International Journal of

Arts , Humanities & Social Science

ISSN 2693-2547 (Print) , ISSN 2693-2555 (Online)
DOI: 10.56734/ijahss
Artistic Creation of Joan of Arc: Taking Roles of The Epilogue in George Bernard Shaw’s Saint Joan as An Example


In the recent century, researchers have become increasingly focused on the famous English writer George Bernard Shaw’s historical play Saint Joan. It is generally accepted that Saint Joan is one of Shaw’s best works and seems to illustrate Mr. Shaw’s mind more clearly than anything he has written before. Most of these researchers have discussed general features of the French military figure Joan of Arc. While this point of view has been very productive, particularly in portraying personalities of the historical prototype and enriching readers’ cognition about Shaw’s comments on Joan and background knowledge in understanding that piece of history, this initial perception fails to take into account Shaw’s fundamental differences from other cultural depictions: that Shaw has his special views of the miserable condition of Joan, which is mainly shown in the last Epilogue of this book.

To date, it has been universally acknowledged that among all the “Joans” in previous works, Shaw’s is simultaneously “the most intriguing”, “the most ambivalent”, “the most dramatically round” and “the most revealingly relevant to leadership”. As Herbert indicates in his George Bernard Shaw: Saint Joan (1988), Saint Joan is “a tremendous success” and “the humor, fantasy, and anachronisms” that the critics have found in Saint Joan become “accepted characteristics of the new genre of historical drama”. Besides, some critics such as Michael Holroyd has characterized the play as Shaw’s “only tragedy” and they tend to study Shaw’s thought by analyzing the long Preface included in the text of the published play.

Generally speaking, Shaw’s play Saint Joan has much to say about characteristics of Joan of Arc and it has become public property. However, there has been scant systematic investigation of Saint Joan’s special arrangement. This study will address the overall problem of the role of the epilogue.