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MonkeyNotes-Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw
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THEMES

Major Theme

The main theme of Saint Joan is the difference between true religious faith and the hypocrisy of organized religion. Joan is a true believer, one who strives to do God's will in everything she does. In contrast to her, Shaw pictures organized religion, represented by the Roman Catholic Church of the fifteenth century, as manipulative and hypocritical. The Church leaders seem much more concerned about increasing their own power and authority than in doing the will of God. Ironically, the Church condemns and executes Joan for being a heretic, when in reality she is only trying to carry out God's will for her, while they are trying to protect their own power. With greater irony, Joan is really victorious over organized religion. Because the Church puts her to death, Joan is made a martyr and a saint for her purity of purpose and faith in God.


Minor Theme

Saint Joan also portrays the wickedness of political schemes and treacheries. Joan, who believed in the truth of God, is victimized by self-serving and corrupt men who fear her influence. To protect their own power in the Church and the State, they pay to have Joan captured and support her condemnation and burning at the stake.

MOOD

The general mood of Saint Joan is somber, but there are also instances of melodrama and humor in the play. Additionally, the plot is very fast paced, creating a sense of tension as well. The play, however, ends on a lighter note in the epilogue, where Joan returns to Charles in a dream twenty-five years after her death.

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