Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac Art and Culture Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
The Post occupied by the Company of Carbon de Castel-Jaloux at the Siege of Arras. (IV. stage directions)
Again, Rostand gets his facts correct. The historical Cyrano really did fight at the siege of Arras in 1640.
DE GUICHE (To the Cadets) I can afford Your little hates. My conduct under fire Is well known. It was only yesterday I drove the Count de Bucquoi from Bapaume, Pouring my men down like an avalanche, I myself led the charge – CYRANO (Without looking up from his book.) And your white scarf? DE GUICHE (Surprised and gratified) You heard that episode? Yes – rallying My men for the third time, I found myself Carried among a crowd of fugitives Into the enemy’s lines. I was in danger Of being shot or captured; but I thought Quickly – took off and flung away the scarf That marked my military rank – and so Being inconspicuous, escaped among My own force, rallied them, returned again And won the day!... (IV. 139-154)
This episode about Comte de Guiche’s white scarf is a true story and his victory earned him fame throughout the French army. Rostand, however, twists it so that de Guiche’s act can be read as cowardly – as Cyrano interprets it.
CYRANO But how Did you come through? ROXANE Why, through the Spanish lines Of course! THE FIRST CADET They let you pass? – DE GUICHE What did you say? How did you manage? LE BRET Yes, that must have been Difficult! ROXANE No – I simply drove along. Now and then some hidalgo scowled at me And I smiled back – my best smile; whereupon, The Spaniards being (without prejudice To the French) the most polished gentleman In the world – I passed! CARBON Certainly that smile Should be a passport? Did they never ask Your errand or your destination? ROXANE Oh, Frequently! Then I drooped my eyes and said: "I have a lover…" Whereupon, the Spaniard With an air of ferocious dignity Would close the carriage door – with such a gesture As any king might envy, wave aside The muskets that were leveled at my breast, Fall back three paces, equally superb In grace and gloom, draw himself up, thrust forth A spur under his cloak, sweeping the air With his long plumes, bow very low, and say: "Pass, Senorita!" (IV. 250-272)
The Spaniards’ gallant attitude towards Roxane is in keeping with the chivalrous spirit of medieval romances. Thus, it seems that the French drew from such chivalrous works to enrich their own literature. Depicting the Spaniards in such a favorable light is also in Rostand’s favor, since he was himself one-quarter Spanish and admired Spain all his life.