Cyrano de Bergerac: Act 4, Scenes 6-10
Act 4, Scenes 6-10
Act 4, scene 6
Carbon presents the Guards to Roxane, and asks her to give them her handkerchief to use as a banner, which she does. One of the men complains of hunger. To their delight, Roxane produces Ragueneau from her carriage, along with food for everyone. Roxane busies herself with ensuring that all the men are served with food and drink. Le Bret notices that de Guiche is approaching, and everyone quickly hides the food.
Act 4, scene 7
De Guiche returns and again asks Roxane to leave. When she refuses, he resolves to stay and fight too. The men are impressed by his courage, wondering if de Guiche too is a Gascon, and offer him some food. He refuses to eat their left-overs, and betrays a hint of a Gascon accent, making them all the more certain that he is one of them.
Cyrano takes Christian to one side and confesses that he sent Roxane more letters than Christian thought. He wrote to her every day, sometimes twice a day. Christian realizes that with each letter, Cyrano had to risk his life crossing enemy lines. He suspects Cyrano’s secret, but once again, they are interrupted by Roxane. Cyrano disappears into a tent.
Act 4, scene 8
Christian asks Roxane why she risked her life to come to the battlefield. She tells him that it was because of his wonderful letters. At first, she says, she loved him for his beauty, but then she was a foolish, shallow girl. Now, his beauty no longer matters, and she loves the soul that shone through in his letters. She would love him even if he were ugly. Christian is miserable at this news, as he realizes that it is Cyrano whom she loves. Roxane cannot understand why he is unhappy. As he tries to control his emotions, he sends Roxane off to speak to the men to lift their spirits before they die.
Act 4, scene 9
Christian tells Cyrano that Roxane no longer loves him; it is Cyrano whom she loves. Christian also says it is plain that Cyrano returns her love. Cyrano admits that this is so. Christian tells Cyrano to tell her their secret. Cyrano says he cannot, as he is so ugly. Christian points out that Roxane said she would love him even if he were ugly. He adds that Cyrano should not lose the chance of happiness just because he (Christian) is handsome. As Christian leaves to go to the sentry-post, he says that Cyrano must ask Roxane to choose between them.
Act 4, scene 10
Cyrano and Roxane discuss her conversation with Christian. Musket fire is heard offstage. Cyrano asks Roxane if it is true that she would love him even if he were ugly, or even disfigured. She confirms that she would. Cyrano is ecstatic, and is on the brink of revealing his secret to Roxane. Before he can speak, however, Le Bret rushes in and whispers something in Cyrano’s ear. Cyrano, anguished, cries that it is too late: he can never tell Roxane his feelings. Some men enter, carrying Christian. He is dying. Le Bret tells Cyrano that he was the first to die. Roxane, distraught, throws herself on Christian’s body. Cyrano whispers in his ear that he told Roxane their secret, and asked her to choose between them: she chose Christian. Christian dies. The battle begins all around them. Roxane notices a letter addressed to her in Christian’s pocket. It is Cyrano’s latest letter. Roxane praises Christian’s fine intellect, sensitivity, and gift for poetry to Cyrano. Cyrano reflects that he can die happy today, as she is really weeping for him.
De Guiche enters, with a head wound. Roxane notices that the letter in Christian’s pocket is stained with blood and tears. She is on the verge of fainting. Cyrano asks de Guiche to take her away, as he is going to charge against the Spanish. Cyrano also tells de Guiche that he has proved his worth. De Guiche agrees to take Roxane away, and tells Cyrano that if the Guards can hold the line even for half an hour, the main forces will have returned and they can beat the Spanish. A wounded Carbon runs in with some other men, with the news that the French line is breaking. Cyrano says the Spanish will pay for two things: Christian’s death and his own hopes of happiness. Cyrano plants the standard, Roxane’s handkerchief, in the ground, and rallies the troops.
Analysis of Act 4, scenes 6–10
The play’s action regarding Cyrano and Christian’s collaboration comes to a climax in this section. This escalating internal conflict is paralleled by the external conflict of the battle between the French and the Spanish.
De Guiche rapidly metamorphoses from villain to sympathetic character, even with a tinge of the hero. Inspired by Roxane’s refusal to leave the battlefield, he too decides to stay. In addition, he endears himself to the Guards by the trace of the Gascon accent that emerges in his speech, and his proud refusal to eat the other men’s leftovers. The men’s decision that he is a Gascon, just like them, and Cyrano’s appreciative words as he sends him away with Roxane, completes his redemption. Though the change in de Guiche may be considered too sudden to be convincing, its dramatic purpose is to remove him from the plot so that the action can focus on the main story involving Cyrano, Christian, and Roxane.
There is bitter irony in the fact that Roxane’s good news that she has risked her life to tell Christian (that it is Christian’s “soul” that she loves, and that she would love Christian even if he were ugly) is the worst thing that he could possibly hear. It tells him that in fact, Roxane loves Cyrano, and Christian’s one claim on her affections, his outward beauty, has become irrelevant. With this development, Christian becomes redundant. Cyrano’s chivalry is apparent, however, in his whispering to the dying Christian that he told Roxane their secret and asked her to choose between them, and that she chose Christian. Cyrano ensures that Christian dies happy and fulfilled in his role as Roxane’s lover.
Christian’s death does, however, push the irony and the tragedy of the play to new heights. It means that Cyrano can never tell Roxane his secret, as to do so would betray his friend, Christian, and make a mockery of her mourning. Cyrano’s anguished cry of “Too late!” on hearing of Christian’s death in scene 10 expresses his sorrow and despair that he can never be united with Roxane.