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Saint Joan

Saint Joan

  

by George Bernard Shaw

Saint Joan Epilogue Summary

  • The stage directions inform us that it's a dark and stormy night in June 1456.
  • Charles, who is now King Charles VII, is reading in bed. He's 51.
  • Ladvenu, 25 years older than last we saw him, enters the bedroom unannounced.
  • Startled, the King jumps out of bed.
  • Ladvenu tells the King that Joan's good name has been cleared. Apparently he's been obsessed with setting the record straight ever since her execution.
  • He goes on to say that, unlike Joan's original trial, this recent hearing was full of lies and corruption. However, strangely enough, this time the truth was actually heard.
  • Charles says he doesn't care how Joan's name got cleared, as long people can't criticize him for being crowned by a heretical sorceress.
  • Ladvenu says that he should be thinking of Joan now not himself.
  • There's no use in thinking about her, says the King. She was bigger than all of us.
  • He tells Ladvenu that, if Joan were resurrected today, people would just burn her all over again.
  • The priest doesn't want to hear this. He leaves, saying that he's never hanging out in palaces with kings again.
  • There's a flash of lightning.
  • Charles hears Joan's voice.
  • She appears.
  • He asks if she's a ghost.
  • She's says, nah, you're just dreaming.
  • They settle down for a friendly chat.
  • The King asks her if it hurt to be burnt.
  • Joan replies that she doesn't really remember.
  • Guess what, says Charles, I like battles now. They call me Charles the Victorious.
  • That's swell, Joan tells him. I must've really helped you after all.
  • The King informs her that the people that convicted her have been declared to be corrupt.
  • Joan thinks that her accusers were honest, even if they were foolish. Anyway what good is it? She's still burnt.
  • Cauchon pops up and joins the dream.
  • Joan asks him how he's doing.
  • Pretty badly, the Bishop tells her. They've dug up my dead body, excommunicated it, and thrown it in the sewer.
  • He still argues that he did only what was good, right, and proper.
  • Charles tells them both that it's people like them, with their high minded ideas of goodness, who cause all the problems. They should be more like him: just a humble little King of France.
  • Awesome, says Joan. You're the King of France? I guess it all worked out the way I wanted.
  • Dunois appears.
  • He tells Joan that he kept his word and got rid of all the English.
  • She asks him if he's dead, too.
  • Nope, he says. I'm still alive and sleeping in my own bed right now. It's just my spirit that's hanging out with y'all right now.
  • Joan wants to know if he defeated the English her way – no ransoms, just kill or be killed, for the glory of God.
  • Yep, he tells her. Your way worked the best.
  • Dunois informs her that he wrote a lovely little letter to help get her name cleared.
  • He feels kind of bad about not trying to save her before, but there wasn't a lot he could do with her being in the hands of the Church.
  • Sure, blame everything on the Church, whines Cauchon.
  • A Soldier joins them.
  • For some strange reason he's singing a random little song.
  • He tells them that he's a saint from Hell.
  • It turns out that he's the guy that gave Joan two sticks to use as a cross while she was being burnt. It was the one good thing he ever did in his life.
  • For this act of kindness he gets one day a year where he gets to go free from Hell.
  • He says that hell isn't anywhere near as bad as fighting in the French wars. He adds that hell is full of emperors and popes.
  • A Newcomer arrives.
  • They find out that he used to be the Chaplain de Stogumber. Now he's just a simple preacher at a simple church.
  • He still feels guilty about being mean to Joan. He didn't understand what real cruelty was until he saw her burning.
  • Cauchon asks him why knowing the story of Christ's suffering wasn't enough for him to understand.
  • De Stogumber tells him it's different when it's right in front of you.
  • The Bishop wonders if somebody has to die like Jesus in every generation just to remind people not to be cruel.
  • Joan takes heart in what De Stogumber is saying. She comments that at least her death saved all the people toward whom the former chaplain would've been mean.
  • The Executioner appears.
  • He tells them that, though he destroyed Joan's body, her spirit lives on.
  • Warwick pops up. (Jeez, this dream is getting crowded.)
  • He congratulates Joan on having her name cleared and apologizes for his part in it.
  • No hard feelings, he says. It was just politics.
  • Joan tells him that she's not mad about it.
  • A Gentleman enters. He's dressed in the fashion of the 1920's.
  • They all laugh at his more "modern" clothes.
  • He doesn't have time for their nonsense. The Church has sent him from the future to tell them that Joan has been made a saint.
  • Joan is happy.
  • De Stogumber asks if they can put a statue of her in front of Winchester Cathedral back in England.
  • Apparently, they can, because a vision of the statue appears.
  • The Gentleman tells them that there are so many statues of Joan in France now that they're getting in the way of traffic.
  • Everybody gets on their knees and tells Joan how great she is.
  • She asks them if she ought to rise from the dead and rejoin the living.
  • This freaks everybody out.
  • They all make excuses about why her resurrection would be a bad idea and exit.
  • In the end, she's left alone with the Soldier.
  • He tells her that all these highfalutin' people aren't worth her time anyway. In the end, all that matters, is what you think is right.
  • The clock tolls and the Soldier goes back to Hell.
  • Joan is left alone in a bright white light.
  • She asks God when the world will be ready for His saints.

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