Saint Joan is considered to be one of George Bernard Shaw’s greatest plant. In the drama. Shaw avoids many jobs identified by critics as prevalent in some of his other authorship. Some have criticized Shaw. claiming that he tends to portray unrealistic archetypical characters. instead than all-around credible persons. His dramas have besides been described as missing action and being excessively didactic. In Saint Joan. Shaw reduced the strength of these antecedently criticized typically Shavian elements and therefore. run into with much critical success. However. in my position. the play’s epilogue is excess and unneeded. It basically repeats and reinforces the events of the drama without heightening the play. and serves to add historical facts which are either familiar to the audience or which could hold been inserted skilfully into the organic structure of the drama with greater dramatic consequence. It seems about as if Shaw was afraid that his audience would non understand the drama and he felt compelled to do his thoughts clearer in the epilogue.
The action of the epilogue takes topographic point 25 old ages after Joan has been burned. King Charles has a dream in which many of the characters of the drama appear. These characters. including Joan. either explain their behaviour that we’ve seen throughout the drama or associate some historical fact that Shaw must hold seen as necessary for the audience to be cognizant of. The first character that appears at Charles’ bed is Brother Martin Ladvenu. who in Scene VI participated in the test of Joan. During the scrutiny. Ladvenu makes every attempt to salvage Joan from being declared a heretic and attempts to give her the chance to be ‘saved. ’ He praises Joan when she answers a inquiry good. In add-on. he says to her. ‘Joan: we are all seeking to salvage you. His Lordship is seeking to salvage you. The Inquisitor could non be more merely to you if you were his ain girl. ’ He shows that he is earnest in his desire for the truth to come out. and for Joan to be saved. After Joan has been burned. he is one of the first to acknowledge that a error has been made. Describing her combustion. he says ‘…she looked up to heaven. And I do non believe that the celestial spheres were empty. I steadfastly believe that her Savior appeared to her…This is non the terminal for her. but the beginning. ’
In the epilogue. Ladvenu’s chief map is to relay the fact that Joan has been absolved and rehabilitated and that he was a primary mover toward such absolution. He says. ‘Twenty-five old ages have passed since [ Joan’s firing ] : about ten 1000 yearss. ’ This is pure expounding necessary merely to point the audience. He continues. ‘And on every one of those yearss I have prayed God to warrant His girl on Earth as she is justified in Eden. ’ This merely illustrates that Ladvenu believes that Joan was unjustly burned. reiterating the same information that was conveyed with greater dramatic effectivity in Scene VI. He goes on to give more historical information ; the Judgess of Joan were declared corrupt and malicious. Having conveyed these facts. Ladvenu leaves and his full visual aspect in the epilogue seems unneeded and does non add dramatically to the drama.
After Ladvenu’s going. Joan herself appears to Charles. informing him ( and the audience ) that she is merely in his dream. and non an existent shade. Like Ladvenu. Charles announces historical informations about himself ; he has turned into a great combatant and he is called Charles the Victorious. In their conversation. Joan spells out information about herself that has been clearly illustrated throughout the drama. without adding anything significant. She says. ‘I was no beauty ; I was a regular soldier. I might about every bit good have been a adult male. Commiseration I wasn’t…But my caput was in the skies ; and the glorification of God was upon me…’ She continues on to province the obvious. ‘I shall outlive the cross. I shall be remembered when work forces have forgotten where Rouen stood. ’ Anyone reading or seeing the drama knows that this is true.
Shaw’s form of giving historical information and explaining and sum uping characters’ behaviours continues throughout the epilogue. The following character to get in the scene is Peter Cauchon. the Bishop of Beauvais who like Ladvenu. participated in make up one’s minding Joan’s destiny. He starts off by supplying the facts of his life after Joan’s decease. ‘Dead. Dishonored. They pursued me beyond the grave. They excommunicated my dead organic structure: they dug it up and flung it into the common cloaca. ’ Shaw’s purpose may hold been to demo that society is excessively speedy to justice and. as a consequence. goes to extremes beyond what is sensible and necessary.
