Cyrano de Bergerac approaches Roxane. He’s very pale, and wears his hat low on his head so that Roxane can’t see his wound. Roxane greets Cyrano happily and asks why he’s late—this is the first time he’s been late in fourteen years. Cyrano explains that he’s being hounded by creditors: he’s losing money, and can’t pay back his debts. Sister Martha passes by Cyrano, shocked that he’s so pale. Cyrano explains that he’s only pale because he broke his fast.
The way Cyrano wears his hat low on his head tragically reminds us of the way Cyrano played the same trick on de Guiche 15 years before. This time, however, the “trick” is tragic, not comic, and yet it is still another kind of “panache”—hiding his weakness behind a hat and bravely putting on an act.
Roxane asks Cyrano if he has anything to report from the outside world. Cyrano gives Roxane news about the King of France and a ball that the Queen organized. As he speaks, his face gets whiter and whiter. Suddenly, he stops talking and closes his eyes. Roxane, terrified that Cyrano is hurt, tries to wake him up. After only a few moments, Cyrano opens his eyes, explaining that his old battle wounds from Arras sometimes cause him to lose consciousness for a few moments. Roxane nods and says that she has wounds of her own—the memory of Christian.
. In the first half of the play, dramatic irony produced comedy. Here, at the end of the play, dramatic irony produces pathos and tragedy. It’s obvious to us that Cyrano is dying in front of our eyes, and yet this fact is equally inscrutable to Roxane and the nuns.
Roxane produces “Christian’s” letter—the letter that was stained with blood on the day Christian died. Cyrano begs Roxane to let him read Christian’s letter. Roxane agrees. Cyrano reads the letter out loud, barely looking at it. The letter talks about how Christian will die soon, but will always love Roxane. Roxane is amazed by the sound of Cyrano’s voice as he reads—she senses that she’s heard this tone of voice before, though she can’t remember exactly where.
Even after 15 years, Cyrano still loves Roxane, despite the fact that he knows the love will never amount to anything. His enduring and passionate emotion is yet another quintessentially “Romantic” quality of Cyrano, as many could see a kind of heroism in loving unrequitedly and without hope for so long. Cyrano’s loyalty to Christian is matched only by his love for Roxane.
Roxane then realizes the truth: it was Cyrano who wooed her fifteen years ago, using his wit and the power of his voice. Cyrano denies this, but Roxane knows she’s right: she remembers hearing Cyrano’s voice on the night “Christian” wooed her from outside her window. Before Cyrano can say more, Le Bret and Ragueneau enter.
The truth finally emerges, though Cyrano is still afraid to come out and say it even as he is about to die. His original feelings have only hardened over the last fifteen years—his love for Roxane, his guilt about Christian’s death, and his self-hatred for his own appearance—and he still feels that there is no chance Roxane could ever love him, especially as Roxane is still in love with the fictional character that he and Christian created together.