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Scene 3 Summary
Two gentlemen discuss Count De Guiche, a man of importance who is described as a morally flexible and coldly calculating Gascon. As the two of them try to flatter the count, they reference his ability to defeat the Spaniards in Flanders. At the same time, Christian is still planning to challenge De Guiche in order to defend Roxane's honor. As he reaches into his pocket to find his glove, he realizes that his pocket is being picked. He catches the thief, who offers to tell him about the danger Lignière is in if Christian lets him off. Christian agrees to the bargain.
The pickpocket explains that Lignière has written an offensive poem that criticizes an important person. As a result, he is to be attacked and killed on his way home from the theater; a hundred men are waiting to ambush him at the Porte de Nesle. Concerned about his friend, Christian leaves the theatre to find Ligniere.
After Christian departs, De Guiche and his followers go to sit on the stage. A page in the upper galley, wanting to have some fun, lifts the wig off of one of the followers with a fishing hook. Although the prank causes much laughter in the audience, the theater soon grows silent with the arrival of Cardinal Richelieu. Now the play can finally begin.
The curtain opens, and Montfleury begins his first speech. Suddenly, the voice of Cyrano is also heard. He orders the actor to leave the stage. Montfleury, encouraged by the audience, ignores Cyrano and continues. Cyrano then stands up on a chair and gives Montfleury a warning.
The third scene is significant for several reasons. It presents De Guiche as a morally flexible and coldly calculating man; later it will be seen that he can be extremely vindictive when he is exposed in his craftiness. The scene also indicates that De Guiche is a powerful man with many followers; it is suggested that he has enough strength to defeat the Spanish in Flanders. As a result, the scene indicates the growing problem between Spain and France and foreshadows the impending siege of Arras in which De Guiche will play an important role. In addition, the scene reveals that there is supposedly a plot on Ligniere's life. According to the pickpocket, he is to be killed on his way home from the theater as punishment for an offensive poem he has written. Finally, the scene introduces Cyrano in person. When Montfleury is giving his opening speech, the voice of the protagonist is heard, ordering the actor from the stage. When Montfleury ignores him, Cyrano climbs on a check and gives him another clear warning.
Rostand also creates moments of lightness in the third scene. When the meek Christian reaches into his pocket to find his glove before he goes to challenge the powerful De Guiche to a duel, he ironically finds his pocket is being picked. He then strikes a "deal" with the pickpocket. The author also adds a touch of horseplay as the pages use a fishhook to pluck the wig off the head of a burgher. The entire audience finds the antic humorous.
It is important to note that by the end of this scene the three men that have an interest in Roxane have been introduced. Christian thinks he is truly in love with the beautiful women; however, he is afraid that he does not have enough charm to win her affections. De Guiche, a married man, is also interested in Roxane. Since he cannot court her because of his marital status, he is encouraging Valvert, one of his weak followers, to pursue her; if he is successful in establishing that relationship, he knows it will be easy to carry out his personal plans with Roxane. Cyrano, the cousin of Roxane, also has an interest in her. The battle for her affections will form the major conflict of the play.