In Saint Joan: A Chronicle Play in Six Scenes and an Epilogue, George Bernard Shaw tells a historically faithful version of how Joan of Arc went from being a provincial adolescent, to military hero, to executed heretic, to rehabilitated venerable by the Roman Catholic Church twenty-five years later and to saint in 1920. Shaw’s prefaces and postscripts to the play explain his knowledge and admiration of Joan.
In scene 1, in 1429, Robert de Baudricourt, on the River Meuse in France meets Joan of Arc for the first time and sees her extraordinary personality, complete with candidly announced dream visions and messages from saints Catherine, Margaret, and Blessed Michael, who tell her to lead the French army to victory at Orleans. To get the job, she wants an audience with the Dauphin.
In scene 2, March 8, 1429, Joan is in Chinon in Touraine, where she asks the Dauphin to let her lead the French army. She must first go through the rough scrutiny of La Trémouille, the archbishop, Monsieur de Rais (Bluebeard), and Captain La Hire, who has stopped swearing along with the soldiers in the presence of Joan. In realilty, the trial for heresy of Joan begins here. The archbishop’s views represent the medieval Roman Catholic Church. “She is not a saint. . . . She does not wear women’s clothes.” Joan arrives late to meet the Dauphin and other members of the court, who are in disguise to test her. Joan instantly, and with casual humor, picks out the Dauphin.
Ominously, the archbishop says to Joan, “You are in love with religion.”...
(The entire section is 643 words.)