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Saint Joan Preface

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In Shaw’s preface there are many aspects of Joan that are given. These ideas include her being unbearable, always sure of herself but never pushy, that she was distinguished within the society, and illiterate but not unknowledgeable or ignorant. Also she is described as being intimidating and therefore no one described her as beautiful according to her looks. Bernard Shaw easily promotes these thoughts through the characters of both Joan and others around her. Joan’s actions throughout the play help show how she can be all of the above descriptions plus more. In addition to Shaw’s opinion of her looks and mental well-being, he includes comparisons of her with various other people such as Socrates and Napoleon. Within Bernard Shaw’s preface in the play, Saint Joan, there are many assumptions but also valid descriptions of how Joan is irritating, self-absorbed, cocky, and physically unattractive which he further proves in events and characters of the play.

Shaw describes Joan mostly as being unattractive but in some ways having powerful looks which helped her at the time. In his preface he talks about her poor qualities, for example, “All the men who alluded to the matter declared most emphatically that she was unattractive sexually to a degree that seemed to them miraculous…”(Shaw 11). Here Shaw explains how the men in the town could not believe how unattractive she was physically but also how her emotions and feelings towards war also affected her looks which brings Shaw’s next saying of “The evident truth is that like most women of her hardy managing type she seemed neutral in the conflict of sex because men were too much afraid of her to fall in love with her” (Shaw 11). Again Shaw describes her poor looks but includes the aspect of intimidation. The men were so intimidated by her that no one could describe her as beautiful. Further on he adds that she had a unique and powerful face which was striking to the average person and that her eyes were far apart. These qualities and opinions of Joan’s looks can also be seen within the play. In a discussion between Joan and Charles, Joan asks about the mentioning of Agnes. In response Charles says how she is a woman he fell in love with. Then Joan asks, “Is she dead, like me?” and Charles responds, “Yes. But she was not like you. She was very beautiful” (Shaw 148). Here Charles is straight forward with Joan by saying she is not beautiful but it seems as if he does not think this is that big of an insult. He ends up being right which can be seen in the next lines spoken by Joan. These lines include her not having pity for herself and that she believes she does not have any looks that are of a woman at all since she says, “I might almost as well have been a man.” (Shaw 148). It is apparent how Shaw shows the readers his interpretation of Joan’s looks through his preface and within the play.

Another aspect of Joan that Shaw reveals both in his preface and play that is easily visible is Joan’s sense of being. Joan has the attitude of being sure about herself but never pushy. This tone helps Joan get what she wants. People of the town were either thought of as with or without Joan. This means that either they accepted and followed Joan’s beliefs or they had their own beliefs. Also Joan treated everyone with the same amount of respect, no matter their position in the social ranks. In the preface Shaw believes that Joan “was a woman of policy and not of blind impulse” (Shaw 21). This quote describes Joan’s sense of knowledge as mentioned previously. Joan was illiterate but not unknowledgeable or ignorant therefore she made choices before she acted. This quality is one of her best since she knew what she wanted and knew how to act upon it which resulted in many of her accomplishments. Her stern and intimidating voice can be seen in scene one where she is talking to the Captain, “Captain; you are to give me a horse and armor and some soldiers, and send me to the Dauphin” (Shaw 52). This quote exclaimed by Joan shows her ability to get what she wants with her tone of voice which is quite intriguing. Even when Joan becomes a little impatient with orders, she is still friendly. This is how Shaw emphasizes Joan’s knowledge of her surroundings and that she knows how to act because that’s the only way she will get what she wants. Also Joan has a sense of making the other feel sorry for her which is another way to get what she wants. An example of this is “I am only a poor country girl; and you are filled with the blessedness and glory of God Himself; but you will touch me you’re your hands,

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