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MonkeyNotes-Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw
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Scene Summaries With Notes

Scene I

The opening scene is set on a spring morning in 1429 in the Castle of Vaucouleurs. A panic-stricken steward comes rushing up to Robert de Baudricourt, the lord of the castle. He reports that the hens have ceased to lay eggs. He believes that this is a punishment from God since Robert de Baudricourt has refused to see Joan, the peasant girl from Domremy, who has been waiting at the castle for two days. Although Robert de Baudricourt is furious with the steward's accusation and his hint that Joan has bewitched everyone in the castle, the lord sends for Joan of Arc. They meet in the chambers of the castle.

Joan presents herself as a self-assured and direct country girl. She bravely demands a horse, armor, and soldiers. She tells Baudricourt that she wants to go to see the Dauphin and help raise the siege of Orleans. She claims that God has appeared to her in visions and commanded her to help with the attack on the English. She also informs him that she has already convinced some men to join her, including Bertrand de Poulengry, a solid and practical squire. De Poulengry convinces Baudricourt to do as Joan bids, for he feels that her steadfast faith will give strength to the soldiers. Baudricourt gives Joan everything that she has asked for and lets her leave. As soon as she departs, the hens start laying eggs once again. De Baudricourt is astonished and says, "She did come from God."

Notes

In the opening scene of the play, Joan, the protagonist, is introduced as a girl of sixteen or seventeen. She is devoid of any feminine guiles and is referred to as a brave, confident girl filled with valor and faith. Her short hair and soldier like clothes bear testimony to the seriousness of her purpose. She has come to Vaucouleurs Castle to ask for a horse, armor, and soldiers, for she plans to help crown the Dauphin as King of France and to aid in the attack in Orleans against the British, who now occupy France. She is convinced that the English are violating God's will by being in her country, and she is determined to drive them back to England. She will fight to the death to accomplish her purpose.


In this scene, Joan proves that she if a very confident young woman who is strong-willed and persuasive. Before the play opens, she has already succeeded in convincing several men of the truth of her visions and engaging them to go with her on her mission to Orleans; one of her followers is the practical Bertrand de Poulengry. He claims that Joan, through her strong faith, has the power to inspire the soldiers during battle; in response to her, the soldiers will fight with renewed vigor and fervor. With such help from Poulengry, Joan easily manages to dominate and impress Sir Robert de Baudricourt. At the end of the scene, he promises to fill all of her requests.

In the fifteenth century, many people were given to beliefs in the mystical and the supernatural. The steward is one such person; early in the play, he rushes onto the stage in a panic. He is certain that the reason that the hens are not laying eggs is because Baudricourt has refused to see Joan of Arc. It is obvious, therefore, that Joan's reputation is already known. The common people seem to believe that she truly is a chosen one, a messenger of God. By the end of the chapter, de Baudricourt thinks the same thing, for as soon as Joan departs the hens again start laying eggs.

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