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Cyrano de Bergerac

Edmond Rostand

Act V, scenes i-vi

Summary Act V, scenes i-vi

Twilight begins to fall, and Roxane sits amazed by the voice with which Cyrano reads the letter. She gradually realizes that she remembers hearing that voice under her balcony. Meanwhile, as darkness falls, she realizes that Cyrano is still able to read the letter. Suddenly, it all becomes clear to her, and she exclaims that she has realized that it was Cyrano all along. He denies it, but she now knows the truth. She asks why he kept silent for so long, since the tears on the letter belonged to him. Cyrano replies that the blood belonged to Christian.

Summary — Act V, scene vi

Suddenly, Ragueneau and Le Bret rush in and announce with horror that Cyrano has come to the convent in a physically weakened state. Cyrano says he has not finished his gazette. He adds that on Saturday the 26th, an hour before dinner, Monsieur de Bergerac was murdered. He removes his hat and shows his head swathed in bandages. He says it is ironic that he, who longed to die laughing on the sword of a hero, took his mortal blow from someone who ambushed him with a log.

Ragueneau begins to cry and, outraged, tells Cyrano that Molière has stolen a scene of Ragueneau’s for his new play. Cyrano asks if the audience liked it, and Ragueneau says that they laughed and laughed. Cyrano says that his role in life has been to inspire others: Molière has genius, Christian had good looks, but he is doomed always to be hidden beneath the balcony while someone else receives the kiss. Roxane cries that Cyrano cannot die. She says she loves him. But realizing that he is dying, Roxane cries out that she loved only one man in her life, and now she has lost him—twice.

Cyrano becomes delirious. He recites a cheerful, jaunty poem about his life and subsequently falls back into a chair. Roxane breaks into sobs. Cyrano pushes himself up and says that he will not die lying down. He rises and, leaning against a tree, draws his sword. He says that he sees the skeleton of death “daring” to look at his nose. He begins to fight against invisible enemies, calling out their names: Lies, Prejudice, Cowardice, Stupidity, and Compromise.

Cyrano declares that his enemies have taken all his laurels, but that in spite of them, when he meets God that night, he will carry one thing that no one can take away from him. Suddenly, he drops his sword and falls into the arms of Le Bret and Ragueneau. Roxane kisses him on the forehead and asks what immaculate thing he will take to heaven with him. As he dies, Cyrano opens his eyes and looks at her. He replies, “My white plume.”

Analysis — Act V, scenes i-vi

Act V is the play’s dramatic epilogue. Set fifteen years after the main action, the poignant tragedy of this act ties up the story line following Christian’s death. The setting of this section of the play is important—it takes place at twilight on an autumn day. Both the hour and the season connote endings, changes, and death. The -setting also serves as a metaphor for Roxane’s changing view of physical beauty. Her realization that Cyrano wrote the letters occurs only when she notices Cyrano reading Christian’s farewell letter in the dark. Once the outward visual signs lose their importance, Roxane hears Cyrano’s true voice and words. The metaphorical setting creates a highly sentimental ending. Indeed, one common criticism of the play is that its final scenes become swooning and melodramatic.