Cyrano de Bergerac: Act 3, Scenes 1-4

Act 3, scene 1
Ragueneau is sitting outside Roxane’s house, telling her Duenna that his wife has just left him for the Musketeer, taking what little money they had. Ragueneau tried to hang himself, but Cyrano found him, cut him down, and sent him to Roxane to be her steward. The Duenna calls Roxane; they are going to hear a talk about love. Cyrano enters with some musicians and begins to serenade Roxane, who appears on her balcony. Cyrano explains that he won the services of the musicians in a bet about a point of grammar. He is now bored with them, however, and sends them away.
Roxane comes down and discusses Christian with Cyrano. She says that she loves him, and that he is even cleverer than Cyrano in writing eloquent letters. Cyrano is disparaging about the phrases in the letters, and Roxane says he is jealous of Christian’s literary talent. The Duenna warns Roxane and Cyrano that de Guiche is coming. Cyrano goes into the house.
Act 3, scene 2
De Guiche tells Roxane that he has come to say goodbye. He is leaving tonight to go to fight in the war at the northern French town of Arras, which in 1640 was occupied by the Spanish. De Guiche is disappointed that Roxane does not appear to care that he is leaving. He reveals that he is the officer in command of the Guards, the company in which Cyrano and Christian serve. Roxane realizes that de Guiche has the authority to send Christian into battle. Her fearful response leads de Guiche to fool himself that she is concerned about him (de Guiche), whereas in fact, she is worried about Christian’s safety. Roxane thinks quickly and suggests that the best way for de Guiche to wreak revenge upon Cyrano would be to leave him and the other Guards at home while the rest of the army goes to war. De Guiche, convinced that Roxane loves him, leaves. Roxane makes the Duenna promise not to tell Cyrano that she has deprived him of a war.
Act 3, scene 3
Roxane and the Duenna prepare to go to the talk on love at the house opposite. She tells Cyrano that if Christian comes to visit her, Cyrano should ask him to wait. She reveals that she plans to ask Christian to improvise around the subject of love, but asks Cyrano not to pass this on to Christian, as she believes he would practice a speech beforehand. Roxane and the Duenna leave. Cyrano calls Christian, who has been waiting nearby.
Act 3, scene 4
Cyrano tries to persuade Christian to learn some lines that he has written, but Christian refuses. He is confident that Roxane loves him now, and he wants to speak to her in his own words.
Analysis of Act 3, scenes 1–4
Cyrano’s heroism is reinforced in this section by his compassionate treatment of Ragueneau after his wife runs away with the Musketeer. Cyrano saves him from a suicide attempt and gets him a job with Roxane.
Roxane is revealed as a quick-thinking and resourceful woman. She successfully convinces de Guiche not to send Christian into battle and persuades de Guiche that he is the object of her affections. She does all this without compromising her feminine honor.
Two elements in this section show the fragility of the love between Christian and Roxane. First, the audience knows that Roxane’s plan to get Christian to improvise on the subject of love is doomed to failure. Not gifted with verbal dexterity at the best of times, he has already stated that talking about love is utterly beyond his abilities. Second, Christian’s decision to dispense with Cyrano’s services and to rely upon his own words seems rash and premature, as he has shown no evidence of improvement on his last feeble attempts to converse with Roxane. However, his decision effectively throws out a challenge to himself to prove that he is worthy of her. The audience is held in suspense as it awaits the outcome.