Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Huot, Sylvia

Degree Name

M.A. (Master of Arts)

Legacy Department

Department of Foreign Languages and Literatures


Joan; of Arc; Saint; 1412-1431; French literature--Themes; motives; France--Civilization


Joan of Arc entered a political chaos when she followed voices which she believed to be sent by God. France and England had been at war since the early fourteenth century due to territorial claims and the papal schism. King Charles VI died, leaving an uncrowned son and a treaty which gave his daughter in marriage to King Henry V, naming their son king of France and England. Questions of Charles VII's legitimacy were also posed. Joan's voices told her to raise the siege at Orleans, to crown the dauphin Charles king of France, and to lead the troops against the English. Joan's early quests were successful, however, as her victories waned, her supporters began to doubt. She was captured in battle, handed over to the English, and tried for heresy. Both the English and the French used Joan in their political agendas. The English believed that to proclaim her a heretic would cast doubt upon Charles VII's coronation and would aid their claim to it. The French used Joan not only when she was alive to achieve success for Charles VII, but also after her death. A post-humous rehabilitation trial was ordered to reinstate her reputation for the sake of the king. Joan has also been used as a symbol for women's rights. Fifteenth-century poet Christine de Pizan's portrayal of Joan reflects her belief that women are not cursed by God, nor ignorant, but are capable of accomplishing extraordinary goals without violating fundamental cultural values. Christine sees Joan as called by God to perform traditionally male tasks, citing Biblical and mythological precedents of female heroes. Instead of calling for reforms in sex roles, she is praising the female gender while supporting traditional values such as monarchy, chastity, and humility. Contrarily, Marina Warner, a twentieth-century feminist, sees Joan's crossing traditional sex roles as threatening society's status quo in spite of her adherence to traditional values. She is the ideal androgyne: a "pucelle" who has usurped masculine strength and power to enhance the female.


Includes bibliographical references (pages 65-66)


v, 66 pages




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