Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 3, Scenes 3–7 | Summary

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Summary

Act 3, Scene 3

Roxane tells Cyrano that she and Duenna are going to a talk being held in the house across the street. Roxane says Christian will probably come and asks Cyrano to tell him to wait. Cyrano asks what the talk is about. She says the speaker will improvise about love. Roxane and Duenna enter the house where the lecture is being held.

Act 3, Scene 4

Christian enters and informs Cyrano that he is tired of speaking Cyrano's words to Roxane. Christian feels confident that Roxane loves him and so wants to speak for himself. But when he sees Roxane leave the house, Christian panics and asks Cyrano to help him. Cyrano says, "You're on your own."

Act 3, Scene 5

Roxane approaches Christian, who says he loves her. Pleased, she wants Christian to expand on his feelings. However, all Christian can do is repeat "I love you." Frustrated, Roxane wants Christian to show more eloquence. So, Christian says, "I adore you," instead of "I love you." Roxane gets annoyed at Christian, saying that she doesn't like him being stupid. Despite Christian's pleading for her to stay, Roxane says goodnight, enters her house, and shuts the door. Cyrano has been watching the end of Christian's talk with Roxane. After she leaves, Cyrano tells Christian, "Well done!"

Act 3, Scene 6

Christian pleads with Cyrano to help him get Roxane back. Because it is dark outside, Cyrano realizes there might be a chance for Christian to win back Roxane's love. He tells Christian to stand beneath her balcony. Then, Cyrano orders his pages to keep watch for anyone approaching. The pages exit. Christian calls Roxane's name.

Act 3, Scene 7

Roxane half opens her window, looks out onto her balcony, and asks who calls her. When she realizes Christian is calling, she tells him to go away. Cyrano prompts Christian to say something romantic. When Christian does, Roxane's attitude softens. Cyrano continues to prompt Christian with romantic lines. Roxane is impressed but wonders why Christian speaks in such a halting manner. Finding the situation awkward, Cyrano takes Christian's place in the darkness. Trying to sound like Christian, Cyrano speaks for him. Cyrano says he is done with being clever and wants to express his true feelings of love for Roxane. When Cyrano describes these feelings, Roxane is swept away. She says, "My darling, I'm drunk on your words." Christian interrupts, whispering to Cyrano to ask for a kiss. Roxane is surprised by this request. Under his breath, Cyrano reproaches Christian. Christian claims that Roxane is weakening and now is the moment. Cyrano then hears a signal from his pages that someone is approaching.

Analysis

In Act 3, Scenes 3 to 7, Rostand develops variations on the themes of deception and beauty. The main variation involves Cyrano's relationship with Roxane. At first Cyrano seems to enjoy providing the romantic lines for Christian to speak to Roxane. After all, by doing this, he can express his love for Roxane to a certain degree and can receive praise from Roxane about these expressions of love, even though she believes Christian has said them. But Cyrano's deception eventually becomes a prison for him. When he prompts Christian with romantic lines to be said to Roxane, Cyrano becomes frustrated with the artifice of the situation. So, Cyrano takes Christian's place, knowing that Roxane can't see the person talking to her because of the darkness. When Cyrano does this, he breaks through the pretense of speaking for Christian and speaks his true feelings of love for Roxane from the depths of his soul. Cyrano's expression of love becomes richer and more beautiful than ever. For example, Cyrano says, "Your name's like a bell in my heart, dearest, a little bell, and as I keep trembling, the bell keeps ringing and ringing and saying your name." Roxane immediately senses this difference. His words make her tremble and cry with love for the man saying them, whom she believes is Christian. For Rostand, profound beauty is an expression of true, deep love.

A second variation on the themes of deception and beauty involves Christian. He becomes tired of deceiving Roxane. Confident of Roxane's love, he wants to express his own words of love to her. Christian feels that somehow the beauty of Cyrano's soul has rubbed off on him. Christian says, "I'm not a complete fool. Just wait and see. I've learnt a lot from you." However, Christian is deceiving himself and knows this the minute he sees Roxane approach. When Christian tries to express his romantic feelings to Roxane, he sounds pedestrian and repetitious. This stupidity disgusts Roxane. In fact, she compares his stupidity to being ugly.

In a sense Christian shows the most integrity of any of the main characters. He never feels comfortable about deceiving Roxane and wants to be honest with her. His self-deception about being eloquent is very short lived, and this deception is motivated by a desire to be forthright. In contrast, Cyrano shows a creative genius for being deceptive. He comes up with an elaborate plan to deceive Roxane and implements this plan effectively. However, feeling the confinement of not openly expressing his love for Roxane, Cyrano's deception begins to work against him. For her part, Roxane easily deceives de Guiche, making him believe that she loves him and not Christian.

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