Cyrano de Bergerac
Act III, scenes v–xiv
Summary — Act III, scene v
Roxane and the duenna return. Roxane and Christian sit outdoors, and Roxane asks Christian to tell her how he loves her. He tries, but all he can say is “I love you,” “I adore you,” “I love you very much,” and other simple variations. Angry, Roxane goes into the house. Cyrano returns, ironically congratulating Christian on his great success.
Summary — Act III, scene vi
Seeing a light in Roxane’s window, Christian asks Cyrano for help. In the dark, Cyrano hides underneath Roxane’s balcony while Christian stands in front of it. He throws gravel at Roxane’s window, and when she comes out, Cyrano whispers words for Christian to recite.
Summary — Act III, scene vii
Moved by Christian’s words, Roxane then asks why he speaks so haltingly. Impatient, Cyrano thrusts Christian under the balcony and takes his place, still hidden in darkness. Speaking in a low voice, he confides in Roxane the things he has always longed to tell her. As Roxane becomes more and more hypnotized by Cyrano’s poetry, Christian cries out from beneath the balcony that he wants one kiss. At first, Cyrano tries to dissuade him, but he decides that he cannot prevent the inevitable and that, at the very least, he would like to be the one to win the kiss. Thus, Cyrano stands beneath Roxane’s balcony and persuades her to kiss him. Christian climbs up to receive the kiss.
Summary — Act III, scene viii
A Capuchin priest enters, having found his way to Roxane’s house. He presents a letter from de Guiche. The letter says that de Guiche has escaped his military service by hiding in a convent. Pretending to read it aloud, Roxane says that de Guiche desires the Capuchin to marry Roxane and Christian on the spot. The Capuchin hesitates, but Roxane pretends to discover a postscript that promises a great deal of money to the convent in exchange. Suddenly, the Capuchin’s reservations evaporate, and he goes inside to marry them.
Summary — Act III, scene ix
Cyrano waits outside to prevent de Guiche from disrupting the impromptu wedding.
Summary — Act III, scene x
De Guiche appears. Covering his face with his hat, Cyrano leaps onto de Guiche from a tree. Pretending to be a person who has just fallen from the moon, he distracts de Guiche with an insane speech about his experiences in space. At last he removes his hat, reveals himself as Cyrano, and announces that Roxane and Christian are now married.
Summary — Act III, scene xi
The couple comes out of the house. De Guiche coldly congratulates them but orders Roxane to bid her husband farewell: the guards will go to the war after all, and they will depart immediately. De Guiche triumphantly tells Cyrano that the wedding night will have to wait. Under his breath, Cyrano remarks that the news fails to upset him.
Roxane, afraid for Christian, urges Cyrano to promise to keep him safe, to keep him out of dangerous situations, to keep him dry and warm, and to keep him faithful. Cyrano says that he will do what he can but that he cannot promise anything. Roxane begs Cyrano to promise to make Christian write to her every day. Brightening, Cyrano announces confidently that he can promise that.
Analysis — Act III, scenes v–xiv
The balcony scene is the most famous scene in Cyrano de Bergerac. It is at once brilliantly funny and genuinely touching. The humor of the play becomes more sophisticated in Act III. In the earlier parts of the play, most of the humor stems from Cyrano’s outrageous behavior. Here, the humor begins to take the form of elaborate dramatic irony. (Dramatic irony is a literary device that occurs when the audience knows or perceives more than the characters do.) For example, Roxane believes Cyrano to be Christian, and de Guiche doesn’t recognize Cyrano when he claims to have fallen from space. The comic timing in this act is flawless. Cyrano’s aside about how he secretly does not mind that the wedding night will be delayed comes at just the right moment. Another important source of humor in Act III is parody: the balcony scene derives a great deal of its humor by ridiculing the famous balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet.
De Guiche, the play’s main antagonist, begins to influence the plot directly in this act. In Act I, de Guiche was in love with Roxane. Now, he takes steps to fulfill his love. At first, Roxane and Cyrano thwart those attempts. Roxane bribes the Capuchin, and Cyrano distracts de Guiche with his spaceman ploy. But de Guiche’s decision to send the cadets to war throws the whole plot into upheaval. De Guiche himself represents another reference to The Three Musketeers: in that play, Cardinal Richelieu is the principal villain, and here, the cardinal’s nephew turns into the primary antagonist.
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