The Count de Guiche appears outside Roxane’s house. He explains that he is heading off into battle. Roxane wishes him farewell, and he is offended that she doesn’t seem more concerned for his wellbeing. De Guiche adds that since he’s going off to battle, he’ll be joined by the Guards regiment—the group headed by Cyrano. Roxane is horrified, as this means that Christian will be sent off to fight, as well.
Here Rostand contrasts Roxane’s selflessness with de Guiche’s selfishness. While Roxane thinks of the love of her life—a man who doesn’t actually exist, but whom she thinks of as Christian—and fears for his safety, de Guiche rudely asks Roxane why she isn’t more concerned about his own safety. Clearly he had hoped to impress her by risking his life in battle.
Roxane asks de Guiche if he’s ordering Cyrano and his troops into battle out of spite for Cyrano’s boasting and disrespect. De Guiche admits that he is. Roxane tells de Guiche that the best way to get revenge on Cyrano isn’t to send him into battle: a natural soldier like Cyrano would only welcome such an opportunity. Instead, de Guiche should keep Cyrano stationed at home, frustrating him enormously. De Guiche is extremely pleased with this idea, and he promises Roxane that he’ll keep Cyrano and his soldiers in Paris, as “proof of love” for Roxane.
The full extent of de Guiche’s villainy becomes more clear. De Guiche is willing to use his position to arrange a man’s death in order to avenge an insult. An honorable man would simply challenge Cyrano to a duel, but de Guiche probably knows he’d have no chance in such a fight. De Guiche’s blustering, overly aggressive manner contrasts amusingly with Roxane’s clever, measured conversation, and she manipulates de Guiche into saving her loved ones’ lives for a little longer.
De Guiche, now convinced that Roxane is on his side, tells Roxane that he’ll come to visit her in a few days, disguised with a mask (with his uncle Richelieu’s help). Roxane protests that de Guiche would be disgracing himself by leaving battle to visit her. She decides to allow de Guiche to visit her, in order to ensure that Christian stays in Paris. With this, de Guiche kisses Roxane’s hand and leaves.
Notably, Roxane is willing to sacrifice her own happiness and dignity for the sake of her beloved Christian. Like Cyrano, she’s fiercely loyal to the people she loves, and makes sacrifices to help them.
As de Guiche leaves, Roxane calls the Duenna and tells her to keep secret what she’s arranged with the Count. Cyrano must never know that Roxane has deprived him of a chance to earn honor in battle.
Roxane now has a secret of her own—she’s going behind Cyrano’s back for his own good. This secret elegantly balances out the larger secrets between Cyrano and Christian, and between Roxane and Cyrano.