*Vaucouleurs castle (voh-kew-lewr). Castle of Robert de Baudricourt in which the play opens. A historical place, the castle stands near the Meuse River, between Lorraine and Champagne, not far from Joan’s home village of Domremy. The castle represents the first stage of Joan’s odyssey to fulfill her Lord’s commands; she must convince Robert to supply her with a horse and an escort to Chinon, where she wants to see the Dauphin, the heir presumptive to the French throne.
The seeming invulnerability of the Vaucouleurs stronghold is indicated by the furnishings of the first-floor room where Robert sits: a “plain strong oak table,” a “stout four-legged stool,” and a wooden chest. His position on a floor above Joan, which allows him to look down upon her in the lower courtyard, indicates his social superiority. A doorway leads to a winding stair to the courtyard, where Joan waits impatiently for an audience with Robert. When Robert’s knight Bertrand de Poulengy enters the castle, he places the stool between the table and the window, just as he acts as an intermediary between Joan and Robert.
Although he is weak-willed, Robert tries to be as imposing as his castle when he finally admits Joan, who easily deflects his arguments with her presumption that her miraculous mission and her logical reasons will enlighten him. This scene represents the triumph of human reason over class snobbery, and identifies Joan as the herald of democracy.
*Chinon (sheeh-NON). Town in Touraine where Joan meets the Dauphin. The curtain that separates the antechamber in which the second scene takes place from the Chinon throne room hints at the curtains that screen the realities of power from ostensible ones. Immature and perhaps illegitimate, the Dauphin is ignored by the real powers in France—his government ministers and the leaders of the Church. To test Joan’s claims that she has been sent by...
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