by George Bernard Shaw
Saint Joan Theme of Versions of Reality
Joan of Arc is well known for claiming to hear voices sent to her by God. The Church chose a different view, saying they were demonic in origin. Some of her friends told her that the voices were just her own commonsense talking to her. Joan's refusal to submit to anyone's version of reality but her own, was one of the main factors that led to her execution. Saint Joan is in a sense a battle for the definition of reality.
Questions About Versions of Reality
- Were Joan's voices from God, or were they just her own common sense?
- Why does Bishop Cauchon feel so threatened by Joan's voices? How do her beliefs challenge Church doctrine?
- Does Joan's faith in her voices actually waiver when she signs the recantation, or is she only pretending in order to save her life?
- The epilogue is an entirely new version of reality in the play. What are the benefits and disadvantages of Shaw's choice?
Chew on This
By placing faith in her own voices over Church doctrine, Joan becomes an early and unknowing proponent of Protestantism.
Joan is executed in an ideological battle to define spiritual reality.