Cyrano de Bergerac Summary

The play also starts in the theatre, where the main character is preparing to watch a play. He sits near to his friends: Ragueneau, Le Bret and Lignière, a drunkard and poet. Another spectator is a young man named Christian. The friends are chatting before the start of the play. They say that the actor who plays the main role is Montfleury, is quite a mediocre performer. They wonder where is their friend Cyrano de Bergerac, a famous poet and notorious duelist, a hot-headed Gascon. Cyrano forbade Montfleury to appear on stage and spoil the great play with his acting, so if he sees the actor now he will be furious. In the meanwhile Christian sees a beautiful woman sitting in the theatre and claims he immediately fell in love with her even despite he never talked to her and doesn’t even know her name.

The play starts and Montfleury enters the stage. We see Cyrano, a theatre critic with a hair-triggered temper, who isn’t shy about telling (or rather shouting) his opinion to the face of the actor. Enraged to see the “foolish clown” on stage, he rushes at him and makes Montlery run away from the stage, thus ruining the play. The director of the theatre is shocked and desperate, he has to return money he received this evening - but Cyrano generously offers him all the money he has instead, as a compensation. The poor man has no options than to agree - Cyrano de Bergerac is not only a famous poet but a notorious fighter and a person with no patience.

But some of the audience aren’t so easy to convince. Some aristocrats, irritated by the sudden stop of the play, start to mock de Bergerac, using his major pressure point: his appearance and, more specifically, his huge nose. Cyrano knows very well he isn’t handsome, but uses his wits instead, responding with a brilliant speech about noses, other body parts and different flaws and virtues, then slaps one of the offenders and offers a duel to the other. As a true poet he turns the duel itself into another play, reciting an impromptu poem about the duel right while fighting, and, in front of the amazed audience, hits his opponent right with the last verse of this poem.

The audience adores him, but Cyrano leaves the theatre in the sad mood. He enjoyed duel for a while but now depressing thoughts overwhelm him again. Poor man is in love with his cousin, beautiful Roxane and he confesses to Le Bret that he know he shouldn’t hope for reciprocity. Suddenly they meet Roxane’s maid, she gives Cyrano a letter from her mistress. Roxane asks him to meet her tomorrow. The insane hope sparks in his soul: he is almost sure that Roxane finally saw his talents and his love to her. He agrees and appoints a date in Ragno’s cafe they both know well.

While the maid leaves, Cyrano meets Ligniere coming to them. Ligniere is drunk but he claims that a hundred of hired assassins chases him and he needs Cyrano to escort him home immediately or he is dead. Cyrano draws his sword and goes with Ligniere.

Later we see Cyrano coming to Ragno’s cafe. Ragno is a famous poetry lover, so he is always glad to see such a gifted man as Cyrano is. He starts a conversation, asking about the night battle. It appears that all the Paris is now talking about Cyrano’s bravery and skill that allowed him to fight the whole gang of assassins and defeat them. But Cyrano isn’t very interested in talk, all his thoughts are about the future talk with Roxane. He is not sure that he will be able to say her everything he wants, so he writes her a letter, declaring his love in the most romantic way possible.

Finally Roxane enters the cafe and indeed starts to talk about the feelings she has now… but not to Cyrano. She fell in love with beautiful Christian de Nevillet, the young man who watched her in the theatre. Shocked, Cyrano timidly tries to hint that her beloved may be charming but not as clever, brave and devoted as someone else she knows very well, but Roxanne now is blinded by her feelings. She refuses to hear about Christian’s possible flaws. Moreover, she tells that Christian is appointed to the same regiment Cyrano serves in and asks her dear cousin to take care about him, because she heard they can be cruel to the newcomers. Cyrano hides his feelings perfectly and agrees to do anything he will be able to, just to make Roxane happy.

Cyrano returns to his regiment. He is greeted and congratulated by other soldiers - they also heard about the night battle. They ask Cyrano to tell the whole story and he starts - but one of the newcomers, young and handsome, lightly mocks him, saying the word “nose” here and there - and everyone in the regiment knows that this word is dangerous to say in Cyrano’s presence. The soldiers start to whisper behind the newcomer’s back, waiting for Cyrano to tear him apart after he finishes boasting.

Cyrano demands to leave them alone and the other soldiers leave the room. But, to Christian’s surprise, Cyrano embraces him instead of starting a fight and says that the man who his cousin loves, is like a brother to him. Learning that Cyrano is talking about Roxane, Christian begs to forgive him for all the mockery and confesses that he loves Roxane and dreams to marry her one day. Cyrano encourages him to write a letter to Roxane, but Christian says that he is a good soldier but an awful writer, he doesn’t know how to arouse romantic feelings and say something women dream of. Cyrano offers Christian to become his writer and gives away his own letter, full of his genuine feelings to Roxane, but not yet signed. Even this doesn’t make Christian suspicious, he gladly and gratefully signs the letter.

