Summary and Analysis
Act II — Scenes 9-10
Christian enters and talks with the Guards, and the other cadets tell him that he must under no circumstances mention or imply the word "nose" in Cyrano's presence. The cadets ask Cyrano to tell them about the fights of the evening before. Averse as he was to telling reporters or poets about his exploits, he enjoys telling his friends. While Cyrano is talking, Christian continually interrupts him by interjecting the word "nose" into the story. Cyrano becomes more and more furious but, knowing that Christian is the man whom he has promised to protect, he cannot give vent to his anger. At last, he can stand it no longer. He sends everyone out and explains that he is Roxane's cousin. Christian confesses that he is afraid that he will lose Roxane because he cannot speak and write well — he is only a simple soldier. Roxane is so refined that she will surely not love him. Cyrano says that together, with Christian's looks and Cyrano's genius, they make one perfect hero. Roxane will suffer no disappointment. He gives Christian the unsigned letter he had written, telling him to send it as his own — he has but to sign it.
Rostand establishes once and for all that Christian is no coward by having him try very hard to impress the cadets. He has been warned about the subject of Cyrano's nose, so he does his best to provoke the famous swordsman to a duel. There is humor in Cyrano's dilemma.
Cyrano's guess proves to be true. Christian confesses, in effect, that his brainpower is not the equal of his physical beauty. Cyrano generously gives the letter to him, beginning the deceit that will last for nearly fifteen years. Rostand brings this ridiculous situation about so carefully that it seems almost logical. He has prepared us for everything. The unsigned letter is at hand.
Is Cyrano being generous? Does he merely want Roxane to have what she wants? Does he really think that she could be happy as the wife of the brave but simple soldier? On the other hand, perhaps he really meant his defense of freedom speech in Scene 8. Perhaps he realizes subconsciously that what he needs is not a wife, but an unrequited love. His motive is one we will never know. Rostand nowhere implies that Cyrano ever adopts any of the false values of the précieuse and we must assume that his conscious motive is pure and noble. Perhaps he feels that Christian is worthy of Roxane. Or maybe his disappointment is so acute that for the moment he feels defeated. While there are many possible explanations, the play is a better one for leaving a few questions unanswered.