The White Plume
Symbolism, Imagery, Allegory
Plume With A View
On the battlefield, the white plume is a mark of military rank, a target for enemy guns. The fact that de Guiche threw his away in the heat of battle means he’s a huge ninny... as if we didn’t know that already.
Cyrano picking the plume up is symbolic of his staunch courage, loyalty to his country and fellow soldiers, and undying honor. It’s no surprise, then, that his last words are about this very plume, which is unstained, noble, and honorable:
Ah, you too, Vanity!
I knew you would overthrow me in the end—
No! I fight on! I fight on!
(He swings the blade in great circles, then pauses, gasping. When he speaks again, it is in another tone.)
Yes, all my laurels you have riven away
And all my roses; yet in spite of you,
There is one crown I bear away with me
And to-night, when I enter before God,
My salute shall sweep all the stars away
From the blue threshold! One thing without stain,
Unspotted from the world, in spite of doom
(He springs forward, his sword lifted aloft.)
And that is…
(The sword escapes his hand; he totters, and falls into the arms of Le Bret and Ragueneau.)
ROXANE (Bends over him and kisses him on the forehead.)—That is…
CYRANO (Opens his eyes and smiles up at her.)
My white plume… (V.374-384)
Ugh. Someone must be cutting onions nearby... or maybe it's those pesky allergies...