How are Cyrano and Roxane related in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac

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Cyrano is one of the great noble characters in literature, and in Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac we learn that he is in love with Roxane, also known as Madeleine Robin. The two of them have a long-term connection; however, for most of the play, Roxane does not seem worthy of the kind of selfless and sacrificial love Cyrano has for her.

In act two of the play, Roxane meets Cyrano in Ragueneau's bakery. Before she arrives, Cyrano writes a love letter to Roxane in anticipation of some great confession of love from her. Instead, Roxane has something much more painful for him to do, though he will never reveal his pain to her. Roxane says she once again wants to confess her soul to him, but first he must once again become

...that brother-friend

With whom I used to play by the lake-side!

Cyrano reminds her that she used to come to Bergerac every spring, and they reminisce about Cyrano cutting reeds to make her swords and Roxane weaving corn-stalk braids for her doll's hair.

ROXANE: Those were the days of games!. . . CYRANO: And blackberries!. . . ROXANE: In those days you did everything I bid!. . . CYRANO: Roxane, in her short frock, was Madeleine. . . ROXANE: Was I fair then? CYRANO: You were not ill to see!

The two of them are cousins, and they spent time together as children. Cyrano has undoubtedly loved her ever since those days, though Roxane still sees herself as kind of a mother-figure who bandages Cyrano’s cuts and scrapes, which she does even there at the bakery.

Roxane is here at the bakery this morning to ask Cyrano to help her “catch” another man; it is a testament to Cryano’s pure and selfless love for his cousin Roxane that he agrees to do it. 

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