Table of Contents
“Joan of Arc” written by George Bernard Shaw, is a play about a time when all of northern France and some parts of the south-east were under foreign control. In the title of the play, Joan was a peasant girl born in eastern France, who led the France army to several victories during the war. The courage and intelligence of Joan had inspired Bernard Shaw to make her the protagonist of the play.
Before beginning the play, it is very imperative to know that the main ideas highlighted are about the political situation of France at the end of 14th and 15th Century. The major emphasis at that time was the conflict between England and France, which were at war between 1337 A.D. and 1453 A.D. because Edward-3 of England and later Henry 5 claimed the French throne.
In the year 1429 AD, a young peasant girl known as Joan of Arc, or sometimes as the The Maid gave an interview to Robert de Baudricourt and she told him that she needs horses and armour to go to the Dauphin of France and to raise the siege of Orleans, a city held captive by the English forces.
A Young Peasant Girl
Written in a conversational style, the play begins with Robert angrily shouting on Steward and asking the reason that why don’t they throw Joan out. He further states that they have fifty armed soldiers and dozens of strong servants to carry out his orders, so there is no need to keep Joan in the group. To his question, Steward states the reason that it is Joan who is really not afraid of anything and she is the only one who instils courage in all of them.
When Joan enters in the room, Steward glares at her, but Joan was not at all frightened. She continued to speak confidently and greeted Captain Squire. Without hesitation, she directly asked for a horse, soldiers and Armour.
Robert was filled with aggression as he considered Joan as a silly girl who had no idea of war. He threatened her that she will be sent back to her father with the orders to put under lock and key. To surprise, Joan was still not afraid of the threatening, which Robert warned her.
Instead, Joan continued to justify herself that it is not a big deal to provide her what she wants as a horse will cost sixteen francs. She doesn’t need a beautiful armour made of her size neither she wants many soldiers. The Dauphin will give her all she needs to free Orleans.
Robert was astonished to hear that she intends to free Orleans that even with the help of Monsieur de Poulengey to which she says that both Monsieur de Metz and Monsieur de Poulengey are ready to go with her.
Joan assures Robert that Jack and Polly had promised to go with her. Everything is planned properly and there would be no trouble for him as she had arranged it all. The only help she needs from Robert is to give the order.
After Joan goes out, Robert personally asks Poulengey whether he had seriously promised to go along with her or not. He further asks the reason that why he, Jack and Dick are comfortable and so confident in going with her and do they take her crazy idea of going to Dauphin seriously.
Robert is Doubtful
After realising that Robert is doubtful about Joan, Poulengey states the reason of his confidence by defending Joan that there is something about her and it may be worth trying to go with her. The Dauphin is in China, like a rat in a corner, except that he won’t fight and the English will take Orleans.
Poulengey continues and says that nothing can save them but a miracle and for him Joan herself is a bit of a miracle. He tells that Joan’s words are so determined that they have put fire into him.
Poulengey then calls Joan there, and Robert starts asking few questions to her in order to analyse her better. Robert asks various questions to Joan like what is her age, had she ever seen English soldiers fighting? Does she think that soldiering is anybody’s job? And so on.
But no questions were tough for Joan, and she answered all of them confidently. She told that the French soldiers are always beaten because they are fighting only to save their skins and the shortest way to save our skin is to run away.
She assured that she is going to teach them all to fight for France then they will drive the soldiers before them like sheep. She made sure that there will be a day when there will not be a single English soldier on the soil of France.
After all her statements and justification, Robert finally gave order to Joan and asks her to go to Chinon under the escort of Poulengey and other three gentlemen. Robert was extremely nervous as he thought that by believing a girl, whom he considers a big fool, is one of the biggest risk which he has taken.