Cyrano de Bergerac's Comedic Monologue

Still of the film version of Cyrano de Bergerac

Stanley Kramer Productions / Wikimedia Commons

Edmond Rostand's play, Cyrano de Bergerac, was written in 1897 and set in France in the 1640s. The play revolves around a love triangle that involves Cyrano de Bergerac, a multi-talented cadet who is a skilled duelist and a poet but has an unusually large nose. Cyrano's nose separates him from everyone else in the play physically and also symbolizes his uniqueness. 

In Act One, Scene 4, our romantic hero is at the theater. He has just bullied a blustering actor off of the stage as well as an audience member. Considering him a nuisance, a wealthy and haughty viscount goes up to Cyrano and declares, "Sir, you have a very big nose!" Cyrano is unimpressed with the insult and follows up with a monologue of far wittier insults about his own nose. Cyrano's humorous monologue about his nose is a crowd-pleaser and an important piece of character development, let's delve into it. 


Unphased by a viscount poking fun at his nose, Cyrano points out that the viscount's remarks were unimaginative and sarcastically tries to help him by making fun of his own nose in a variety of tones. For example:

"Aggressive: 'Sir, if I had a nose like that, I would amputate it!'"
"Friendly: 'When you sup it must annoy you, dipping in your cup. You need a drinking-bowl of a special shape!'"
"Curious: 'What is that large container for? To hold your pens and ink?'"
"Gracious: 'How kind you are. You love the little birds so much you have given them a perch to roost upon.'"
"Considerate: 'Be careful when you bow your head or you might lose your balance and fall over.'"
"Dramatic: 'When it bleeds, the Red Sea.'"

And the list goes on and on. Cyrano makes it dramatically extensive to prove how unoriginal the viscount is compared to himself. To really drive it home, Cyrano ends the monologue by saying the viscount could have made fun of Cyrano is so many different ways, but "unfortunately, you're totally witless and a man of very few letters."


To understand the importance of this monologue, some plot background is needed. Cyrano is in love with Roxane, a beautiful and smart woman. Although he is a confident extrovert, Cyrano's one source of doubt is his nose. He believes his nose prevents him from being seen as handsome by any woman, especially Roxane. This is why Cyrano is not upfront with Roxane about how he feels, which leads to a love triangle that is the basis on the play.

In making fun of his own nose with a monologue, Cyrano acknowledges that his nose is his Achilles heel, while at the same time establishing his talent for wit and poetry as incomparable to others. In the end, his intellect outshines his physical appearance.

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Your Citation
Bradford, Wade. "Cyrano de Bergerac's Comedic Monologue." ThoughtCo, Aug. 27, 2020, Bradford, Wade. (2020, August 27). Cyrano de Bergerac's Comedic Monologue. Retrieved from Bradford, Wade. "Cyrano de Bergerac's Comedic Monologue." ThoughtCo. (accessed February 6, 2023).