Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 4, Scenes 5–8 | Summary



Act 4, Scene 5

Cyrano, de Guiche, Christian, and the cadets are all shocked to see Roxane arrive by carriage. De Guiche tells her she can't stay. Roxane refuses to leave. Cyrano asks how she got to their encampment. Roxane explains that she traveled in her carriage through enemy lines. When the Spanish stopped her, and asked her where she was going, she said, "To see my lover." Being gallant souls, the Spaniards allowed her to pass. De Guiche again insists she must leave. Roxane learns that Cyrano's cadets are about to be attacked and most of them will probably be killed. She also realizes that de Guiche intentionally placed the cadets in this precarious situation to get his revenge on Cyrano. Even so Roxane refuses to leave. The cadets vow to protect Roxane. Upset, de Guiche leaves to check the cannon.

Act 4, Scene 6

Carbon introduces the cadets to Roxane. She gives her handkerchief as a banner for the cadets. Roxane then reveals that she has brought a lot of food with her. Ragueneau gets out of the carriage, and the cadets cheer him. He and Roxane start to distribute food to the soldiers. Cyrano tells Christian that they have to talk. But, Christian is too busy helping Roxane to speak to Cyrano. The grateful soldiers begin to devour the food and drink. Christian asks Roxane why she came. She says she will explain later after attending to the soldiers. When Cyrano sees de Guiche approach, he tells the cadets to hide the food and drink, which they do.

Act 4, Scene 7

De Guiche enters and smells something good. When he talks to some cadets, he finds them unexpectedly cheerful, which puzzles him. De Guiche again asks Roxane to leave, but she says no. Because he cannot leave a woman in danger, de Guiche says he will stay and fight with the cadets. Impressed, the cadets offer their food and drink to de Guiche. However, de Guiche haughtily refuses to eat the leavings of the cadets. While de Guiche and Roxane review the pikemen (soldiers with pikes whom Carbon has put in formation), Christian asks Cyrano what he wants to talk about. Cyrano admits he wrote more letters to Roxane than Christian realizes. He also confesses he went through enemy lines to deliver the letters. Christian wonders how often Cyrano wrote these letters. Cyrano replies that he wrote every day and sometimes twice a day, and Christian is shocked that he would risk his life in this way. Roxane rushes to Christian as Cyrano retreats to his tent.

Act 4, Scene 8

Christian asks Roxane why she took the risk of coming through enemy line to meet him. Roxane says his letters inspired her to do this. This answer unnerves Christian. Roxane gushes, "Each word was like a flame burning me up./Love so sincere, so strong." Roxane goes on to explain that at first she loved Christian because he is handsome. Soon she began to love his soul as much as his good looks. But influenced by the letters, she has come to love Christian's soul much more than his outer attractiveness. In fact Roxane claims Christian could become ugly, and she would love him as much as ever. This answer horrifies Christian, but he tries to hide his emotions from Roxane. Too upset to keep speaking with Roxane, Christian tells her to talk to the cadets.


In Act 4, Scenes 5 to 6, Rostand continues to explore the theme of beauty by contrasting the beauty of love as shown by Roxane with the ugliness of selfishness as shown by de Guiche. As the previous scenes show, de Guiche intentionally placed the cadets in a hopeless situation for selfish motives—he wants to get revenge on Cyrano. Although the cadets are not fully aware of de Guiche's motives, they sense that he is a haughty, selfish man and, because of this, they have little desire to fight for him. In contrast, the arrival of Roxane inspires the cadets. She has risked being killed because of her love for Christian, and because of this love, she treats Christian's fellow soldiers with sympathy and concern. For example, she brings food with her to feed the soldiers. The cadets admire the beauty of Roxane's love, selflessness, and consideration. As a result, they ask for her handkerchief to use as a banner, which she gives to them. Rostand, therefore, is showing that a person who puts noble ideals into practice inspires people much more than a leader who has a superior, selfish attitude.

In Act 4, Scene 7, when de Guiche stays to fight with the soldiers to protect Roxane, his attitude seems to change from one of selfishness to one of consideration for others. But this change is most likely motivated by de Guiche's pride in his noble rank rather than by a desire to be unselfish. De Guiche knows that as a noble he must protect Roxane. If he didn't, he would be criticized and ridiculed throughout French society. De Guiche shows his pride in his nobility soon after he talks about staying to protect Roxane. When the soldiers offer him food, he declines because he will not lower himself to eat their leftovers.

Rostand also interweaves the theme of beauty with the theme of deception through the relationships among Cyrano, Christian, and Roxane. As shown in the previous scene, Cyrano's deception of Roxane is weakening because he is allowing himself to express his love more fully in his letters to her. This reaches a climax in Act 4, Scenes 7 and 8. With horror, Christian realizes Cyrano has become obsessed with writing love letters to Roxane. Because of this, Cyrano shows no qualms in risking his life each day to deliver these letters. The facade of Cyrano's deceiving Roxane for Christian's benefit is crumbling. Instead, Cyrano is actually deceiving Christian by pretending to write the letters for him when in reality he is writing the letters for himself.

Cyrano seems to feel guilty about this situation, but he can't help himself. He has become entrapped by his fear of rejection. Because of his fear, Cyrano will not risk being spurned by Roxane for his ugly appearance. However, the beauty of his soul reaches out to the beauty of Roxane's soul. For Cyrano, this desire is so strong that he becomes consumed with pouring out his love for Roxane in his letters to her.

In a way, Christian has also become entrapped. He is essentially an honest person, but his soul does not have much depth. As a result, Christian has focused on outward beauty throughout his life. He knows he is handsome and sees this quality as what he can offer to women. In return, Christian is strongly influenced by the outer beauty of women. His version of love does not go much further. However, because he knows Roxane has depth of soul, he allows Cyrano to convince him to deceive her into believing that he has a deep, beautiful inner being. But this inner beauty for Christian remains secondary. He expects that Roxane, like himself, will always value outer beauty more. Because of this, Christian believes Roxane will always love him. But when Roxane claims she would love him even if he were ugly, Christian's world collapses. He knows Roxane doesn't love him and has never loved him. He has been living a charade in which he has been a puppet controlled by Cyrano. Roxane really loves the puppeteer, not the puppet, even though she doesn't realize it yet herself.

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