Study Guide

Saint Joan Warfare

By George Bernard Shaw


JOAN: "Our soldiers are always beaten because they are fighting only to save their skins; […] it is not kill or be killed with them, but pay or be paid." (1.165)

Joan completely revolutionized the idea of warfare with this sort of thinking. She inspired soldiers to sacrifice their lives for something they actually believed in.

JOAN: "Thou must fight, Charlie, whether thou will or no." (2.163)

To Joan, war and violence is the only option to put France aright.

DUNOIS: "If you [JOAN] delivered me from fear I should be a good knight for a story book, but a very bad commander of the army." (3.38)

It's interesting that Dunois values fear in war. Is Joan too young to understand the necessity of caution?

DUNOIS: "You have the makings of a soldier in you. You are in love with war." (3.46)

Is Joan's passion for fighting at odds with her love of God?

WARWICK: "When one has seen whole countrysides burnt over and over again as mere items in military routine, one has to grow a very thick skin." (4.85)

You get statements like this in almost anything ever written about war. It's terrible, but you get used to it. Is that why we as humans are still fighting each other to this day?

JOAN: "How I wish it were the bridge at Orleans again! We lived at that bridge. […] it is so dull […] when there is no danger: oh, so dull! dull! dull!"

Is Joan becoming addicted to the adrenaline rush of warfare?

JOAN: "I tell you, Bastard, your art of war is no use, because your knights are no good for real fighting. War is only a game to them." (5.77)

The French took this advice to heart. Historically speaking, Joan completely changed the way they fought.

BLUEBEARD: "Not content with being Pope Joan, you must be Caesar and Alexander as well." (5.78)

Is the comparison accurate? If Joan hadn't been caught would she just have kept on fighting?

THE SOLDIER: "Fifteen years' service in the French wars. Hell was a treat after that." (E.95)

How did Joan reconcile her warrior side with her Christianity? If the war Joan participated in created such a hell on Earth, are her actions at odds with her religion?

CHARLES: "Do you know, I actually lead my army out and win battles? Down into the moat up to my waist in mud and blood. […] Like you." (E.40)

Joan's influence has changed Charles into a completely different person than he was at the beginning of the play.