Summary and Analysis
Act I — Scenes 5-7
As Cyrano eats the frugal "meal" provided by the adoring little orange girl, Le Bret warns him that his rash actions are making powerful enemies, but Cyrano refuses to be seriously concerned. He says, "I have decided to be admirable in everything." He then confesses that he is in love with his cousin Roxane, but that he is so ugly that he is afraid to try to win her hand. The only thing he fears is having his nose laughed at; for her to laugh at him would be a blow he dare not risk.
In Scene 6, Roxane's duenna enters the theater and asks Cyrano to meet Roxane. Elated, he makes an appointment to meet her at Ragueneau's pastry shop the next morning at seven o'clock. Cyrano is ecstatic; he feels invincible; he feels that he needs to fight whole armies.
Brissaille enters with the drunken Lignière, saying that Lignière, is in trouble. Lignière explains that his poem has gotten him into difficulties; Cyrano orders his entourage to follow and watch, but not to interfere. He will defend Lignière himself because he once saw his friend perform a lovely romantic gesture. Cyrano leaves the stage twenty paces ahead of the rest — officers, comedians, actresses, and musicians — pausing only to explain that it was necessary to send a hundred men to kill Lignière because it is well known that he is a friend of Cyrano's.
In these three scenes, Rostand finishes giving the audience the problem on which the plot turns. We already know that Christian is in love with Roxane and that he is afraid that he is not sufficiently eloquent to win her hand. Now we have the knowledge that the fabulous Cyrano also loves her — and he certainly has the language at his command to win a woman of her type — but he fears that she would not love him because of his physical oddity: his enormous nose.
The act ends on a very hopeful note, as far as Cyrano's love for Roxane is concerned. We see how a little encouragement in this direction increases his already monumental dash and daring. He gladly goes to fight a hundred men. The fact that Lignière is in trouble was carefully prepared for earlier, so this is no surprise. And we know that Cyrano is just the sort who would gaily and pompously lead his admirers to watch him fight a hundred men.
Although Cyrano does not appear until Act 1, Scene 3 — and actually only his voice is heard in Scene 3 — he has been described, and we are thoroughly prepared for him. Also, by the time Cyrano makes a physical appearance in Scene 4, Rostand has so completely established the character that we are more delighted than surprised by his extravagances. Rostand has, in addition, established so much sympathy for his main character that we hope that Roxane is going to confess her love for him and not merely warn him of some plot or give him some other cousinly message. This is one of Rostand's most artful strokes, and one of his secrets of making fantastic, romantic nonsense believable.