Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 2, Scenes 9–11 | Summary

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Summary

Act 2, Scene 9

At the cook's shop, the cadets tease Christian about being "wet behind the ears." Christian wants to prove them wrong. Knowing this the cadets tell Christian never to mention anything to Cyrano about his nose. Cyrano has killed people who even hinted at his nose. Soon Cyrano begins to describe how he defeated 100 men. To prove his bravery, Christian interrupts Cyrano's story with a nose reference. Cyrano becomes infuriated, but he controls himself when he learns that the man who insulted him is Christian. Christian keeps interrupting Cyrano's story with more nose jokes. Eventually Cyrano angrily orders everyone out, except Christian. As they leave the cadets mention how they expect Cyrano to carve Christian into pieces.

Act 2, Scene 10

Alone with Christian, Cyrano tells the young man how brave he is. Cyrano then hugs Christian and says that he's Roxane's cousin. Christian wonders if Roxane loves him, and Cyrano says she does. Ecstatic, Christian apologizes for insulting Cyrano. But when Christian realizes Roxane wants to speak to him tonight, he becomes mortified. Christian claims he's stupid when it comes to talking to women about his love for them. He says, "with women, all my words dry up." Cyrano gets an idea about how to solve this problem. He will write romantic lines for Christian to say to Roxane. Cyrano claims, "Together we can make the perfect man: your looks, my voice." The idea frightens Christian, but Cyrano convinces him to do it. Cyrano gives Christian the letter he wrote earlier to give to Roxane tonight. Christian is amazed that Cyrano has a letter ready, but Cyrano claims that poets are always writing down love verses for women.

Act 2, Scene 11

The cadets return and are amazed to see Cyrano and Christian arm in arm. A musketeer figures he can now freely insult Cyrano about his nose. However, when he tries it, Cyrano boxes his ears, which delights the cadets. They know their old Cyrano is back.

Analysis

In Act 2, Scene 9, Rostand interrelates the themes of deception and pride. Because Christian is not a Gascon and is a new member of the cadets, the Gascon cadets decide to play a mean trick on him. This trick works because of the pride of both Christian and Cyrano. Knowing that Christian is proud and wants to prove his worth as a cadet, the other cadets tell him not to mention anything to Cyrano about his nose. They do this because they know Christian will see this as an opportunity to prove his bravery. So, the cadets deceive or trick Christian into a fight with Cyrano. For all the cadets know, Cyrano could kill Christian.

Because of Christian's pride, he takes the bait and tries to start a fight with Cyrano by making nose jokes. As the cadets expect, Cyrano's pride causes him to become angry about these jokes. However, what the cadets don't realize is that Cyrano has sworn to protect Christian, which causes the trick to fail. Cyrano's pride about keeping his word overrides his pride about not swallowing insults about his nose.

In Act 2, Scene 10, Rostand explores the theme of deception. In the beginning of this scene, Christian and Cyrano are truthful with each other. For example, Cyrano says he's Roxane's cousin, and Christian confesses that he becomes tongue-tied when he tries to express his love to a woman. However, there is one key fact that Cyrano is not honest about. He does not admit to Christian that he loves Roxane. This deception allows Cyrano to put into action another deception, namely his writing romantic lines for Christian to say to Roxane. If Christian realized Cyrano loved Roxane, he never would have agreed to Cyrano's plan. Also, Cyrano is most likely deceiving himself. He probably rationalizes to himself that his plan to deceive Roxane is for Christian's and Roxane's benefit. After all, by combining Christian's handsomeness and Cyrano's poetic skills, Roxane will probably fall in love with Christian and perhaps marry him. This is what both Christian and Roxane want. However, in reality Cyrano wants to vicariously express his love to Roxane. Doing so will allow him to simulate a romantic relationship with her without taking the risk of directly confessing his love to her.

In this scene, Rostand also develops the theme of beauty through Cyrano's plan to woo Roxane. Cyrano's plan is to combine outer beauty with inner beauty, namely Christian's good looks and Cyrano's poetry. By doing this the plan casts aside outer ugliness (Cyrano's appearance) and inner unattractiveness (Christian's lack of cleverness). Cyrano is creating his ideal man, a persona he probably often wished he could have in real life.

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