By Charles Matthews

Thursday, May 6, 2010

6. "Saint Joan," by George Bernard Shaw, pp. 63-85

Scenes 2 and 3
The Archbishop and the Lord Chamberlain, La Trémouille, arrange a test for Joan: will she recognize the Dauphin as the man she has come to persuade? So they arrange to put Bluebeard, Gilles de Rais, on the throne and hide the meek Dauphin in the crowd But the Archbishop knows the outcome in advance: everybody knows "that the Dauphin is the meanest-looking and worst-dressed figure in the Court, and that the man with the blue beard is Gilles de Rais."
LA TRÉMOUILLE [puzzled and a little scandalized] But that would not be a miracle at all.
THE ARCHBISHOP [calmly] Why not? ... A miracle, my friend, is an event which creates faith. That is the purpose and nature of miracles. They may seem very wonderful to people who witness them, and very simple to those who perform them. That does not matter: if they confirm or create faith they are true miracles. 
LA TRÉMOUILLE. Even when they are frauds, do you mean? 
THE ARCHBISHOP. Frauds deceive. An event which creates faith does not deceive: therefore it is not a fraud, but a miracle.... [T]he Church has to rule men for the good of their souls as you have to rule them for the good of their bodies. To do that, the Church must do as you do: nourish their faith by poetry. 
Joan tries to persuade the Dauphin to send her to lift the siege of Orléans.
CHARLES. I can tell you that one good treaty is worth ten good fights. These fighting fellows lose all on the treaties that they gain on the fights. If we can only have a treaty, the English are sure to have the worst of it, because they are better at fighting than at thinking.
JOAN. If the English win, it is they that will make the treaty; and then God help poor France! Thou must fight, Charlie, whether thou will or no....
CHARLES. ... Why cant you mind your own business, and let me mind mine?
JOAN [again contemptuous] Minding your own business is like minding your own body: it's the shortest way to make yourself sick. What is my business? Helping mother at home. What is thine? Petting lapdogs and sucking sugar-sticks. I call that muck. I tell thee it is God's business we are here to do: not our own. 
Joan meets Dunois before the battle.
DUNOIS [recognizing her mettle, and clapping her heartily on the shoulder] ... You are in love with war. 
JOAN [startled] Oh! And the Archbishop said I was in love with religion. 
DUNOIS. I, God forgive me, am a little in love with war myself, the ugly devil! I am like a man with two wives. Do you want to be  like a woman with two husbands? 
JOAN [matter-of-fact] I will never take a husband. A man in Toul took an action against me for breach of promise; but I never promised him. I am a soldier: I do not want to be thought of as a woman. I will not dress as a woman. I do not care for the things women care for. They dream of lovers, and of money. I dream of leading a charge, and of placing the big guns. You soldiers do not know how to use the big guns: you think you can win battles with a great noise and smoke. ... I am a servant of God. My sword is sacred: I found it behind the altar in the church of St Catherine, where God hid it for me; and I may not strike a blow with it.

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