Summary and Analysis
Act IV — Scenes 5-7
When the carriage comes to a halt, everyone is astonished to see Roxane alight from it. She has charmed her way through the Spanish lines and gaily explains that this siege has gone on too long. De Guiche and Cyrano try to convince her to leave, but she refuses.
The cadets are introduced to Roxane. She gives them her dainty handkerchief to use as a banner. She has managed to bring a carriage load of gourmet food with her, and with Ragueneau's help, she dispenses it to the cadets. They eat hungrily, but hide the food when De Guiche returns.
De Guiche announces that he has brought a cannon for the cadets. He says that if Roxane will not leave the encampment and return to safety he will stay, too. Cyrano cautions Christian to remember about all the letters written to Roxane in Christian's behalf.
Though absolutely necessary to the plot, this is one of the weakest points of the play. The only thing more ridiculous than Roxane's arrival on the scene is her explanation of how she managed the feat. The student of drama — particularly the student of playwriting — could learn a great deal about dramatic structure by attempting to re-write Act IV in summary form. The problem would be to accomplish the same thing as Rostand in terms of plot, but to avoid the more far-fetched elements, such as those contained in these scenes.
At this point in the play, it would be well to reassess Roxane's behavior. It is possible that one might mistakenly believe her to be shallow, frivolous, and self-centered. But this is not true. Although she is all these things on the surface, she is also extremely intelligent and sensitive. It is true that she came to see Christian, but apparently an equally important reason was to bring the food for the company of cadets. She flirted her way through the Spanish lines and concealed the food very cleverly. Also, she was not shallow when she managed to keep Christian's regiment at home for a time and deceive De Guiche. It must be remembered that she truly does appreciate Cyrano's poetry, and because of the letters he has written, true love has bloomed within her for the first time. We are seeing a new dimension of Roxane, quite different from the précieuse we were introduced to.
De Guiche and Cyrano have one thing in common — they both love the same woman; only for her do they join forces. In Scene 7, Rostand begins to change the audience's mind about De Guiche and show us that he is not really all-bad. He is at least sincere in his concern for Roxane. If she insists upon staying for what he is sure will be her death, he, too, will commit suicide by remaining with her. Thus does Rostand begin to imply that, at least at this point in his life, De Guiche's heart is filled more with love for Roxane than with lust. Rostand then brings the audience's attention back from the war to the letters.