Cyrano de Bergerac
How we cite our quotes:
My nose!...You pug, you knob, you button-head,
Know that I glory in this nose of mine,
For a great nose indicates a great man –
Genial, courteous, intellectual,
Virile, courageous – as I am – and such
As you – poor wretch – will never dare to be
Even in imagination. (I. 336-342)
Cyrano considers his nose something that is part of himself and representative of his deepest values – sophistication, courage, intelligence, and manliness. Yet this would seem to be pretense when we see how ashamed he is of his appearance.
Oh – These arrogant grand airs! –
A clown who – look at him – not even gloves!
No ribbons – no lace – no buckles on his shoes – (I. 414-416)
Vicomte de Valvert, a nobleman, is obsessed with appearances and proper attire. His concerns are rendered petty when compared to the nobility of Cyrano’s love and devotion.
I carry my adornments on my soul.
I do not dress up like a popinjay;
But inwardly, I keep my daintiness.
I do not bear with me, by any chance,
An insult not yet washed away – a conscience
Yellow with unpurged bile – an honor frayed
To rags, a set of scruples.
I go caparisoned in gems unseen,
Trailing white plumes of freedom, garlanded
With my good name – no figure of a man,
But a soul clothed in shining armor, hung
With deeds for decorations, twirling – thus –
A bristling wit, and swinging at my side
Courage, and on the stones of this old town
Making the sharp truth ring, like golden spurs! (I. 417-431)
Cyrano’s most characteristic virtues are unseen – wit, courage, and a devotion to truth. Unfortunately, Roxane is blind to these attributes and sees only appearances.