as a blustering bully. After rudely interrupting Montfleury, he repeatedly orders him to leave the stage. When the actor is finally driven away, Cyrano hurls insults at him, as well as at the dramatist of the play. When Valvert tries to silence Cyrano by criticizing his nose, Cyrano challenges him to a duel, which he will fight while composing and citing a ballad. While the two fence, Cyrano lunges at Valvert and injures him. As the audience watches Cyrano's performance, they are initially outraged by his high handedness; however, their attitude soon changes from antagonism to admiration, and they applaud Cyrano as Valvert is led off the stage.

This transition of the audience from hostility to admiration is achieved in steps. They are initially outraged when Cyrano interrupts Montfleury; but they hear him when he explains that the actor's performance was deplorable, for he put wrong emphasis on the lines. They also listen as Cyrano criticizes Baro, the dramatist, claiming the poetry of the play is second-rate. The audience has to agree, for the opening lines of verse, spoken by Montfleury, are very trite. Cyrano also sways the audience to his side with his poetic reply to the objection of the intellectually pretentious female patrons. In addition,

Cyrano entertains the audience with his wit as he gives the various ways in which one can describe his nose. This ability to laugh at his own deformity begins to charm the audience, even though it hides Cyrano's fear that he will never find a woman who can love his ugly appearance. Finally, when Cyrano defeats the obnoxious Valvert, while composing verse that is good, the audience is won to his side.


The duel between Cyrano and Valvert is truly masterful -- a cerebral melodrama. The ballad that Cyrano composes while he fights contains the "ottava vima" stanza form. Its modified rhyme scheme, similar to the regular couplets in which the play is composed, adds an appropriate beat to the movement of fencing. In addition, it is ironically significant that the "ottava vima" stanza form is associated with Lord Byron's "Don Juan." In complete contrast to Cyrano, Don Juan was a handsome man who attracted all the young women; Cyrano thinks he can never win the heart of any woman.

Cyrano's lines are filled with clever and meaningful figures of speech that help the audience relate to him. He personifies his sword and calls Montfleury, a "boil" on the theater. In addition, Cyrano's courteous and chivalrous ways win the admiration of the refreshment waitress, who offers Cyrano free food since he has given away all his money to purchase back the theater tickets of the audience. By the end of the scene, Rostand has convinced his audience and the reader that Cyrano may be a little outlandish and extreme, but he is a good person at heart. After all, the real reason he stopped the show was because he did not want the audience to endure bad drama. He also voluntarily buys back the tickets of all the patrons who where cheated out of a show even though he complete destroys him financially.

In the next act, the audience and reader will learn that there is another reason for Cyrano to banish Montfleury from the stage. Slowly but surely, Rostand will convince the audience that Cyrano speaks the truth when he says he has a clear conscience, untarnished honor, independence, frankness, sharp wit, and adherence to truth. By the end of the fourth scene, the audience already realizes that Cyrano is a talented poet who is smart, witty, talented, brave, sensitive, determined, and impetuous. He is also terribly self-conscious about his large nose.

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MonkeyNotes-Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

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