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Saint Joan


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A: George Bernard Shaw Pf: 1923, New York Pb: 1924 G: Hist. drama in 6 scenes and an epilogue S: Vaucouleurs, Chinon, near Orléans, Rheims, and Rouen, France, 1429–31, and 1456 C: 22m, 2f, extrasJoan, ‘the Maid of Lorraine’, persuades her local squire that her voices require him to provide her with horses and armed support to cross territory occupied by the English, so that she may visit the Dauphin. Despite being young and feeble, the Dauphin is immediately recognized by Joan amongst a group of courtiers. Together with Dunois, the ‘Bastard of Orléans’, Joan drives the English from Orléans. Alarmed by her success, the English, represented by the Earl of Warwick, strike an unlikely alliance with the French Church authorities, represented by Cauchon, Bishop of Beauvais. The Dauphin is crowned Charles VII in Rheims cathedral, but, when Joan insists on driving the English from Paris, the French leaders withdraw their support. Joan is captured by the English and brought before Cauchon. After a lengthy trial for heresy, Joan condemns herself by insisting that she must follow her own judgement and not that of the Church. She is burnt at the stake, but her heart will not burn. In the Epilogue 25 years later she appears in a dream to Charles VII. When other players in her life arrive, they are astonished to learn that she will be canonized in 1920. However, they do not want her back, and Joan wonders how long it will be before the earth is ready to receive its saints.

A: George Bernard Shaw Pf: 1923, New York Pb: 1924 G: Hist. drama in 6 scenes and an epilogue S: Vaucouleurs, Chinon, near Orléans, Rheims, and Rouen, France, 1429–31, and 1456 C: 22m, 2f, extras

Saint Joan is one of the most popular history plays of the 20th century, not least thanks to its rewarding title role. Characteristically, Shaw attempted to remove the romantic aura surrounding Joan of Arc and to present her as a simple, stubborn woman, endowed with admirable energy and determination. She is an embodiment of the Shavian life force, in opposition not only to the English but also to the orthodoxy of her own Church.

Subjects: Literature.


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Authors

George Bernard Shaw (1856—1950) playwright and polemicist


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