Leonard Peikoff analyzes Shaw’s tragicomic depiction of the medieval martyr Joan of Arc, addressing such issues as: Shaw’s transformation of the English theater; the significance of the play’s nature as a historical play or “period piece”; Shaw’s ingenious portrayal of Joan as symbolic of the emerging historical forces of Protestantism and nationalism; the necessity and significance of the play’s epilogue, which was attacked by critics; the brilliant characterization of Joan, including the many features that make her so sympathetic to an Objectivist audience; and Shaw’s insistence that there are no villains in this play — not even the Inquisition.
Spoiler alert: The lesson assumes students have read the play.
Recommended edition: George Bernard Shaw, Saint Joan. Penguin Classics. Penguin, 2001.