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Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 4, Scenes 9–10 | Summary



Act 4, Scene 9

Christian meets with Cyrano near his tent. Christian says Roxane doesn't love him, but instead loves Cyrano. Cyrano replies, "You can't have understood her." Christian claims that Roxane loves Cyrano's words, which mean she loves Cyrano. Christian also insists that Cyrano loves Roxane. At first Cyrano denies this but then admits he does love Roxane. Christian encourages Cyrano to tell Roxane about his feelings for her. Roxane said she would love Christian even if he were ugly. Cyrano has trouble believing she actually meant this. If he can't be loved for who he really is, Christian doesn't want to be loved at all. He says Roxane has to choose between him and Cyrano. Christian tells Roxane that Cyrano has something important to talk to her about and exits.

Act 4, Scene 10

Roxane asks Cyrano what he wants to talk about. Cyrano wonders if Roxane really means what she said about loving Christian even if he were ugly. Roxane says she does mean it. Barely able to believe this, Cyrano seems about to tell Roxane about his love for her. But Le Bret interrupts Cyrano and whispers something to him. In anguish, Cyrano says, "Too late!" Cadets carry in Christian, wrapped in his cloak. Roxane wonders what Cyrano wanted to say. Cyrano says, "Nothing," and tries to emphasize Christian's noble soul. Roxane sees Christian lying mortally wounded and runs to him. Meanwhile the cadets are fighting the attacking Spaniards. Christian calls Roxane's name and then dies. Heartbroken, Roxane finds a letter on Christian, which was ghostwritten by Cyrano. Roxane pours out her grief about Christian's death to Cyrano, who says to himself that he has nothing left but to die, because she mourns for him in Christian's name. The Spanish tell the cadets to surrender, but they refuse. Roxane starts to faint, and Ragueneau holds her. Cyrano compliments de Guiche on his bravery. De Guiche tells Cyrano that French reinforcements are approaching. If Cyrano and his cadets can hold the line for half an hour, victory will be theirs. Cyrano says, "We'll do our best." De Guiche and Ragueneau lead Roxanne away. Cyrano rallies the cadets around the standard—Roxane's handkerchief. He leads a charge toward the Spanish.


In Act 4, Scenes 9 and 10, Rostand develops the theme of deception when Christian uses the truth in an attempt to end Cyrano's deception of Roxane. Christian makes three true claims to Cyrano: Roxane does not love Christian; Roxane loves Cyrano; and Cyrano loves Roxane. Although Cyrano admits he loves Roxane, his belief in the inferiority of his physical appearance is so deeply entrenched that he has difficulty believing that Roxane could really love him. Cyrano even remains unconvinced when Christian tells him what Roxane said about loving Christian even if he were ugly.

Herein lies the essence of Cyrano's tragedy. Cyrano believes in noble ideals and has the courage to defend these ideals and put them into practice. He demonstrates this many times, such as when he criticizes the actor Montfleury and attacks 100 men. Despite this, however, he does not have enough faith in his ideals to believe they are more significant than his ugly appearance. So even though Cyrano can write heartfelt, beautiful love poetry, he does not believe this love can defeat ugliness, especially where he is concerned. But, Cyrano is mistaken. According to Rostand, true love can indeed conquer ugliness. But because Cyrano does not believe this, he still clings to the deception that Christian has been writing the love letters.

Finally, after Roxane insists to Cyrano that she would love Christian even if he were hideous, disfigured, and grotesque, Cyrano tentatively shows a willingness to confess the truth. He appears to be about tell Roxanne that he loves her when he is interrupted by Le Bret. After this interruption, Cyrano decides not to confess his love for two reasons. First, Cyrano wants to give dying Christian some peace of mind. So, he tells Christian that Roxane really loves him. Second, Cyrano does not have the heart to tell grief-stricken Roxane that she is grieving a person she doesn't love. Doing this seems especially pointless because Cyrano believes he will probably die soon in battle. So, Cyrano comforts Roxane and then leads a reckless charge toward the enemy.

At the end of Act 4, Scene 10, Rostand focuses on the theme of pride through de Guiche and Cyrano. Although they are personal enemies, both of these men take pride in bravely fighting against the Spanish. Cyrano recognizes this pride in de Guiche and so compliments him, saying "My lord, you've proved/Your worth today." De Guiche also shows respect for Cyrano as a fighter and a leader by telling him to hold the line for half an hour. Obviously de Guiche believes Cyrano can accomplish this amazing feat. So, the pride shared by de Guiche and Cyrano allows them to form a bond.

At the end of this scene Rostand demonstrates how the soldiers are inspired by beauty for fight through the ugliness of battle. Cyrano and his cadets rally around Roxane's handkerchief, which represents her beauty and compassion. Inspired by these noble ideals, the soldiers head into fierce combat, a situation filled with ugliness and destruction.

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