(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

At Vaucouleurs castle, Robert de Baudricourt berates his steward for claiming that the hens stopped laying. The steward insists they will not lay until Robert talks to Joan, the Maid, who demands to see him. Robert finally admits Joan. She promptly requests a horse, armor, and some soldiers to take her to the dauphin. She already persuaded several soldiers to accompany her and convinced them that God sent her to save France from the English occupying force. Robert yields, and the hens immediately begin laying again.

At Chinon, the archbishop and the Lord Chamberlain complain about the dauphin’s irresponsibility. Bluebeard, a nobleman, tells about a cursing soldier who died after being cautioned by an angel dressed as a soldier. Charles appears, looking browbeaten but excited about Robert’s surprise. Almost everyone advises Charles not to see Joan, but he insists. They then decide that Bluebeard will pretend to be Charles, to see if Joan can pick out the real dauphin; the archbishop cynically remarks that such seeming miracles could be as useful as real ones. When Joan enters, she immediately spots Charles and tells him that she is sent by God to help him drive the English from France and to crown him king. Charles, full of doubts, tries to escape her but finally yields and gives Joan command of the army. Cheering, the knights prepare to head for Orléans.

Two months later at Orléans, Dunois’s French forces still did not attack the English because the east wind prevents their ships from going up the river. When Joan arrives, Dunois explains the military situation. Joan grasps the problem immediately and agrees to pray for a west wind to make the French attack possible. As she speaks, a page sneezes and everyone suddenly notices that the wind changed. Joan, overwhelmed by this sign, rushes with Dunois into battle.

In the English camp, Chaplain Stogumber and the Earl of Warwick consider France’s recent military victories. Stogumber resents seeing Englishmen beaten by French “foreigners.” Warwick complains that people are beginning to define themselves by their country rather than by local allegiances—a danger to both feudal lords and the Church. Warwick therefore hopes to collaborate with Bishop Cauchon, who represents the rival Burgundian faction in France. When Cauchon arrives, he and Warwick agree that neither feels happy about the imminent crowning of...

(The entire section is 981 words.)


(Drama for Students)

Shaw begins his preface to Saint Joan by announcing that Joan, though a professed Catholic, was in fact one of...

(The entire section is 1311 words.)