This scene is set in the ambulatory of the Cathedral of Rheims, just after the Dauphin has been crowned King Charles VII. Joan is praying. She is happy that she has achieved what she has set out to do in crowning the king, but she is sad because she is misunderstood. She also tells Dunois that she misses the excitement of war and being a soldier. Finally, she confesses that, although the masses love her, she can sense the hatred of the nobles towards her. She does not understand the reason for their animosity.
Dunois explains that stupid and inefficient people never love those who prove them wrong and supercede them. The Dauphin and the Archbishop enter and discuss whether they should continue the war or seize the opportunity to prepare peace treaties to stop the fighting with the English and the civil struggle amongst the French. Joan believes that they should march onward and recapture Paris from the English. Dunois adds that they should move fast, for luck may not always be on their side; the other courtiers have no faith that Paris can be reclaimed from the English.
In fact, Charles and the Archbishop warn Joan against any further fighting; when she insists on continuing, they think she is stubborn and proud, The Earl of Warwick has offered 16,000 pounds for Joan’s capture. Dunois warns her that if she is captured, nobody will come to her rescue. The Archbishop agrees. Joan had earlier spoken very harshly to him; therefore, the Archbishop is angry with her and accuses her of undermining the authority of the Church. He tells her that if she is caught, she will be dragged through the streets and burned as a witch.
Dunois tells Bluebeard that if Joan involves herself in a foolish campaign, even he will not help her. Although Joan realizes that she is really alone in her fight, she is not afraid, for she knows that God is also alone. She hopes that her loneliness will be her strength. Notes Scene V depicts the beginning of Joan’s real ordeal. She does not understand why so many people are against her when she has merely tried to help them. Her reference to her ‘voices’ even annoys her strongest supporter, Dunois. He claims that if Joan does something foolish, he will no longer support her.
The King and the Archbishop have also warned her that if she insists on marching towards Paris, they will not come to her aid if she is captured. They truly think she is outstepping her bounds and threatening their way of life; they are as protective of their status quo as were the English in the last scene. Though Joan has seen the Dauphin crowned as she desired, she has been warned that the English have put a price on her head; therefore, she feels that she cannot go home, for she would surely be caught. She is also convinced that she can really capture Paris from the English; no one else in the room shares her faith. They are certain that she will be defeated and captured.
She is clearly told that if she is captured, neither the King nor the Church will be able to save her. When she is caught nine months later and sold to the English, she is unable to perform any miracles to save herself, and none of her supporters come to her aid, even though the English have threatened to burn her at the stake as a witch. In spite of her ordeal, Joan is very steadfast in her belief in God. SCENE VI This scene is set in a hall in the Castle at Rouen on May 30,1431. It has been nine months since Joan was captured by the Burgundians and sold as a prisoner of war to the English.
She is now brought before the ecclesiastical court of the Bishop of Beauvais (Peter Cauchon) to be tried for heresy. Before the trial begins, Cauchon appears and introduces the Earl of Warwick to the Inquisitor. The Earl, who was responsible for handing Joan over to the court, inquires about the progress of the proceedings. He also threatens the judges with violence if the inquisition does not condemn Joan. They, however, insist that Joan is to have a fair trial. In fact, the charges against her have been cut to twelve, down from the previous total of sixty-four.
The Inquisitors, however, assure the nobles that the twelve are enough to condemn Joan to death if they can be proven. Additionally the Inquisitor tells the Earl that Joan will be her own worst enemy, for her own words ruin her chance of freedom. Joan is brought in and questioned by the judges. Wearing chains, she is showing the strain of a long imprisonment and the anxiety of the trial. She is immune to her questioning and is barely coherent as she rambles on about her visions and voices. She does say that she is willing to obey the Church if it does not ask her to deny the existence of the voices.
Joan also claims that she has never gone against the authority of the Church, but reiterates her belief that one has to serve God before serving the Church. As the trial proceeds, the Inquisitor explains to Joan the disastrous consequences of her actions against the Church and Society. He does suggest, however, that Joan is an innocent who has absolutely no idea of the significance of what she has done. As a result, he implores the court to ignore the temporal charges with which De Stogumber and others are clouding the main issue and asks the court to act with mercy and justice.
A young monk and one of the Dominican judges, Brother Ladvenu, appears before Joan and tries to make her see that her visions come from the Devil and not God. He claims that it is the Devil who makes a woman wear a soldier’s clothes. She retorts that it is not evil, but entirely practical, to dress up as a man when soldiers surround her. No one, however, listens to her arguments, and she realizes that the executioner present is prepared to burn her as witch. Brother Ladvenu points out that her voices have lied, for they have promised to save her; but she is not being saved.
Joan finally agrees to recant in order to save herself; but when she finds out that she would still not be released, but perpetually imprisoned, she tears up the recantation and exclaims that she knows that her voices are right. She claims that the counsel of the court comes from the Devil, whereas her counsel comes from God. She is willing to be burned at the stake for her beliefs. The court calls for Joan’s immediate excommunication for being a heretic and a witch. Cauchon, however, insists that the trial be normal and legal.
On the other hand, the Inquisitor does not care if she is taken from the courtroom and burned at the stake without the proper legal actions. With his approval, Joan is taken from the courtroom. The Earl of Warwick stays away from Joan’s execution, but de Stogumber goes to witness Joan being burned at the stake. Appalled by the horror of the sight, he starts sobbing. When he comes in to join the Earl, he if filled with fear that he will be “damned to all eternity” for his part in her horrible, cruel death. As she is being burned, Joan displays great courage and composure. As the flames surround her, the faithful young woman asks for a cross.
Ladvenu grants her this request by holding a cross up for her to see. As he watches her in her final moments, he admits that Joan could not have been in counsel with the devil. The executioner comes in to report to the Earl of Warwick that the burning at the stake is complete and that there are no relics of Joan left, just as he had requested. He does inform the Earl, however, that Joan’s heart would not burn in the fire. The executioner tells Warwick, however, that he can “rest assured you have seen the last of her. ” The scene ends with Warwick saying, “The last of her? Hm! I wonder. “