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.