The other soldiers finally enter the room, expecting to see the offender beaten to half-death, but are shocked to see the two talking peacefully. One of the soldiers thinks that now everyone can mock Cyrano safely, says the word “nose” and receives a slap immediately.

Roxane is enchanted with the eloquent letter she received from Christian. She appoints him a date at night near her house. Christian comes and Cyrano follows him, staying in the shadow. Christian stays under the balcony and tries to say something but it turns into undecipherable babbling. Roxane is ready to leave, but Cyrano comes closer and, hiding behind the leaves, quietly whispers the words Roxane would be delighted to hear. Christian repeats this aloud and Roxane, fascinated by Cyrano’s words, agrees to give a kiss to her beloved - right before the silent Cyrano.

But Christian isn’t the only one who seeks Roxane’s love. Another one is the powerful (and also elderly and married) Count de Guiche, commander of the regiment Cyrano and Christian serve in. De Guiche sends a monk to Roxane with another letter where he asks her for a date before the whole regiment departs to the war. Roxane immediately comes up with a plan of ending his advances once and for all. Pretending to read the letter aloud she changes the words, saying that it is an order for the monk to immediately conduct a wedding ritual for her and Christian. The monk obeys what he think is the order of his master.

De Guiche is so sure that Roxane will agree that he follows the monk. Cyrano, knowing the whole plan of his cousin, has to wear a mask and play a madman to distract and slow De Guiche down. Cyrano is a great actor indeed and when Count comes the couple is already married and shares their first kiss as husband and wife. Cyrano throws away his mask showing de Guiche that he was skillfully tricked in the most offensive way. But de Guiche, though holding his temper, decides to play another trick and, as a commander, orders to Cyrano and Christian to go to the barracks and stay there until they march away from Paris. He mocks Christian, who embraces Roxane in disbelief, telling him that the newlyweds will wait for their wedding night for a long time.

The regiment departs to the war. Soon it is surrounded by the enemy and sieged. The soldiers are starving. Cyrano does his best to keep their spirit high, he is cheerful, optimistic and encourages everyone. But he has another mission he appointed himself to: every night Cyrano, secretly from Christian and others, sneaks through the enemy lines to send another letter from “Christian” - Christian promised Roxane to write every day and Cyrano doesn’t want to disappoint his beloved.

Suddenly Roxane herself appears in the camp. She is brave, reckless and in love enough to rush through the enemy lines, begging them to let her see his husband. Touched by her story, the enemies allow her to pass. Embracing the amazed Christian Roxane confesses to him that she was silly to love him only for his stunning beauty. Now she knows his true personality and feelings he really has for her. She tearfully promises Christian to be with him even if all his beauty will be suddenly gone. But Christian is shocked and not in a good way. Roxane’s words mean that she loves not him but Cyrano! Christian talks to Cyrano and decides they both have to tell Roxane the truth and let her choose - they can’t hold that masquerade forever. Cyrano agrees, a faint hope raising in his heart again: he heard that Roxane loves the one who wrote her letters for his soul, not appearance.

But right before they confess to Roxane, a stray enemy bullet shots Christian. He dies in the hands of his wife without saying a single word. The grief of Roxane is so strong and sincere that Cyrano decides to remain silent not to hurt his cousin even more. He puts his last letter on the Christian’s chest for Roxane to find it.

Fifteen years passed. Roxane is still in mourning, living in a monastery. Her life is ruined, but she is sure that it was impossible to find another man equal to her Christian. Once a week, always at the same time, Cyrano visits her to have a talk and tell her the latest news. The life of a poet is also unhappy. He didn’t marry either, his humor became bitter and sarcastic, making lots of people his enemies. He is poor and his career is also unsuccessful due to the trick he played to his commander. But one day he doesn’t come.

Roxane starts to worry: Cyrano never was late a single time for all these years. Finally he comes, deathly pale and weak, barely standing. After greeting his cousin and listening to her news, he asks her permission to read the last letter of Christian. Roxane agrees, but before she takes the letter, Cyrano starts to recite it - he knows every letter he wrote to Roxane while pretending to be Christian. Finally, Roxane realizes that it all was the play Cyrano arranged for her and played for all these years. The woman, unable to hold her feelings, tearfully asks him why he decided to break the secret now.

Cyrano silently takes his hat off: his head is tied with bandage covered with blood. He says sarcastically that today the poet de Bergerac was killed by the log thrown at him from the roof by his enemies. Roxane rushes to him, begging him not to leave her, declaring her love to him and kissing Cyrano, but love can’t save him. He dies as spectacularly as he lived, with the sword in his hand and with his last verses on his lips.