Cyrano de Bergerac
Versions of Reality Quotes
How we cite our quotes:
(The melody of a Musette is heard. Montfleury appears upon the scene, a ponderous figure in the costume of a rustic shepherd, a hat garlanded with roses tilted over one ear, playing upon a beribboned pastoral pipe)
THE CROWD (Applauds)
MONTFLEURY (After bowing to the applause, begins the role of Phedon)
"Thrice happy he who hides from pomp and power
In sylvan shade or solitary bower;
Where balmy zephyrs fan his burning cheeks – " (I. 212-215)
The fact that Montfleury is acting in a play gives the whole scene a sense of artificiality. His lines are ridiculously fanciful and overblown; Cyrano hates him for this very reason, yet our hero’s own language isn’t exactly drastically different.
THE BOY (To Cyrano)
After all, Monsieur, what reason have you
To hate this Montfleury?
CYRANO (Graciously, still seated)
My dear young man,
I have two reasons, either one alone
Conclusive. Primo: A lamentable actor,
Who mouths his verse and moans his tragedy,
And heaves up – Ugh! – like a hod-carrier, lines
That ought to soar on their own wings. Secundo: -
Well – that’s my secret. (I. 279-285)
Though he doesn’t reveal it here, Cyrano hates Montfleury simply for looking at Roxane the wrong way. Also, Cyrano’s speech has a hint of pretentiousness in its Italian "primo" and "secundo," echoing the manner in which stage drama is written.
ANOTHER COMEDIENNE (Jumps down, speaks to a Comedian costumed as an old man.)
CYRANO Come all of you – the Doctor, Isabelle,
Léandre – the whole company – a swarm
Of murmuring, golden bees – we’ll parody
Italian farce and Tragedy-of-Blood;
Ribbons for banners, masks for blazonry,
And tambourines to be our rolling drums! (I. 654-660)
The stage actors and Cyrano both steep their speech in the language of a drama – calling each other by their Italian stage names (Cassandre, Isabelle, Léandre) and discussing Cyrano’s upcoming fight with de Guiche’s 100 men as an "Italian farce and Tragedy-of-Blood." In reality, of course, it is a much more serious and real fight to death. That these men speak of it so lightly gets at the central conflict of Cyrano de Bergerac – that of comedic and overblown tone, juxtaposed with a more dramatic, underlying tragedy.