Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 4, Scene 4 | Summary

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Summary

De Guiche arrives at the encampment of Cyrano's cadets. He tells the cadets that he has heard of their complaints about him. De Guiche claims the whole army knows about his courage, which he showed by leading a charge yesterday. Before the charge he removed his white sash, which identified him as the leader of his regiment. By doing this he lessened the possibility of being shot. Cyrano criticizes de Guiche for removing his sash. De Guiche counters that removing his sash enabled him to successfully lead a charge. Cyrano says he will put the sash on and asks de Guiche to lend it to him. De Guiche accuses Cyrano of bluffing because the white sash has been lost. Cyrano removes the sash from his pocket and shows it to de Guiche. Thanking Cyrano, de Guiche grabs the sash and uses it to make a signal. This signal will let the Spanish know where to attack, specifically at Cyrano's cadets. This attack will happen when half the French army has left to get supplies. So, the cadets must defend their post until the troops return. De Guiche knows many cadets will die in this fight. Cyrano guesses that de Guiche has made the cadets a target because he wants to get revenge on him. De Guiche admits this. Christian wants to put his feelings into a letter to send to Roxane before the attack. Cyrano says he has already written a letter for Christian. However, Christian notices a tear stain on the letter and asks why Cyrano was crying when he wrote it. To everyone's surprise, a carriage arrives and Roxane gets out.

Analysis

In Act 4, Scene 4, Rostand focuses on the theme of pride by contrasting the pride of de Guiche and Cyrano. Both of these men are prideful, but they show it in different ways. De Guiche has pride in his position as a noble and the leader of a regiment. Because of this, de Guiche is offended when he learns that the cadets have been disparaging him. However, de Guiche is also a practical man of the world. He knows his white sash makes him a target during a battle. If he gets shot, he will not be able to lead his men. So, de Guiche removes his sash and successfully leads a charge. He takes pride in his practicality. Cyrano, though, criticizes de Guiche for removing his sash. In contrast to de Guiche, Cyrano takes no pride in being a noble. Instead he is proud about upholding noble principles. Because of this Cyrano sees being a target in a battle as something noble. He says, "But it's a source of pride to be a target." By proudly displaying his white sash, an officer can be an inspiration to his men. Cyrano gives an example of King Henry, who, despite the danger, displayed his white plume and thereby rallied his troops. To prove that he isn't just boasting, Cyrano offers to wear de Guiche's white sash. However, when Cyrano shows the sash, de Guiche uses it as a signal, which makes the cadets the target of the next attack. During this attack, the cadets will be badly outnumbered. Doing such a thing could be seen as despicable; again, de Guiche shows he has no pride in upholding noble principles. Instead he takes pride in his cleverness and practicality in killing two birds with one stone. By making the cadets a target, he will defend the army and increase the likelihood of Cyrano's getting killed or severely wounded, thereby getting his revenge on him.

Also in this scene, Rostand develops the theme of deception by showing how Cyrano's deception of Roxane continues to be weakened. Cyrano is now pouring his love, not Christian's love, into the letters he writes to Roxane. Because of this Cyrano actually cries when writing the last letter. However, as Cyrano's love for Roxane grows, Christian becomes suspicious. He notices the tear stain on the letter, and when Cyrano expresses the pain of not seeing Roxane again, Christian notices that he gets confused with his wording. At first Cyrano refers to himself as feeling this pain, but quickly corrects this blunder. This mistake makes Christian even more uneasy about Cyrano's letter writing.

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