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Scenes 9, 10 and 11 Summary
In an effort to educate the newcomer, the Cadets warn Christian de Neuvillette that he should never mention Cyrano's nose. Christian, however, wants to prove that he is brave. As a result, he interrupts Cyrano as he tells his friends about his fight at the Porte de Nesle. Christian then criticizes Cyrano's nose. Cyrano is immediately incensed at the daring young cadet, but when he discovers that the person interrupting him is the one Roxane loves, he controls himself at every interruption from Christian. Finally, he drives all the cadets out of the room to be alone with Christian. They expect Christian to be murdered by Cyrano.
Left alone with Christian, Cyrano introduces himself as the cousin of Roxane. He then explains Roxane's feelings for the handsome cadet. He asks Christian to write a letter to Roxane to express his feelings for her. Christian confesses that he has no verbal skills, especially when he must address a female. Since Cyrano is skilled with words, the two of them work out a plan to jointly woo and win Roxane. Cyrano will provide the words, which the handsome Christian will voice to Roxane. Cyrano then gives Christian the letter he has already composed to her, pretending that he has written it to some imaginary lady. He tells Christian to sign and send the letter as his own.
Christian embraces Cyrano with gratitude. When the cadets who have been waiting outside see Christian moving towards Cyrano, they are concerned and push open the door. When they realize that Cyrano is embracing Christian, they jeer at the sight. Lise's musketeer, who has come in with the cadets, insults Cyrano about his nose. Cyrano responds by hitting him.
Scene 9 opens with the cadets warning Christian that he must never mention Cyrano's nose in front of him, for he is very sensitive about its size and ugliness. Christian, however, does not heed their warning. Wanting to prove he is brave, he interrupts Cyrano and dares to criticize his nose. The other cadets are certain that Cyrano, the rash swordsman, will quickly take care of the brazen new cadet. The real heroism of Cyrano's character is then revealed. Aggressive by nature, Cyrano wants to strike Christian, but he controls his anger. Since he has promised Roxane that he will protect the handsome, young cadet, he must keep his word. Love has tempered his brashness and turned him in to a picture of patience.
Feeling he can never have Roxane and wanting her to have what she desires, Cyrano decides to help Christian woo her. When Christian confesses that he has no way with words and cannot possibly write Roxane an appropriate letter expressing his feelings, Cyrano gives him the letter he has written to her in the bakery shop. He tells Christian to sign it and send it to Roxane as his own. Christian is so appreciative of the gesture that he gives Cyrano a hug. When the other cadets realize that Cyrano has not punished Christian, they are disappointed in their leader and jeer him. Lise's musketeer even dares to criticize Cyrano's nose. Cyrano, however, will not tolerate ridicule from anyone other than Christian. He promptly hits the musketeer.
By the end of scene 11, Cyrano emerges as a much stronger character. When he needs to be, he is a man of self-control and patience. He also shows he is kind-hearted, for he wants Roxane to be happy. In contrast to Cyrano, Christian seems pathetically weak in spite of his attractiveness. The audience finds it hard to believe that Roxane could ever be truly happy with such a simple man.
Rostand's ability as a masterful dramatist is clearly obvious in these three scenes. He has carefully constructed the play up to this point to make a ridiculously ironic situation seem believable. The physically ugly Cyrano, who is intelligent, witty, and wise with words, is willing to help his competitor because Roxane has asked him to do so. Rostand has intentionally created Christian to be a total contrast to Cyrano. The extremely handsome cadet is slow, simple, and unable to express himself. Together, however, Cyrano and Christian make a perfect suitor for Roxane; Christian can supply the looks and Cyrano can supply the words. The arrangement will go on for years.