Summary (Masterplots, Fourth Edition)
In the theater hall of the Hôtel de Burgundy, a young soldier named Christian de Neuvillette anxiously waits for the beautiful Roxane to appear in her box. Christian fell passionately in love with this woman whom he never met. While he is waiting for her arrival, Christian becomes increasingly upset because he fears that he will never be able to summon sufficient courage to address her, for he believes she is as brilliant and as graceful as he is doltish and clumsy.
In the audience, also waiting for the curtain to go up, is one Ragueneau, a romantic tavern-keeper and tosspot poet, whose friends praise his verses to his face while behind his back they help themselves to the pastries that he makes. Ragueneau inquires of another poet the whereabouts of Cyrano de Bergerac. The actor Montfleury, Cyrano’s enemy and one of Roxane’s suitors, is to star in the play, and Cyrano threatened him with bodily injury if he appears for the performance. Cyrano, however, did not yet arrive.
At last Roxane appears. The play begins, and Montfleury comes out on the stage to recite his lines. Suddenly a powerful voice orders him to leave the stage. After the voice comes the man, Cyrano de Bergerac, one of the best swordsmen in France. The performance is halted abruptly.
Another of Roxane’s suitors tries to provoke a fight with Cyrano by ridiculing his uncommonly big nose. Cyrano, sensitive about his disfiguring nose, becomes the insulter instead of the insulted. Words lead to a duel. To show his contempt for his adversary, Cyrano composes a poem while he is sparring with his opponent, and when he finishes the last word of the last line, Cyrano staggers his man. Le Bret, Cyrano’s close friend, cautions the gallant swordsman against making too many enemies by his insults.
Cyrano confesses that he is exceptionally moody lately because he is in love with his lovely cousin Roxane, despite the fact he can never hope to win her because of his ugliness. While Le Bret tries to give Cyrano confidence in himself, Roxane’s chaperone appears to give Cyrano a note from his cousin, who wants to see him. Cyrano is overcome with joy. The place selected for the meeting between Cyrano and Roxane is Ragueneau’s tavern. Cyrano arrives early, and, while he waits for his beautiful cousin, he composes a love letter, which he leaves unsigned because he intends to deliver it in person. When Roxane appears, she confesses to Cyrano that she is in love. Cyrano thinks for a moment that she is in love with him, but he soon realizes that the lucky fellow is not Cyrano...
(The entire section is 1052 words.)
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