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MonkeyNotes-Saint Joan by George Bernard Shaw
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Scene II

This scene is set in the antechamber of the throne room of the castle at Chinois, in Lorraine, where Charles, the Dauphin or Ruler of France, is holding court. The courtiers, including the Archbishop of Rheims, are discussing the Dauphin who, in spite of having borrowed huge amounts of money from them, is on the verge of poverty; he also lacks power and respect. At this moment Gilles de Rais enters, saying that Joan has had a great influence on the common soldiers. The rest of the courtiers are skeptical about Joan, even though Charles supports her and insists upon seeing her. He is bullied by the Archbishop into testing Joan's powers.

Gilles de Rais, known as Bluebeard, comes up with the idea to test Joan. The test is that before Joan enters, Charles would hide himself and Bluebeard would take his place. Joan would have to identify whether the man before her is really Charles by using her powers. As they leave to prepare for this test, the Chamberlain and the Archbishop discuss their views on miracles.

Upon entering, Joan's short hair, soldier-like clothes, and unfeminine looks cause a lot of laughter among the ladies. Joan, however, pays little attention to the snide comments and immediately denounces de Rais as the Dauphin. She finds Charles among the courtiers and kneels in front of him, stating that she has been sent to free France and crown him as the king. When Joan requests a private audience with the Dauphin, the Archbishop orders Charles and Joan to be left alone.

Charles, a shy and somewhat despairing young man, tells Joan that he wants to lead a peaceful and quiet life. However, Joan gives him encouragement. Despite heavy opposition from his courtiers, Charles grants Joan permission to command the army and raise the siege at Orleans. When she addresses the courtiers and calls for their help, all of them, except for the former commander of Charles' army are impressed with Joan's courage and enthusiasm.

Notes

As Joan enters, the women laugh at her clothes, which will play a very important part in her ultimate condemnation at the trial. The courtiers are all skeptical of her abilities. Joan's miraculous powers are highlighted, however, as she does not fall for the trick presented to her and immediately identifies Charles, the Dauphin, even though she has never before seen him. The doubting Archbishop claims that the Blue Beard of De Rais has invalidated the test. Hints of the Archbishop's underlying hatred for Joan are suggested here. Though he is ashamed by the reverence and respect that Joan shows to him, the Archbishop is too much a political opportunist to evaluate Joan fairly. He stands for rigid religious beliefs that question all miracles or special powers that might undermine or inconvenience the Church in some way.


The Dauphin reveals in this scene that he is normally a puppet in the hands of the powerful Archbishop. However, Charles is so impressed by Joan that he stands up to the Archbishop and gives her permission to command his army and raise the siege of Orleans in spite of the Archbishop's opposition.

Joan again is steadfast in her faith without being bothered about mockery, criticism, or praise. She boldly goes ahead as she believes that it is God's will for her to save her country. Her fervor impresses Charles, who gives her permission to carry out her mission. The fact that she can influence the Dauphin says a lot about her 'powers' of persuasion and leadership.

Joan also proves that she is a wise girl. Recognizing the influence that the Archbishop holds, she treats him with deference and respect. She knows it would be unwise to anger such a powerful courtier, and she has no trouble acting with humility before him.

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