The Count de Guiche enters the square, wearing a mask, and wonders aloud where the Monk could be. Cyrano has a sudden flash of inspiration. He pulls his hat low over his face, jumps down from the tree, and falls hard on the floor. Slowly, he gets up, pretending to be lost in amazement. The Count asks him what’s going on. Cyrano replies, in a Gascon accent, that he’s fallen from the moon. De Guiche is alarmed—clearly this unrecognizable foreigner has gone insane.
Here Cyrano out-tricks de Guiche at his own game of trickery. Though de Guiche disguises himself with a mask, Cyrano puts on a more elaborate mask of his own— disguising his face, affecting an elaborate accent, and acting like an entirely different person. Cyrano’s talent for impersonations is an important part of his character. It’s suggested that the “real” Cyrano is the vulnerable, sensitive man who loves Roxane, but Cyrano spends so much of his time and energy performing in different roles (the macho fighter, the extravagant poet, etc.) that these “appearances” also become a part of the “real” Cyrano. For Rostand, appearance and identity are in some ways inextricable.
Cyrano continues acting crazy, distracting de Guiche from the wedding taking place inside Roxane’s house. He rambles about space, pretending there’s a bear’s tooth stuck in his leg from the constellation of the Great Bear (the Big Dipper) and milk in his nose from the Milky Way, and also references the ancient Greeks Regiomontanus (a mathematician and astronomer) and Archytas (a mathematician and philosopher). The entire time, he prevents de Guiche from walking to Roxane’s door. Cyrano claims to have invented no less than six methods for flight, including building a hot air balloon, building a giant mechanical grasshopper, and covering his body with magnets. Cyrano says that eventually chose a seventh method for flying: waiting for high tide at night, so that the moon’s force drew him up away from the ground.
Once again Cyrano puts on a kind of play within the play. In this case, he has a very clear motive for his performance: he needs to both confuse and entertain the Count for long enough to allow the Monk to marry Christian and Roxane without interruption. Cyrano’s act is ridiculous, but there are complicated motives behind it. He nobly wants to remain loyal to Roxane and Christian by helping them, but he also seems almost intentionally self-sabotaging in order to prove his heroism to himself. It would be easy for him to let de Guiche interrupt the marriage, thus keeping Roxane free for Cyrano to pursue her under his own name, but instead Cyrano throws all his effort into an act that is simultaneously protecting his beloved and ensuring his rival’s victory. Within the performance itself, Cyrano displays his usual wit, inventiveness, and education, waxing poetical about the heavens (a typical subject of love poetry) just after he has been talking so ecstatically to the woman he loves.
The Count de Guiche hears Roxane’s voice, and there are sounds of claps and cheers from inside the house. Recognizing that Roxane and Christian are now married, Cyrano removes his hat and sheds his accent, coolly informing the Count that Roxane is now married to someone else. Roxane and Christian emerge from the house, holding hands.
Cyrano’s performance has been a success: he’s annoyed the Count, but also entertained him just enough to distract him for fifteen minutes. Cyrano has poured himself into a performance that ultimately makes him miserable: he’s helping the love of his life, Roxane, marry someone else.