Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 3, Scenes 8–14 | Summary

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Summary

Act 3, Scene 8

A monk enters, looking for the house of Madeleine Robin. Christian wants Cyrano to get rid of the monk. Cyrano misdirects the monk, who heads away from Roxane's home.

Act 3, Scene 9

Christian tells Cyrano that he must kiss Roxane. Cyrano agrees that the time has come for Christian and Roxane to kiss.

Act 3, Scene 10

Roxane appears on her balcony. Cyrano, speaking as Christian, tries to convince Roxane to let Christian kiss her. At first Roxane opposes the idea but then gives in when she thinks about how handsome Christian is. Cyrano encourages Christian to climb up the balcony and kiss Roxane. Christian climbs to Roxane, takes her in his arms, and kisses her. Seeing Christian kiss Roxane hurts Cyrano. The monk comes back. Cyrano pretends to have run from a distance to Roxane's house. He asks if Christian is there. Christian fakes surprise at seeing Cyrano and is upset about seeing the monk.

Act 3, Scene 11

The monk tells Cyrano that Madeleine Robin does live here. Roxane enters from her house, followed by Christian and Ragueneau. The monk gives Roxane a letter from de Guiche. She reads the letter to herself. In the letter de Guiche says he has stayed behind at the convent and will come to Roxane tonight. Roxane then reads the letter so that the monk and the others will hear. However, when she does this, Roxane falsifies the letter's content by saying that de Guiche wants her to marry Christian, even though she doesn't want to. Roxane pretends to be upset about this command from de Guiche but resigns herself to accept it. The monk agrees to marry Roxane and Christian. Roxane whispers to Cyrano that he must delay de Guiche long enough to allow her and Christian to be married. Cyrano obliges. All the characters except for Cyrano enter the house.

Act 3, Scene 12

Cyrano ponders how he can stop de Guiche and comes up with an idea. He climbs to Roxane's balcony, lowers his hat over his eyes, puts aside his sword, and wraps himself in his cloak.

Act 3, Scene 13

De Guiche enters looking for the monk. Cyrano jumps from the balcony and lands with a thud in front of de Guiche. Using a Gascon accent, Cyrano says he's from the moon and asks the time. De Guiche doesn't recognize Cyrano. Instead, he thinks this man with the Scottish accent is insane. Cyrano prevents de Guiche from entering Roxane's house by making up an absurd story about flying among the stars. Cyrano proceeds to explain six ways to get to the moon. De Guiche becomes absorbed in Cyrano's explanation. Then Cyrano explains a seventh method, which involves being drawn up to the moon with the evening tide. Suddenly Cyrano breaks off his story and, resuming his normal voice, says, "They're married." De Guiche recognizes Cyrano and asks who got married. Roxane and Christian come out of her house holding hands, followed by the monk.

Act 3, Scene 14

De Guiche sarcastically congratulates Roxane and Christian and compliments Cyrano for his outlandish story about celestial travel. Then de Guiche says that Cyrano's cadets, including Christian, have been ordered to the war. Afraid, Roxane embraces Christian. Cyrano pulls Christian away from Roxane as the military drums beat. She asks Cyrano to look after Christian. Cyrano says he'll try. Roxane wants Cyrano to make sure Christian writes every day. Cyrano replies, "That I can promise."

Analysis

In Act 3, Scenes 8 to 14, Rostand develops the theme of deception by piling on one deception after another. As this happens, the deceptions become more extreme. All the instances of deception build on the primary deception of Christian's using Cyrano's words to win the hand of Roxane. The first instance seems rather small: to get rid of the monk, Cyrano gives him the wrong directions to Roxane's house. However, the scale of deception increases significantly when Roxane blatantly lies about the content of de Guiche's letter. By doing this she renders impossible the outcome de Guiche intends, specifically to make love with Roxane. The last deception that Rostand adds is even more elaborate. Cyrano disguises himself as a Scottish madman who believes he has just arrived from the moon. He does this to prevent de Guiche from entering Roxane's house and stopping Roxane and Christian's marriage ceremony. The level of deception on which the play's action is built has reached the absurd, and Cyrano continues this deception for about 15 minutes. The deception's absurdity actually makes it effective: de Guiche becomes so absorbed in Cyrano's outlandish story that he forgets for a moment his intention to rendezvous with Roxane.

Here, Rostand uses the moon as a focal point. According to Cyrano, he has arrived from the moon and is dazed by the long trip. He talks about the man in the moon, what the moon is made of, and how to use the moon's influence on the tides to travel to the moon. As Cyrano spins his fantastic lunar tale, de Guiche gets drawn into it as if being hypnotized into a trance. So Rostand uses the moon as a symbol of the influence of deception by building on classical allusions to the moon as an inspiration of madness.

Rostand also has Cyrano talk about the moon because the real Cyrano de Bergerac wrote a story about traveling to the moon called The Comical History of the States and Empires of the Moon. In this story de Bergerac describes various ways to travel in space, which Rostand incorporated for Cyrano's deception in the play.

Rostand increases the scale of the deceptions for two reasons. First, the deceptions have a comical effect. The final deception about lunar travel, if performed effectively, is hilarious in its absurdity. Second, Rostand shows that one instance of deception can lead to many more, which can ultimately be counterproductive. For example, Roxane wants Cyrano's cadets to stay in Paris to prevent Christian from getting hurt in battle. However, because of Roxane's and Cyrano's deceptions, Christian ends up going to battle, the result Roxane wanted to avoid.

Rostand further interrelates the themes of deception and beauty through Christian and Roxane's kiss. This kiss can be seen as the union of Christian's outer beauty with Roxane's outer beauty; as Cyrano says, "Her rosy lips must meet your blond moustache." The kiss leads directly to Roxane marrying Christian. So, through the kiss Cyrano achieves the main goal of his ghostwriting for Christian, namely the romantic union of Roxane and Christian. However, instead of being overjoyed about his success, Cyrano feels pain when he sees Christian kiss Roxane. Cyrano realizes he has been deceiving himself. The actual goal of his deception is not the union of Roxane and Christian, but rather his own expression of love for Roxane. Because of this, when Cyrano sees Roxane kiss Christian he says, "That kiss had something in it meant for me." Because Cyrano has now admitted to himself his true motive for ghostwriting, he feels no sympathy for Christian and Roxane when they cannot enjoy their wedding night. Cyrano says, "That won't break my heart." Even though Cyrano intends to uphold his promise to protect Christian, he knows he will be ghostwriting love letters to Roxane not for Christian, but rather for himself. So, when Roxane asks Cyrano to promise that Christian will write every day, Cyrano replies, "That I can promise."

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