Villains in Saint Joan

January 2, 2017 General Studies

Joan of Arc has always been depicted as the heroine and those who did not see eye to eye with her as the villains. In Bernard Shaw’s play Saint Joan however, there are no villains, but those opposing Joan are shown as simply doing their jobs. The church wants Joan because she was considered to be a heretic, while the English want her because she poses as a threat to their entire feudal system. This is shown throughout the fourth act in the dialogues between Warwick and Cauchon.

Warwick is desperate to get his hands on Joan because of her strong nationalism and how she rebels by behaving not like the other females, but rather fights with men and wears men’s clothes. It is a problem for him that she does not like to follow rules because most of the common people adore her and could easily be influenced by her to begin rebelling or just cause chaos in general. Warwick also believes that her nationalism is threatening him and the other nobles by superseding “the aristocracy, and make the king sole and absolute autocrat. Instead of the king being merely the first among his peers, he becomes their master” (97). But it is an even bigger problem if all the people residing in France started to claim that they are French because they live in the nation of France and speak French, because of the fact that the English control much of the French population. If the French did begin to develop nationalism, they could start revolting and eventually drive the English out. It probably would not have mattered much if nobody knew her, but because of the fact that everybody has heard of her and that she is adored by many, Joan could easily persuade them to act like her and do as she say. In Warwick’s mind this means that chaos will ensue as the commoners rebel against him and the rest of the nobles, which could even cause the collapse of “the whole social structure of Christendom” (97). As with Warwick, Cauchon (representative of the Church) also has valid reasons for wanting Joan’s capture, albeit they are somewhat different than those of Warwick.

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