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MonkeyNotes-Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand
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Notes

The autumn motif, foreshadowing death, continues in scene 5. Roxane comments on the faded colors of her skeins of silk thread, a reflection of the fading Cyrano who has just entered in bandages. Cyrano also comments on the falling red leaves, as they gracefully float to the ground. When Roxane scolds him for being late, he says that an old acquaintance has delayed him.

For a moment, Sister Marthe's presence brightens scene 5. When she enters, Cyrano teases with her, as usual. Then, however, she realizes Cyrano's condition and is shocked. He begs her not to tell Roxane about it. Believing him to be hungry, she says that she will bring him a bowl of soup. Cyrano does not think he will be alive to enjoy it. As a result, he asks her to pray for him.

In an effort to please Roxane, Cyrano tries to tell her the news from Paris. He delivers the mundane events in typical Cyrano style, which makes the news seem dramatic. The effort of speaking, however, exhausts him, and he briefly faints. When Roxane rushes to his aid, he explains that he suffers from an old wound received at Arras. She responds that she was also wounded at Arras, and points the Christian's final letter to her, which she treasures by her heart. Cyrano, wanting the truth to be revealed before he dies, asks her if he can see the letter.

When Cyrano "reads" the letter, it is obvious that he recites it from memory. Suddenly Roxane realizes that Cyrano is the one who has composed the letters from Christian and expressed his genuine and deep-felt love. In truth, she has been loving the wrong man for all these years. When she confronts him about it, Cyrano at first denies her charges. As she presses him further, Cyrano seems to be on the point of explaining why he has done it; ironically, he is stopped by the arrival of Le Bret and Ragueneau. Both men are tremendously concerned about Cyrano exerting himself too much.

When Ragueneau tells Cyrano that Moliere has stolen some of his writing, he does not seem to mind. He states that during his entire life, he has given others words and ideas to make them successful. It is a clear reference to what he has willingly done for Christian. He also states the irony of the fact that he was ambushed from the rear instead of being struck down by a sword. He sadly summarizes that he has been a failure in life and death. Roxane tries to comfort him, saying that she loves him and apologizing for causing him misery. He responds by thanking her for her friendship and confessing that he had never known feminine sweetness until he met her, for his mother found him unattractive and he did not have a sister. He then compares the love between Roxane and himself to the tale of "Beauty and the Beast;" it is an anachronism on Rostand's part, for the tale was written after Cyrano's death.


As Cyrano accepts dying, he hopes that in "paradise" he will find Socrates, the great Greek philosopher, and Galileo, the great Renaissance scientist. Cyrano identifies with them, for both men had challenged the existing tradition of wisdom to take man forward to a greater awareness of the world in which he lived. As Le Bret mourns the sad end of Cyrano's genius, Cyrano adds the name of Copernicus to his list, saying that he was another great mind, who was sacrificed and silenced. Then Cyrano recites his epitaph, pointing out that he has lived life, following the white plume of integrity while fighting lies, cowardice, compromise, prejudice, and stupidity.

In keeping with the cyclical pattern of the play, Cyrano dies, as he had entered in the first scene standing up to fight death. Only unlike his fight at the theatre, he knows he will not be successful this time.

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MonkeyNotes-Cyrano De Bergerac by Edmond Rostand

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