Shaw reaches the height of his fame as a dramatist with the release of Saint Joan. Fascinated by the story of Joan of Arc, but unhappy with "the whitewash which disfigures her beyond recognition," he presents a realistic Joan: proud, intolerant, naïve, foolhardy, always brave-a rebel who challenged the conventions and values of her day.A fine spring morning on the river Meuse, between Lorraine and Champagne, in the year 1429 A.D., in the castle of Vaucouleurs.Captain Robert de Baudricourt, a military squire, handsome and physically energetic, but with no will of his own, is disguising that defect in his usual fashion by storming terribly at his steward, a trodden worm, scanty of flesh, scanty of hair, who might be any age from 18 to 55, being the sort of man whom age cannot wither because he has never bloomed.The two are in a sunny stone chamber on the first floor of the castle. At a plain strong oak table, seated in chair to match, the captain presents his left profile. The steward stands facing him at the other side of the table, if so deprecatory a stance as his can be called standing. The mullioned thirteenth-century window is open behind him. Near it in the corner is a turret with a narrow arched doorway leading to a winding stair which descends to the courtyard. There is a stout fourlegged stool under the table, and a wooden chest under the window.ROBERT. No eggs! No eggs!! Thousand thunders, man, what do you mean by no eggs?STEWARD. Sir: it is not my fault. It is the act of God.ROBERT. Blasphemy. You tell me there are no eggs; and you blame your Maker for it.STEWARD. Sir: what can I do? I cannot lay eggs.ROBERT [sarcastic] Ha! You jest about it.STEWARD. No, sir, God knows. We all have to go without eggs just as you have, sir. The hens will not lay.ROBERT. Indeed! [Rising] Now listen to me, you.STEWARD [humbly] Yes, sir.ROBERT. What am I?STEWARD. What are you, sir?ROBERT [coming at him] Yes: what am I? Am I Robert, squire of Baudricourt and captain of this castle of Vaucouleurs; or am I a cowboy?STEWARD. Oh, sir, you know you are a greater man here than the king himself. ROBERT. Precisely. And now, do you know what you are?STEWARD. I am nobody, sir, except that I have the honor to be your steward.ROBERT [driving him to the wall, adjective by adjective] You have not only the honor of being my steward, but the privilege of being the worst, most incompetent, drivelling snivelling jibbering jabbering idiot of a steward in France. [He strides back to the table].STEWARD [cowering on the chest] Yes, sir: to a great man like you I must seem like that.ROBERT [turning] My fault, I suppose. Eh?
George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950) was born into a lower-class family in Dublin, Ireland. During his childhood, he developed a love for the arts, especially music and literature. As a young man, he moved to London and found occasional work as a ghostwriter and pianist. Yet, his early literary career was littered with constant rejection. It wasn't until 1885 that he'd find steady work as a journalist. He continued writing plays and had his first commercial success with Arms and the Man in 1894. This opened the door for other notable works like The Doctor's Dilemma and Caesar and Cleopatra.