The Epilogue to "Saint Joan" by George Bernard Shaw: St. Joan's Triumph Over the Forces of Death and Glory of Canonization

British playwright George Bernard Shaw was 
awarded the 1925 Nobel Prize for the play, Saint Joan.

The Epilogue to Saint Joan is a real attempt to show Joan's tragedy in the ultimate light of divine comedy"-Nicholas Greene

Despite of the criticism as anticlimactic, being comic in tone adversely in the tragic piece, the Epilogue to Saint Joan mends a through understanding. St. Joan in the play is independent, courageous and Zealous. Read More George Bernard Shaw Yet she had to die because as a protestant she threatened the authority of the church, and as a nationalistic she imperiled the power of feudal lords. This theme of the rejection of the moral genius by the conservative elements of society is recapitulated and generalized in epilogue through comic overtone.




Truly, the Epilogue dramatizes St. Joan's triumph over the forces of death and her glory of canonization. Twenty - five years after her death, on the occasion of her rehabilitation by the church in 1456, Joan meets again the men who were involved in her career. When a messenger from the pope appears to announce the canonization of Joan, all, from Cauchon to King Charles, fall to their knees in adoration of the new saint. Read More George Bernard Shaw Yet when Joan acknowledges their praise by asking if she should return from the dead, a living woman, each -except for a common soldier - again rejects her, humbly this time and disappears. Shaw's message is clear: those who rule society are never ready to accept the moral genius who would change society, even though that genius be a saint.

Shaw calls the epilogue a comedy of the attempts of posterity to make amends'. The comedy underlying in the pseudo nationalism, ecclesiastical malpractices and self interested sections, Shaw keeps them all in strict artistic control in previous scenes. But in the epilogue Shaw bursts forth in its hilariousness. The Dauphin is still a fool as ever. He is love persist here for Agnes Sorrel, a beautiful maid. But sorry to say, He has never dreamed of Joan before. He still does not recognize the saint. He claims that he is now manly and leads war from the front. Joan here exclaims, “No! Did I make a man of thereafter all, Charlie?” Read More George Bernard Shaw The puppet king further reaffirm his foolishness as he tells Cauchon, "You people with your heads in the sky spend all your heads in the sky spend all your time trying to turn the world upside down; but I take the world as it is, and say that top side - up ------what king of France has done better, or been a better fellow in his little way?

The newcomer, twentieth century cleric then solemnly declares Joan's sainthood; little suspecting the woman standing near him is Joan herself. The comedy reaches the highest pitch when Joan asks, "Shall i rise from the dead, and come back to you a living woman? --------Must I burn again? Are none of you ready to receive me? All of them whiles away as bubbles. As darkness envelops in the heavenly night Joan implores, ' O God that madest this beautiful earth, When will it be ready to receive they saint? How long, O lord no long?

The Epilogue to the play is no doubt the reenactment of sad lot of Joan in the hostile earth. The part of comedy is her advent in heaven again tragically ends with the desertion by all the peers and comrades. The isolation of Joan is pathetic and in the drama it as a recurrent motif. Joan bemoans mankind's failure to recognize its saints. Christ - like Joan is shill a suffering lot. Yet, in the epilogue underneath she is in truth victorious, not only because she helped in the liberation of France, but also because the ideas which centered in her are still marching on through the centuries. Read More George Bernard Shaw Thus Charles admits that the judgment on her is broken, annihilated, annulled: null, non existent, without value or effect. Further, Dunois grieves " Half an hour to burn you, dear saint: and four centuries to find out the truth about you!” Though her ability to probe deep into the problems and to formulate independent ethical value causes her to be alienated from conventional society, She is still the  same and her sword shall conquer yet.

In Conclusion, we must admit that Shaw in his epilogue draws upon his imagination and his inventive powers par excellence. The scene is in some respect best in the play as Shaw gets free from the confining framework of faith and becomes a genuine creator. Shaw is here better planned to end the drama with the artistry of delineating Joan's infinite cry of isolation. The play is well rounded off with the memorable closing lines spoken by the ghost of Joan. Shaw is also innovative in structuring epilogue as it is no ordinary solo speech uttered by any character; rather, it involves more characters and farce, satire, irony and pathos intermingle in every twists and turns.

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