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Lark


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A: Jean Anouilh Pf: 1953, Paris Pb: 1953 Tr: 1955 G: Drama in 2 acts; French prose S: Rouen, France, 1431 C: 17m, 3fJoan of Arc (‘the lark’) has been captured and brought to trial, but her judge Bishop Cauchon insists that scenes from her past should be re-enacted: her departure from her humble life in Domrémy, her persuading Beaudricourt to provide her with a horse and escort, her convincing the Dauphin to be brave and fight the English by putting her in command of the army. The Earl of Warwick is less impressed, believing that Joan merely provided a rallying symbol for people to go out and get killed. At last, the trial gets under way. Joan glorifies the contradictory nature of humanity, which is both heroic and cruel. The Inquisitor perceives this celebration of ‘natural man’ to be a serious threat to the authority of the Church. Cauchon persuades Joan to recant, but she feels stifled and shamed in prison. She withdraws her recantation, and is brought to the stake. Before she can be burned, Beaudricourt intervenes to insist that Joan should be seen in her moment of glory – the coronation of Charles as king of France. The play ends on a heroic tableau of ‘a lark in the free sky’.

A: Jean Anouilh Pf: 1953, Paris Pb: 1953 Tr: 1955 G: Drama in 2 acts; French prose S: Rouen, France, 1431 C: 17m, 3f

Strongly influenced by Shaw's Saint Joan, Anouilh's version follows the incidents of Shaw's play, mostly in flashback on a bare stage. The focus of Anouilh's treatment is on the trial and the threat Joan's belief in humanity offers to the Catholic faith. Both Christopher Fry's and Lillian Hellman's versions for the English and American stages tended to lessen the importance of this theological debate.

Subjects: Literary Studies (Plays and Playwrights).


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Authors

Jean Anouilh (1910—1987) French dramatist


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