Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 2, Scenes 5–6 | Summary

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Summary

Act 2, Scene 5

Cyrano says to himself that he'll give his love letter to Roxane if she shows the slightest sign of returning his love. Roxane and her servant Duenna meet Cyrano at the cook's shop. To get rid of Duenna, Cyrano gives her pastries and tells her to eat them on the street. He pushes her out the door, saying "don't come back until you've scoffed the lot."

Act 2, Scene 6

Alone with Roxane, Cyrano asks why she wants to meet with him. Roxane thanks Cyrano for fighting Valvert. De Guiche wanted Roxane to have a sham marriage with Valvert. By doing this, de Guiche could have her for himself. Roxane and Cyrano fondly remember how they played together when they were children. These memories give Roxane the courage to ask a favor of Cyrano. Roxane confesses she secretly loves a cadet in Cyrano's regiment. At first Cyrano hopes Roxane is referring to him. However, when Roxane mentions that the man is handsome, Cyrano realizes with a shock that he has been deceiving himself. Roxane says she loves Christian de Neuvillette. Cyrano mentions that Roxane is a refined, intelligent lady. What would happen if Christian turned out to be a "dull, uncultured clod"? Roxane refuses to believe a man so handsome as Christian could be stupid. If Christian turns out to be a dullard, Roxane claims she would die. She fears Christian will be in danger in the regiment because he's not a Gascon, but most of the other cadets are. As a result, the cadets might pick a fight with Christian. Cyrano promises to protect Christian. Grateful, Roxane says she loves Cyrano and leaves. Cyrano stands dejectedly with downcast eyes.

Analysis

In Act 2, Scene 6, Rostand develops the theme of beauty for Roxane. She is convinced that outer beauty must reflect inner beauty; she refuses to believe a man as handsome as Christian could be an uncultured bore. This unquestioning blindness is Roxane's major flaw. If she had some doubts about Christian's character, she might have tried to get to know him before declaring her love. However, her confidence in her own prejudices causes her to declare her love for Christian without even talking to the man. Cyrano realizes Roxane's rashness and also the futility of trying to change her mind. He knows firsthand that a person can possess outer ugliness and inner beauty, and vice versa. In fact, the pain Cyrano endures because of his unattractiveness most likely enriches his inner character, making him more sympathetic to the oppressed. In an instance of dramatic irony (where the reader is aware of something that a character is unaware of), Roxane says she loves Cyrano because she is moved by Cyrano's nobility about protecting Christian; the reader knows that the love she expresses is not romantic love, while Cyrano's love for her is, which makes this moment a painful one for him.

Act 2, Scenes 5 and 6 also contain many instances of deception. Cyrano gives Duenna pastries to eat as a pretense to get rid of her so he can be alone with Roxane. Duenna, though, unlike the audience, is unaware of this. Also, Cyrano understands he has been deceiving himself about Roxane's love; but as Roxane describes the man she loves, she piques his hope by unintentionally making Cyrano believe she is talking about him. However, when Roxane mentions the man she loves is handsome, Cyrano realizes he has been a fool. He has allowed himself to hope for what in his view is unattainable, namely to receive the love of a beautiful woman. At the end of Act 2, Scene 6, Cyrano accepts his self-deception with resignation.

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