Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 3, Scenes 1–2 | Summary

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Summary

Act 3, Scene 1

Outside Roxane's house, Ragueneau describes to Duenna how Lise ran off with a musketeer. In despair Ragueneau attempted to hang himself, but Cyrano saved him and gave him a job as his cousin's steward. Duenna mentions that she and Roxane are going to the house across the street to listen to a gentleman talk about love. Cyrano enters accompanied by two pages playing a theorbos, a stringed instrument similar to a lute. Cyrano explains that he won the pages in a bet. But he has already tired of them and tells them to leave. Cyrano asks Duenna if Roxane still thinks the man she loves is perfect. Entering, Roxane says, "He is—perfect—so handsome—and I love him." Roxane praises the poetic way Christian expresses his love for her, including his beautiful love letters. She recites by heart lines from some of these letters, which Cyrano criticizes. She accuses Cyrano of being jealous. In truth Cyrano is delighted that Roxane has memorized these letters. Roxane calls Christian a genius. At first Cyrano says her compliment is too extreme, but then gracefully accepts it on behalf of Christian. Duenna notices de Guiche approaching. Roxane knows de Guiche loves her and could ruin her if he suspects she loves Christian, so she tells Cyrano to hide in her house.

Act 3, Scene 2

De Guiche enters and tells Roxane that he is about to go to war with his regiment. At first de Guiche is hurt because Roxane does not seem broken hearted about his going into harm's way. Roxane realizes that Cyrano's cadets, including Christian, are part of de Guiche's regiment. The thought of Christian's being killed terrifies Roxane. However, de Guiche believes Roxane is finally showing signs of her concern for him. Roxane tells de Guiche that the best way for him to get revenge on Cyrano is to prevent him and his cadets from going to war. Because Cyrano loves fighting, he will be furious. De Guiche thinks Roxane's plan is brilliant, not realizing that she really wants to protect Christian. When Roxane says farewell to de Guiche, she pretends she loves him. As a result, de Guiche is rapturous. After de Guiche leaves, Roxane orders Duenna not to tell Cyrano about her plan to protect Christian. Cyrano would be furious with her for denying him the opportunity to fight.

Analysis

In Act 3, Scene 1, Rostand explores the theme of beauty and the theme of deception through Cyrano's plan to romance Roxane. As it turns out Cyrano's plan seems to be working out very well. By using Christian's good looks and his own skill as a poet, Cyrano has succeeded in creating his ideal man: Roxane tells Cyrano that Christian is perfect. As Roxane praises Christian's expressions of love to her, Cyrano is secretly delighted. He has begun to live vicariously through Christian, who could be seen as a puppet Cyrano is controlling to show his love for Roxane. In a way, both Roxane and Cyrano are living out their fantasies. Roxane's fantasy is falling in love with a man who has both outward and inward beauty. Cyrano's fantasy is having a beautiful woman fall in love with him, which Roxane has done through Cyrano's surrogate, Christian.

At the beginning of this scene, Rostand touches on what can happen when a husband and wife are each drawn to different types of beauty. Ragueneau loves the inner beauty of the poetic soul, but Lise loves the outer beauty of a handsome man. As a result, she runs off with a musketeer, leaving Ragueneau in despair. Indeed, Ragueneau would have killed himself if Cyrano hadn't rescued him.

Act 3, Scene 2 focuses on the theme of deception through Roxane. Because of her love for Christian, she practices a double deception on de Guiche. First, to protect Christian, she suggests that de Guiche get his revenge on Cyrano by keeping him and his cadets (including Christian) away from the war. De Guiche is so infatuated with Roxane that he does not even consider she might be deceiving him. Recognizing his infatuation with her, Roxane deceives de Guiche again by pretending to love him. Roxane probably does this to prevent de Guiche from even considering that she loves someone else. By doing this Roxane shows another similarity to Cyrano: for both of them, love overrides truth. Neither has any qualms about deceiving people for love. In this way, both of them are hypocrites. They each admire truth as expressed through poetry and other arts; however, when it comes to pursuing their love, truth takes a back seat.

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