Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 4, Scenes 1–3 | Summary

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Summary

Act 4, Scene 1

At Arras Cyrano's cadets sleep in their encampment. Carbon and Le Bret complain about the lack of food. Carbon asks Le Bret not to talk too loudly for fear of waking the cadets. If the cadets are sleeping, they won't feel how hungry they are. Cyrano arrives. He has gone through enemy lines to deliver a letter for Roxane. Cyrano has delivered a letter to her in this way each day during the siege, thereby fulfilling his promise that Christian would write every day. Cyrano warns that the Spanish appear to be getting ready to attack. He then goes in his tent to write another letter.

Act 4, Scene 2

Awakened by reveille, the cadets complain about starving. One cadet has been hunting, and another has been fishing. But they catch only a sparrow and a stickleback. The cadets ask Cyrano for help.

Act 4, Scene 3

Cyrano tries to help the cadets deal with their hunger by appealing to their pride as fighting Gascons. Then he has a man play an old Gascony tune on a fife, which makes the cadets cry from homesickness. Cyrano says crying from being homesickness is better than crying from hunger. As de Guiche approaches, the cadets express their dislike for him. Cyrano tells the cadets to act in a carefree manner by playing cards and dice so de Guiche won't see them suffer.

Analysis

In Act 4, Scenes 1 to 3, Rostand brings ugliness to the forefront. In contrast to the pleasant settings of the previous acts, the author emphasizes the harshness of the setting of Act 4. Cyrano and his cadets are in the middle of a long siege and are starving to death. To counteract this starvation, Cyrano draws on their pride and sense of beauty. First, Cyrano counters the cadets' complaints about their hunger by urging them to use their pain to fight better. For example, one cadet complains that his belly feels like a drum. Cyrano replies, "Good! We can beat the charge on it." Then Cyrano appeals to beauty by having a man play a Gascony tune on a fife. Hearing this pretty music, the cadets are overwhelmed with sentiment and begin to cry. As a result, they have at least for a moment been distracted from their hunger pains.

Rostand continues to develop the idea that Cyrano is aware that he is ghostwriting love letters to Roxane for his own purposes, not for Christian. The author shows this through Cyrano's eagerness to write the letters, even though he has to deliver them through enemy lines. Despite the risk, Cyrano is spurred to write another letter as soon as he gets back to his camp. Such intense motivation must be caused by Cyrano's passion for Roxane, not because he wants to help Christian. So, Cyrano knows his deception of Roxane is ultimately for his own purposes.

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