What Is The Significance Of The Play St. Joan By Bernard Shaw?

1134 words - 5 pages

Bernard Shaw was a dramatic critic. He is said to be one pf the world's most famous playwrights. Even though there were many who opposed his progressive views, he was adamant in his desire to reform society. Shaw was a feminist and had great respect and consideration for women. St. Joan is the first play where a woman has been shown as a full fledged, strong willed character.Shaw's art of characterization is depicted through clear descriptions, the manner in which the characters speak and the way they speak to each other. Shaw's plays are referred to as 'a drama of ideas' as they do not involve action.The play, St. Joan was written by Shaw in 1923, two years after Joan's canonization, but is set in the medieval age, namely, 1429. There are several medieval elements in the play. This is seen when the steward says ' there is a spell on us: we are bewitched' as an explanation for why there are no eggs.The fist scene of the play is set during the hundred years war between England and France. A young country girl has come to see the squire of the castle of Vaucouleurs, Robert de Baudricourt. She insists that he should send her to the Dauphin as it is her mission to raise the siege of Orleans and to crown the Dauphin.In this scene, Shaw gives a very clear and pictorial description of Baudricourt. He is portrayed as someone who is apparently strong willed and emphatic. By his domineering nature he attempts to hide his lack of will power. He is a bully and is extremely condescending towards his steward. He is inconsiderate and is continuously threatening to dismiss the steward. He calls him 'incompetent' and 'the worst steward in France'.The period in which the play is set shows the feudal system at its worst and is predominant in the first scene of the play. Feudalism denotes a social system of rights and duties based on land tenure, and on specified personal relationships. Vassals or feudal lords in 'fief' held land from their overlord or king, to whom they paid allegiance, including duty to provide military support. Baudricourt emphasizes the feudal system during his first encounter with Joan as she tells him of her requirements consisting of a horse, armor and some soldiers, saying that these are the orders from her Lord. Baudricourt retorts by saying 'I am neither duke nor peers at his orders: I am squire of Baudricourt; and I take no orders except from the king'. This statement of his is ironic as earlier in the play he shows irreverence to the king by agreeing to what his steward says that he is a' greater man than the king'. We are also made aware of the degree of feudalism when Bertrand de Poulengey, in his conversation with Baudricourt says that the English 'have this castle: you know very well that we had to surrender it to the Duke of Bedford, and that you (Baudricourt) are only holding it on parole'. Baudricourt also says that the 'soldiers are subject to their feudal lord' and it is no consequence to them whether the country is governed by...

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