Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Saint Joan: First Level Inquiry (Grammar Stage)

What is the initial question or tension?

From the beginning everyone has been wondering whether Joan told the truth when she said that God sent her. In these cases, one always wonders whether someone is a saint or a liar. So, the initial question here is: Is Joan really sent by God?

Where is the point of greatest tension?

It’s when Joan snatches the ‘recantation of the heresy’ and tears it to pieces and gives this speech:

It is not the bread and water I fear; I can live on bread; when have I asked for more? It is no hardship to drink water if the water be clean. Bread has no sorrow for me, and water no affliction. But to shut me from the light of the sky and the sight of the fields and flowers; to chain my feet so that I can never again ride with the soldiers nor climb the hills; to make me breathe foul damp darkness, and keep from me everything that brings me back to the love of God when your wickedness and foolishness tempt me to hate Him; all this is worse than the furnace in the Bible that was heated seven times. I could do without my warhorse; I could drag about in a skirt; I could let the banners and the trumpets and the knights and soldiers pass me and leave me behind as they leave the other women, if only I could still hear the wind in the trees, the larks in the sunshine, the young lambs crying through the healthy frost, and the blessed church bells that send my angel voices floating to me on the wind. But without these things I cannot live; and by your wanting to take them away from me, or from any human creature, I know that your counsel is of the devil, and that mine is of God.”

It only points out what the most important thing for human kind should be. The speech is so eloquent that it touched me deeply when reading it.

Where does the play’s action reach its climax?

At first I picked Joan’s burning as the climax (the Chaplain and Ladvenu repented here), but after thinking it thoroughly, I decided that the real climax is Joan’s canonization announcement as Saint. Because off this canonization process, do the others really admit and honor her by kneeling to her giving praises. What else could be more climax than this? When everyone who had been under-appreciating her and accusing her now adore her?

Where is the resolution?

In King Charles’ dream, where he meets Joan and all others; they deserts Joan one by one to the idea of her resurrection, right after their praises to her. To which Joan sighs to God: “O God that madest this beautiful earth, when will it be ready to receive Thy saints? How long, O Lord, how long?” I believe Joan’s desperation is the resolution.

What holds the play’s action together?

I think what makes it difficult for people to see the truth behind Joan’s claim that she is sent by God, is the lack of faith. That is what holds the play’s action together. People choose to believe what they can understand, and take anything beyond imagination as heresy or witchcraft. Even after they are proved to be wrong, it’s still difficult for them to accept their saints.


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