Cyrano de Bergerac
Cyrano de Bergerac
by Edmond Rostand
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Cyrano de Bergerac The Second Act: The Bakery of the Poets Summary

  • This scene takes place at Ragueneau’s pastry shop, a spacious corner building. On the left is a counter with hanging ducks, geese, and peacocks. There’s a fireplace, and to the right of the stage, a door. Beyond that is a staircase that leads up to a dining room which we can see through open shutters. In the middle of this room is an iron hook that can be raised or lowered by pulley; various game meat hangs off of it, so it’s like a chandelier… for meat-eaters.
  • We join the scene the morning after the Cyrano runs off to kill 100 men. Ragueneau is seated in his pastry shop at a corner table writing poetry.
  • Much to his frustration, he repeatedly has to stop writing to do his job as chef. Much to the cook’s frustration, he gives his cooking advice in poetical terms (add a dactyl of soup, a caesura in between the rolls, etc.).
  • Ragueneau’s wife, Lise, enters with a stack of paper pastry bags; to her husband’s anger, we see that she has made them out of his poetry.
  • Lise snips at her husband for a bit about wasting time and money on useless poetic endeavors.
  • Ragueneau isn’t a happy camper, but as a customer waits, he has to pick which poetry to sacrifice as pastry-wrappings. He can’t bear to part with "Ulysses, when he left Penelope" or a sonnet to Phyllis, so he instead gives the customers more food and asks for the bag back.
  • He then laments that there is a spot of butter on Phyllis’s name.
  • Cyrano then arrives at the shop, where Ragueneau further displays his man-crush for all things Cyrano (mostly, he admires him for his swashbuckling in verse at the play last night).
  • Lise, in passing, shakes hands with him, notices something about his hand, and remarks on it.
  • Cyrano brushes her off; there’s nothing wrong, he says, but she comments that he must be lying.
  • Nervous for his meeting with Roxane, Cyrano passes the time by writing a letter to her declaring his love. Meanwhile, a musketeer entering the shop joins Lise (raise eyebrows now).
  • Ragueneau’s poet-friends arrive late for breakfast, bearing news of a gory sight at Port de Nesle, where eight villainous-looking scoundrels lay dead.
  • Cyrano is all, "Eight?! I thought there were seven!" but doesn’t reveal that he was the one to kill said scoundrels. No one seems to know who the big hero was.
  • Meanwhile, Cyrano has finished his letter to Roxane – but leaves it unsigned.
  • The poets, we see, have come to the shop with the sole intention of getting free food off of Ragueneau. He entertains them willingly while they chat of verse, at one point even reciting his own "Recipe for Making Almond Tarts" in rhyme.
  • When Cyrano asks (quietly) why Ragueneau puts up with their free-loading, Ragueneau admits he loves the attention.
  • Still waiting for Roxane, Cyrano takes Lise aside and asks her if, by any chance, she’s been sleeping with the musketeer.
  • She denies it, but not very convincingly. Cyrano tells her not to make a mockery of her husband anymore.
  • When Roxane arrives, Cyrano ensures that they are alone. He sends the Duenna away with sweets from the bakery.
  • Roxane starts off by thanking Cyrano for dueling Valvert the night before, and by reminding us all that Valvert’s patron, de Guiche, is trying to make her marry Valvert.
  • She reminisces about her time with Cyrano when they were children. Turns out, they used to play together in the gardens. Aw. Whenever he hurt his hand, she would bandage it for him.
  • At this convenient point, she just so happens to take Cyrano’s hand and realize he has hurt it again. He admits that it happened while "playing" at Porte de Nesle.
  • She bandages it for him while he swells with unvoiced love and calls her a "wise little mother," which isn’t Freudian at all.
  • Then… Roxane reveals that she’s in love with someone.
  • Yay!
  • It turns out to be Christian.
  • Oh.
  • At this opportune moment, the Duenna comes back in saying that she’s done eating the sweets. Cyrano sends her back out to read the poems on the bags, which she does.
  • Roxane says she’s afraid for Christian because of his hot Gascon temper. She wants Cyrano (a famous swordsman) to protect Christian (a novice) from folly and harm during his service with the Cadets. She also wants Christian to write a letter to her.
  • The disappointed Cyrano agrees to all this, out of his obsessive love for her.
  • Roxane leaves, oscillating between praising Cyrano for his heroic, hand-hurting efforts last night and declaring her love for Christian.
  • Now that Cyrano is alone again, Ragueneau and his poetry buddies join him.
  • Just then, the Captain of the Guards, Carbon De Castel-Jaloux, arrives with a group of cadets (this is Cyrano’s company). The Captain quickly praises Cyrano for basically being the greatest guy ever, and everyone oohs and ahhs over his impossible victory last night.
  • Christian is there, too.
  • Adding to the mix, de Guiche and his cronies arrive to congratulate Cyrano. At his Captain’s request, Cyrano composes an impromptu anthem about his men – the Cadets of Gascoyne. Keep this song in mind.
  • De Guiche offers Cyrano a position with his uncle, Cardinal Richelieu, as a playwright. Initially Cyrano is tempted by the offer, but eventually declines when he hears the Cardinal will have the right to edit his work. (Edit!? The nerve!)
  • De Guiche eventually admits that he’s the one who hired the 100 men to assassinate Lignière. However, he justifies his action on the grounds that he is too lordly to carry out such a base task (as killing someone) on his own.
  • We’re still waiting to hear why he needed 100 men to do it, but whatever.
  • This completely lame excuse angers Cyrano; de Guiche quickly takes his leave, before our hero can pounce on him.
  • Le Bret asks Cyrano why he insists on making the whole world his enemy. (Sound familiar?)
  • Cyrano replies with a grand ode (sigh) that discourses on his pride and love of freedom.
  • Meanwhile, Christian is warned by several of his peers never to insult Cyrano’s nose on pain of death. As if he hadn’t figured that out yet.
  • Christian snubs this advice and pokes fun at Cyrano’s nose.
  • Cyrano, enraged, nevertheless remembers his promise to Roxane and tolerates Christian’s insults.
  • Adding insult to, well, insult, Christian continually interrupts as Cyrano tries to tell the heroic story of his victory the night before. This wouldn’t be so bad if said interruptions weren’t primarily remarks about Cyrano’s nose.
  • The other cadets watch in fascination, waiting for Cyrano to bust out.
  • Cyrano takes it like a man. For about two minutes. Then he says something along the lines of "Arghhhhhhhh!!!!!!!!"
  • The rest of the men quickly clear the room, leaving Cyrano alone with soon-to-be-dead-meat Christian.
  • Once the men are alone, Cyrano reveals to Christian that, in fact, he’s not going to cut him up into little pieces. Rather, he tells him that Roxane is in love with him. All he has to do is write the woman a letter.
  • Very sadly, Christian cannot speak or write well to women, as he gets nervous.
  • Cyrano, ever the gentleman, offers to write on Christian’s behalf, but doesn’t disclose that he, too, is in love with the woman in question.
  • The two men become fast friends under this alliance, apparently forgetting all about the nose jokes from minutes before.
  • When the cadets return, they find Cyrano and Christian hugging.
  • This would be great, except the men take this to mean that they can now safely insult Cyrano’s nose.
  • One poor sucker goes first, but Cyrano immediately knocks him to the ground.
  • Glad to have the old Cyrano back, everyone stands around and chuckles, except for the man on the floor, who is likely weeping quietly into a pool of his own blood.

Next Page: The Third Act: Roxane’s Kiss
Previous Page: The First Act: A Performance at the Hotel de Bourgogne

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