Character Change In Saint Joan
Influence is the process of instilling faith into someone to propel and amend their personality. Bernard Shaw’s famous play, Saint Joan, recalls about a teenage peasant girl from Lorraine, whom against all likelihood achieves the confidence of Charles (Dauphin), in her military tactics and her inspiration. She led the French to many victories, the most famous one of them being against the English. Shaw’s character Joan is a determined and charismatic young woman as she influenced Charles (Dauphin). She managed to change him from being an immature and a feeble person to be the heroic King of France, yet being unthankful he turns away from Joan, when she wanted him to take his side.
Joan claims that she is on a special delegation from God to crown Charles and lead the French to an uncertain victory against the English. However, Charles at first declines the idea of Joan. As he says that “I only want to be left alone to enjoy myself in my own way. I never asked to be a king: it was pushed on me” (Shaw pg 84). Charles lacks all the characteristics that a king should be possessed with in order to lead a nation. Joan says that she will “put the courage in thee” but Dauphin tells her to mind her own business because the only thing that he craves for is to sleep and avoid living in a constant terror to be killed. However, Joan manages to instill patriotism and faith into Charles as she promises him that they can be victorious against the English. Inspired by Joan’s faith and enthusiasm, the Dauphin invites all the noblemen into the court and says “I have given the command of army to The Maid. The Maid is to do as she likes with it” (Shaw pg 87). Charles used to tremble because his men used to insult and overlook him, but, due to the influence of Joan, Charles is assured that by handing the power to Joan, they might have a chance to defeat the English and his army would be in better hands than before.So he dismisses the commander of the army. The influential personality of Joan has an immediate impact on Charles and it transforms him into a much more commanding leader rather than being a leader that is neglected by his nobles.
After the coronation, Joan suggests that the army must take Paris before she returns home. This however, distresses and horrifies King Charles, as he wants an immediate treaty rather than war. Joan argues that her voices can never lead her to wrong path but Charles says “Oh your voices, your voices. Why don’t the voices come to me? I am king not you” (Shaw, 113). Charles does not take her opinion into account even though she has been victorious in many cases leading in her disownment by the Crown as well as the Church and Army shortly thereafter.
Twenty-five years since her brutal burning, Joan appears in King Charles’ victorious dream after having her retried only because, he needs to rid of the rumor that he was crowned by a witch and a heretic.Charles informs her that he has led his army to victory in many battles by following her strategies. “Do you know, I actually lead my army out and win battles?”(Shaw Pg 153). Charles character has changed dramatically from being an immature and feeble king to a leader that is capable to lead his army. He understands the responsibilities of a king and is not self centered anymore. He leads his army from the front like a leader and is respected by everyone unlike before.
Joan has a huge influence on Charles, as she makes him realize that a huge post comes with many responsibilities and without the influence of Joan, Charles would have never been regarded as the victorious king of France. Joan’s approach towards right path challenged many demoralized personalities to change for a good cause. Joan was distinguished from others due to her personality, simplicity and piety, and she still remains an example for others to follow.
Verba volant, scripta manent.
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