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Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 5, Scenes 1–3 | Summary



Act 5, Scene 1

This act takes place 15 years after the end of the previous act, in autumn. In the garden of a convent, nuns walk here and there. The leaves of the trees have changed to red or yellow and many leaves are scattered across the ground. The nuns talk about how Cyrano teases them about their sins. Even though Cyrano is not religious, the nuns have an affection for him. Mother Margaret mentions how poor Cyrano is and how he wouldn't take any help even if it were offered. Roxanne enters with de Guiche. The nuns leave.

Act 5, Scene 2

De Guiche asks Roxane if she plans to continue living at the convent, grieving for her dead love, Christian. Roxanne says she will stay here forever. She also mentions that Cyrano visits her every week. Le Bret enters and says that Cyrano is ill. Roxane believes Le Bret is exaggerating, but he claims he isn't. Living in poverty, Cyrano continues to write against hypocrisy. Le Bret fears his loneliness, hunger, and cold might be the death of him. De Guiche expresses respect for Cyrano living his life the way he wanted, "always free in thought and deed." Even though de Guiche has achieved great success, he feels somewhat uneasy about his "dead illusions and regrets." De Guiche warns Le Bret that enemies of Cyrano might be planning an "accident" for him. Le Bret says he'll tell Cyrano about this. Roxane mentions how Ragueneau has also fallen on hard times. Ragueneau hurries in and Roxane leaves with de Guiche.

Act 5, Scene 3

Ragueneau informs Le Bret that someone dropped a log on Cyrano's head as he passed under a window. Cyrano is still alive but seriously injured. Ragueneau carried Cyrano home, where a doctor has treated him. The doctor cautioned that if Cyrano gets up, he'll die. Le Bret and Ragueneau go to Cyrano, leaving by a side door as Roxane comes in through the main entrance.


In Act 4, Scene 2, Rostand develops the theme of pride by contrasting the consequences of the pride of Cyrano and the pride of de Guiche. Fifteen years after the siege of Arras, Cyrano continues to take pride in living an independent life, which gives him the freedom to criticize the hypocrisy he sees. However, because he has refused to ingratiate himself to anyone, he lives a lonely life in poverty. So, his freedom has come at a severe cost. In contrast de Guiche continues to take pride in his high position in society. He has managed not only to maintain this position, but also to enhance it, thereby giving him "complete success." However, de Guiche's pride also comes at a cost. He cannot help but reflect sadly on his lost dreams. The autumn leaves emphasize de Guiche's sadness: De Guiche compares these leaves catching on Roxane's train to his "dead illusions and regrets" trailing behind him as he climbs the ladder of success.

Rostand uses autumn leaves as a major symbol in Act 4. In the stage directions, the author describes in detail the autumnal mood of the convent, with the trees turning red or yellow and dead leaves scattered over the ground. The leaves represent decay, grief, and death, but do so in a poetic, beautiful manner. This symbol speaks to the lives of many of the characters, including de Guiche and Roxane, who still grieves for Christian.

Through Roxane, Rostand also develops the theme of beauty. De Guiche wonders if Roxane plans to waste her beauty by living in a convent forever. Roxane replies, "Forever." This response suggests that Roxane intentionally wants to hide her physical beauty. Meanwhile she clings to the inner beauty of her lost love, whom she believes is Christian. For example, she wears his last letter over her heart, "like a scapular." Roxane, therefore, has idealized the inner beauty of her love for Christian, turning it into something sacred. From such a lofty viewpoint, a focus on outer beauty could be seen as vain and inferior. In the previous act, Roxane implies this with her claim about not caring if Christian were ugly. So, she remains in the convent, away from the secular world, in order to preserve her ideal love for Christian without being distracted by the vanities of the world.

Rostand also weaves the theme of deception into these scenes. For example, despite the intensity of Roxane's love for Christian, her love is still based on a deception. Cyrano also has fallen victim to a dreadful deception; someone has attempted to assassinate him by "accidentally" dropping a log on his head.

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