Shaw's play is a fictionalized version of the historical life of Joan of Arc. Young Joan, a French farmgirl, hears the voices of saints telling her to raise an army to fight the English. When the war starts to go the way of the French, the English convince the Church to have her tried for heresy. She doesn't believe that she can be a heretic, because she loves God and the church. Nonetheless, she is found guilty at trial. The trial appears to be fairly executed, in accordance with the laws of the time. When Joan refuses a chance to spend life in prison, she is burned at the stake. Twenty-five years later, a new trial finds her innocent. In an epilogue to the play, Joan's ghost appears to King Charles VII in a dream. Both those who supported and opposed her are present, and they all worship her. She asks if she may be resurrected, claiming that the world needs her help -- but everyone turns away from her.
Saint Joan guide sections