Cyrano de Bergerac | Study Guide

Edmond Rostand

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Cyrano de Bergerac | Act 5, Scenes 4–6 | Summary

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Summary

Act 5, Scene 4

As Roxane waits for Cyrano at the convent, she expresses surprise that he is late. Soon a nun announces him.

Act 5, Scene 5

Cyrano looks pale as he walks in with difficulty. He has his hat pulled down over his eyes, as if trying to hide something about his appearance. Roxane wonders why he is late. Cyrano says someone held him up and refers to this entity as a she. When Sister Martha approaches Cyrano, she notices something alarming about his visage. Cyrano whispers to her not to say anything to Roxane. Cyrano asks Sister Martha to pray for him, which surprises Roxane. The nun leaves, and Cyrano notices the falling leaves.

Roxane asks Cyrano for news of the world. Cyrano mentions several events, but as he does so he gets gradually weaker. Suddenly he stops talking and slumps in his chair. Alarmed, Roxane rushes to him. Cyrano looks at Roxane and claims his old wound from Arras is bothering him. Roxane implies that her wound is in her heart and touches the letter covering her breast. Cyrano asks if he can read the letter, and Roxane reluctantly agrees. Cyrano reads the lovely letter, which he wrote for Christian as a letter of parting for Roxane, because Christian felt he would die in the battle of Arras. However, as Cyrano reads, his voice becomes filled with passion. Roxane recognizes this voice. She then realizes it's too dark for Cyrano to read the letter, but he still recites the words as if by heart. Roxane realizes Cyrano wrote all the love letters for Christian. Cyrano tries to deny this, but Roxane insists that he loves her. Cyrano replies, "My dearest love, I never loved you." Roxane wonders why Cyrano has chosen this day to break his silence about writing the letters.

Act 5, Scene 6

Le Bret and Ragueneau enter. Le Bret calls Cyrano mad for coming to the convent because doing so will kill him. Roxane becomes startled when she hears this. Cyrano mentions the last news of the day, saying "Just before noon, Monsieur de Bergerac/Was murdered." Distraught, Roxane asks what happened. Cyrano mentions being struck by a "lump of wood." Ragueneau refers to Moliére's stealing a scene that Cyrano wrote. Cyrano reflects about his whole life being played off stage, "feeding the lines to others." He talks about telling Christian what to say as he courted Roxane. Roxane claims Cyrano must live because she loves him. Cyrano says that women, including his mother, never treated him with affection. In fact, most women mocked his appearance. At least Roxane was his friend. Roxane moans that she loves one man, and she's losing him again. Cyrano notices the moon and says he will be going there instead of heaven. Le Bret rails about a mighty heart like Cyrano dying in this manner. Cyrano says he must not keep the moon waiting. Mustering his last bit of strength, Cyrano stands and draws his sword. He gives a speech about fighting compromise, spite, cowardice, and stupidity as he whirls his sword around his head. He staggers and falls into the arms of Le Bret and Ragueneau. Cyrano says that death can take everything from him except one thing, which he will take into God's presence. Roxane gently kisses Cyrano on his brow and asks, "What, dearest?" Cyrano smiles at her and replies, "My panache."

Analysis

In Act 5, Scenes 5 and 6, Rostand further explores the theme of deception by depicting the revelation of truth on several levels. Scene 5 starts with a deception, namely Cyrano's pretending to be healthy when in fact he is dying from a head wound. So, when Sister Martha notices that he is gravely ill, Cyrano whispers to her not to let Roxane know. And when Cyrano reads the love letter, he stills attempts to maintain the deception that Christian wrote this letter. However, Cyrano's true emotions get the better of him, and he cannot help but reveal his passion for Roxane as he reads to her. As a result, the letter of parting supposedly written by Christian 15 years ago becomes an actual letter of parting for Cyrano in the present. Despite Cyrano's denials, Roxane knows he wrote this letter and all the other ones from Christian and so realizes that Cyrano loves her. Thus, the truth finally comes to the surface.

Still trying to desperately maintain the deception, Cyrano is caught in a contradiction when he says, "My dearest love, I never loved you." By saying this, Cyrano acknowledges the paradox of his own trap. Afraid of being rejected by Roxane, Cyrano has hidden his love from her. However, when she insists that he loves her, Cyrano tries in a loving way to contradict her and thereby shows his love while attempting to deny it. After this the final deception is exposed when Roxanne realizes that Cyrano is mortally wounded.

During this revelation of the truth, the symbol of autumn leaves plays a key role. Just before Cyrano arrives, Roxane flicks away a leaf that has fallen on her tapestry. The leaf foreshadows the dying that is to come. Later, Cyrano reflects on the leaves falling to the ground and the gracefulness of this type of decay, thereby hinting at how he approaches his own death. So, by using autumn leaves as a symbol of decay and death, Rostand adds sadness and poignancy to the revelation of the truth. Roxane and Cyrano reveal their love for each other as death is about to the separate the lovers forever.

At the end of Act 5, Rostand transforms the symbol of the moon from representing deception to representing truth. In Act 3, Scene 13, Rostand has Cyrano use the moon to help him deceive de Guiche. This deception involves an outlandish story about Cyrano's flying from the moon to the Earth. In Act 5, Scene 6 as Cyrano dies, he notices the moon and thinks about his prior deception, referring to taking rockets to the moon. However now the moon will be his destination for a different type of travel. Cyrano asserts that after he dies he will travel to the moon, where he'll meet people who are known for standing up for the truth against oppression, namely Socrates and Galileo. So, Cyrano suggests that the moon is a place where truth resides. Because of this, Cyrano, who has always tried to stand up for the truth (except with his deception of Roxane), will find his resting place.

In Cyrano's final speech, Rostand combines the themes of pride and beauty while using the symbol of the sword. Cyrano believes he is facing his final opponent, namely death. He knows death will win. Even so, his pride prevents him from facing death lying down. So, Cyrano stands, draws his sword, and fights for the last time the enemies he has faced all his life before death claims him—an act that emphasizes the beauty of Cyrano's soul. Despite facing overwhelming odds, Cyrano fights for the truth while wielding his sword, as always. Cyrano states, "Hopeless odds make the beauty of the thing." Once again the sword is used as a symbol of truth slaying hypocrisy and falsehood, as in the Bible, which often uses the sword as a symbol of truth. For example, Ephesians 6:17 states, "Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God." According to the Bible, the word of God is Truth.

Cyrano's final words, "my panache," emphasize his uniqueness or individuality. "Panache" means having confidence in one's own style or manner. Despite constant pressure to conform to living a life of compromise, Cyrano defiantly upholds his own uniqueness, which cannot be taken from him.

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