Cauchon says. ‘The solid Earth sways like the unreliable sea beneath the pess of work forces and liquors likewise when the inexperienced person are slain in the name of jurisprudence. and their wrongs are undone by defaming the pure of bosom. ’ This statement can be interpreted as a subject of the drama since Joan’s narrative illustrates precisely the point that Cauchon is doing. By explicitly saying such subject. Shaw undercuts the power of the predating action and weakens the dramatic consequence of the drama. Cauchon continues on to sum up his action which we’ve already seen throughout the drama. ‘…I was merely: I was merciful: I was faithful to my visible radiation: I could make no other than I did. ’ As was with Ladvenu. the audience saw Cauchon acting precisely the manner he describes. Therefore. his words add nil to the drama and are excess.
Following to look is Dunois. the Bastard of Orleans. Like all the others in the epilogue. he instantly explains his actions that we’ve already seen. He says. ‘Perhaps I should ne’er hold let the priests burn you ; but I was busy combat ; and it was The Church’s concern. non mine. ’ He had already made it clear that contending the war was his precedence in Scene V. Mentioning to Joan. he says. ‘The twenty-four hours after she has been dragged from her Equus caballus by a goddam or a Burgundian. and he is non struck dead: the twenty-four hours after she is locked in a keep. and the bars and bolts do non wing open at the touch of St. Peter’s angel: the twenty-four hours when the enemy finds out that she is every bit vulnerable as I am and non a spot more unbeatable. she will non be worth the life of a individual soldier to us ; and I will non put on the line that life. much as I cherish her as a companion-in-arms. ’
Appropriately. following Dunois into King Charles’ dream is a soldier. We learn from Joan that the soldier had made an former cross out of two sticks and handed it to Joan when she was about to be burned. This cross made out of sticks is alluded to at the terminal of Scene VI. It is unneeded to present the soldier in the epilogue. The lone new construct brought Forth by his visual aspect is his description of snake pit. He says snake pit is ‘Like as if you were ever drunk without the problem or disbursal of imbibing. Tip top company excessively: emperors and Catholic Popes and male monarchs and all kinds. ’ This is evocative of Shaw’s Man And Superman. where Shaw explored similar subjects definitively in the ‘Don Juan In Hell’ sequence. Not many would reason that these thoughts need revisiting and are particularly unneeded in Saint Joan.
The staying characters that appear in the epilogue likewise rehash their earlier actions. John De Stogumber. the Chaplain. recounts his ain inhuman treatment and relates that he is now old. but is a changed adult male due to his experience with Joan. This is foreshadowed by the Chaplain’s utmost self-repulsion after Joan has been burnt. This abomination of his ain action need non be repeated. as it is in the epilogue. In add-on. the Earl of Warwick the makes his manner in. asseverating. ‘The combustion was strictly political. ’ This is a point that is besides touched on clearly throughout the earlier scenes. Finally. a modern gentleman arrives and announces that Joan has been canonized. This fact need non be relayed to the audience. particularly the audience of Shaw’s twenty-four hours. given the fact that Joan achieved sainthood merely four old ages prior to the play’s first public presentations.
Following the modern gentleman’s proclamation. all the characters pay court to Joan. However. when she threatens to return to earth. they are all terrified by this thought. Shaw’s point here may be that the universe is ne’er ready to accept the truly Godhead. By emphasizing this point so overtly. Shaw is crushing the audience over the caput. one time once more underselling the nuance of the remainder of the drama.
Shaw’s repeat in the epilogue of the content and subjects contained in Saint Joan. combined with the interpolation of strictly historical facts missing in dramatic relevancy. is a defect in what is otherwise a superb work of art. Shaw’s need to explicate his work. as evidenced by his drawn-out forewords to many dramas. most likely compelled him to include the epilogue. However. the expressed accounts contained in the epilogue lessen the power of the action that precede it. As a consequence. an audience is likely to come off from the public presentation easy able to reason what Shaw’s purposes were. instead than coming to the thoughts that Shaw wanted to show by reflecting on the events of the drama.