Cyrano greets Roxane, who takes off her mask. Roxane tells Cyrano that she has come to meet him in order to think him for dueling with Valvert. She explains that the Viscount wanted to marry her—she and Cyrano laugh together about this.
Rostand increases the suspense here, as Roxane doesn’t come right out and says what’s on her mind. We sense that both she and Cyrano are nervous about what happens next.
Roxane tells Cyrano that she needs a confidant. She begs Cyrano to once again be the friend who’d play with her as a child. Cyrano nods and agrees. Roxane notices the cut on Cyrano’s hand, but Cyrano brushes it off as a minor scrape. Abruptly changing topic, Roxane tells Cyrano that she is in love with someone who doesn’t know it. Cyrano becomes excited as Roxane tells him this—all he can say is “Ah!” Then, Roxane reveals that this man is Baron Christian de Neuvillette. Just as Roxane tells Cyrano this, the Duenna walks back into the shop, having eaten all the cakes.
We now realize that Roxane and Cyrano have known each other since they were small children. Unlike Christian, who sees Roxane from across the room and falls for her instantly, Cyrano knows and loves every aspect of Roxane’s mind, spirit, and personality—as well as her past. Just when we’re sure that Cyrano is the perfect match for Roxane, Rostand introduces a major twist in the plot: Roxane loves Christian instead. (Modern readers are so used to this kind of plot twist in romantic comedies, however, that it probably doesn’t register as a “twist” at all.)
Cyrano asks Roxane what she sees in Christian. She explains that he is very handsome, but Cyrano points out that anyone can be handsome, even if they’re a fool. Nevertheless, Cyrano tells Roxane that he’ll befriend Christian and determine if he loves Roxane. Roxane is overjoyed to hear this. She also convinces Cyrano to ensure that Christian, a cadet soldier, doesn’t get into any duels. Roxane thanks Cyrano again and again for being a good friend to her. With this, she and the Duenna exit, leaving Cyrano alone.
The dominant kind of humor in the first half of the play is dramatic irony—that is, we know that Cyrano loves Roxane, but Roxane doesn’t know this. Here, it’s so obvious to us that Cyrano is trying to discourage Roxane from loving Christian, but Roxane doesn’t follow at all. Depressingly, Cyrano must now be loyal to his own rival, Christian, because he’s promised Roxane as much.