St. Joan By George Bernard Shaw Summary and Analysis Scene III

Summary

This scene is set on the south bank of the Loire River, near Orleans, about seven weeks later. Dunois, better known as The Bastard, is seen pacing up and down the river bank, calling on the west wind to blow in his direction, for he constantly observes his pennon (the flag on his lance) blowing the wrong way. A page enters, and Dunois immediately inquires as to the whereabouts of The Maid, who suddenly arrives in full armor. Immediately, the west wind stops blowing, but Dunois is too occupied to notice. Upon identifying Dunois as "The Bastard of Orleans," Joan wonders why they are on this side of the river when the English and Orleans are on the other side. She wants to cross the bridge immediately and attack the English forces. Dunois explains that older and wiser military experts say such a tactic simply cannot be done, but Joan dismisses the experts as "fatheads"; she is determined to take immediate, decisive action. When Dunois mentions that her soldiers will not follow her into the mouth of almost certain death, she asserts: "I will not look back to see whether anyone is following me." She then informs Dunois that she will charge the fort and will be the first up the ladder, and she dares him to follow her. Dunois responds that they must sail up river and attack the English from the rear, but, first, they "must wait until God changes the wind." He then asks Joan to go to church and pray for an east wind. They leave to find a church, but, suddenly, the page notices that the wind has changed, and he calls The Maid and The Bastard back. Dunois thinks that God has indeed spoken, and thus he says that if Joan will lead the armies, he will pledge his allegiance to her.

Analysis

In this short scene, Dunois is presented as the darling, romantic hero whose opening speech on the west wind characterizes him as a Soldier Poet. He will make a fitting complement to The Maid, Joan. As a romantic, Dunois thinks that Joan is "in love with war"; earlier, the Archbishop had said that Joan was in love with religion. In reality, Joan is in love with neither; she is simply following her dedication (or her voices). The greatness of Joan is shown in this scene in the simple but moving manner by which she is able to convert such seasoned soldiers as Dunois, who is, of course, the realistic soldier who evaluates the tactical difficulties of the situation before moving into action. Joan, in contrast, moves immediately — by inspiration.

This scene also continues with the miraculous nature of Joan's presence. Here, the miracle involves the changing of the wind. Since Dunois has waited for so long for the wind to change and then, suddenly, realizes that it has reversed itself at the very moment that Joan is about to attack, this is proof enough for Dunois that Joan possesses miraculous powers. Therefore, Joan becomes a force like the west wind; in other words, Joan moves forward toward her goal, unconscious of the larger implications. She is simply "blown" toward victory.

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