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Cyrano de Bergerac

Cyrano de Bergerac


by Edmond Rostand

Cyrano de Bergerac Timeline and Summary

  • Cyrano enters as a voice, commanding the bad stage actor, Montfleury, to get off the stage. He succeeds in driving him away.
  • We learn that Cyrano has a very exacting taste in theater when he pays the rest of the company to cancel the show for the night—simply because he thinks little of the playwright.
  • Cyrano goes into a verbal rampage when Vicomte de Valvert insults his nose. He mocks himself, creating a long list of funny insults Valvert could’ve come up with, but failed to. After that, he duels with Valvert and thinks so little of his opponent that he makes up a ballad to accompany his sword thrusts. He wins easily against Valvert.
  • Cyrano shows his gallantry and restraint by taking only a handful of food from the orange girl, though she offers him everything for free.
  • Cyrano discusses his feelings with Le Bret. He announces his goal in life—to make himself admirable in all things.
  • He also admits he has fallen in love with Roxane. His greatest fear, he confesses, is that she will laugh at him.
  • Cyrano receives a message from Roxane’s Duenna telling him to meet her privately on the morrow. He is so elated that he offers to fight off Lignière’s 100 attackers.
  • Cyrano fights off Lignière’s 100 attackers.
  • The next morning, Cyrano arrives at Ragueneau’s an hour early to wait for his meeting with Roxane. He is beside himself with nerves.
  • When Roxane arrives, Cyrano makes sure they are alone. He lures off the Duenna with sweetmeats and poems.
  • Through Roxane’s conversation, we learn that she and Cyrano played together as children. He often came running to her when he hurt his hands and she would bandage them. As she says this, she takes Cyrano’s hand and discovers it had been injured in the fight last night. She reverts to childhood memories and bandages it for him.
  • Cyrano discovers that Roxane loves another man—Christian. He agrees to protect him and make him write a letter to her.
  • Cyrano checks up on Roxane and happily finds her entranced by Christian—whom she calls more "intellectual" than Cyrano.
  • When Christian tries to woo Roxane on his own and fails miserably, Cyrano helps him win Roxane back by spewing out a long and beautiful paean of love. In his speech, he emphasizes his joy in being able to speak to her truly for the first time.
  • While Roxane and Christian are secretly getting married, Cyrano distracts a masked de Guiche from discovering them. He pretends to be a drunken madman who thinks he has just fallen from the moon. He invents some highly comedic and improbable situations to hold de Guiche’s attention and, in spite of himself, de Guiche finds himself fascinated.
  • After a quarter of an hour—the time allotted to complete the marriage ceremony—Cyrano reveals the entire thing to de Guiche and finds himself facing the man’s vengeance.
  • Cyrano promises again to Roxane to take care of Christian and make sure he writes every day.
  • At the battlefield of Arras a month later, Cyrano uses his witty words to raise the starving men’s morale.
  • Then Cyrano’s pride gets him into trouble again; when he accuses de Guiche of cowardice and brings out his white scarf to prove it, Cyrano gets his whole regiment thrown into certain death. De Guiche wants them to fight the Spaniards at 100:1 odds.
  • When Roxane arrives and admits her feelings to Christian, he is distraught. He brings the news to Cyrano, who dares to hope for Roxane’s true love. Just as he is about to confess the truth, Christian is shot.
  • Cyrano can no longer bring himself to spill the beans and tells the dying Christian that despite his confession, Roxane still loves him.
  • Cyrano picks up the regiment’s makeshift banner (with Roxane’s handkerchief as the flag) and marches off into battle, eager to avenge Christian’s death.
  • Miraculously, he survives.
  • Fifteen years later, Cyrano makes weekly visits to Roxane’s convent to tell her news of the court. This time, however, he suffers an "accident" at the hands of the vengeful Comte and comes to Roxane mortally wounded.
  • He hides his head injury under a hat and pretends that nothing is wrong. He tells her the news at court. Only when he faints does Roxane suspect something is wrong.
  • Cyrano asks to read "Christian’s" last letter. As he reads it passionately, Roxane finally recognizes his voice as that of the romantic man under the balcony.
  • When she approaches him with the truth, Cyrano denies it, saying it was Christian who loved her, not him.
  • When Cyrano’s friends arrive to help him with his injury, he turns bitter. He laments that others have always taken the prize he has earned.
  • In his fatal delirium, he speculates that he will soon be in paradise on the moon. When he feels death coming on, Cyrano rises to greet him, drawing his sword.
  • Cyrano’s last words, murmured as Roxane kisses him, are about the one thing in the world he has left—his unstained white plume.
  • Cyrano dies.