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Cyrano's Speech - Comedic Monologue from "Cyrano de Bergerac"



In Act One of Edmond Rostand's play, Cyrano de Bergerac, the romantic hero with the unusually large nose is at the theater. He has just bullied a blustering actor off of the stage. The audience is very upset with Cyrano, and a wealthy viscount stands up and declares, "Sir, you have a very big nose!" Cyrano is unimpressed with the insult, and in this monologue he provides examples of far wittier insults (much to the delight of the audience).


Young man, I am afraid your speech was a trifle short. You could have said at least one hundred other things, varying the tone of your words. Let me give you some examples.

In an aggressive tone: "Sir, if I had a nose like that, I would amputate it!"

Friendly: "When you drink from a cup your nose must get wet. Why don't you drink from a bowl?"

Descriptive: "Tis a rock! A peak! A cape! No, it's a peninsula!"

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."

Truculent: "When you light your pipe and puff smoke from your nose the neighbors must think the chimney's afire."

Considerate: "Be careful when you bow your head or you might lose your balance and fall over."

Thoughtful: "Place an umbrella over your nose to keep its color from fading in the sun."

Arcane: "Sir, only the beast that Aristophanes calls the hippocampelephantocamelos could have had such a solid lump of flesh and bone below its forehead."

Cavalier: "A hook to hang your hat upon."

Emphatic: "No breeze, O majestic nose, can give thee cold - save when the north winds blow."

Dramatic: "When it bleeds, it must be like the Red Sea."

Admiring: "What a fine sign for a perfume shop!"

Lyrical: "Is that a conch shell? And are you Triton risen from the ocean?"

Naïve: "Is that monument open to the public?"

Rustic: "That don't look like a nose. It's either a big cucumber or a little watermelon."

Military: "The enemy is charging! Aim your cannon!"

Practical: "A nose like that has one advantage: it keeps your feet dry in the rain."

There, sir, now you have an inkling of what you might have said, had you been a witty man of letters. Unfortunately, you're totally witless and a man of very few letters: only four that spell the word "fool." But even if you had the skill to invent such remarks, you would not have been able to entertain me with them. You would have uttered no more than a quarter of such a jest, the first syllable of the first word, for such jesting is a privilege I only grant myself.

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