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The Maid of Lorraine
Courage, strength, spirit, and determination are just a few of the ways to describe one of the greatest heroes to ever live. Joan of Arc worked to reunite France at an age when most people would be at the end of their high school careers. She led an army to battle at an age when most people, today, are hanging out with friends and looking forward to college. Joan, however, was planning battles and strategizing attacks. She put her life on the line for her country simply because St. Catherine asked her to. The story of Joan of Arc is true yet a myth because she was referred to as the Maid of Lorraine, who was always thought to be a myth. Joan made this myth a reality. Joan of Arc is the story of a girl who united her people in an effort to reunite France and through her many triumphs and tragedies she is still looked up to today.
As Linda Seger points out, The hero is introduced in ordinary surroundings, in a mundane world, doing mundane things (309). This was precisely how Joan was introduced in the movie, Joan of Arc. Joan was first introduced to the audience while she was at church with her family. She was ten years old at the time and during the introduction, Joan received a sign from St. Catherine and was mystified by it. As a result, she ran out of the church and then returned after the service was over to ask for another sign and why she received the sign.
During the next seven years Joan received many signs from St. Catherine. The next scene showed Joan when she was seventeen years old and had made her decision to go speak to the King of France. This is the turning point that Seger refers to in her essay, Creating the Myth. This is the catalyst that sets the story in motion (Seger 310). This was also when the myth of the Maid of Lorraine was created. On Joan s journey to the King s palace, the group she was traveling with stopped at Sir Robert s castle. Joan was not aware of the stop and thought she was at the King s palace already. After she stated her case to Sir Robert, he sent a note to the King asking for permission for Joan to speak to the King. Sir Robert gave Joan the title of the Maid of Lorraine on that note so as not to give away her identity. This began the myth of the Maid of Lorraine.
Throughout Joan s journey, she received help from several sources. After she spoke to King Charles, he taught her how to fight and lead an army and throughout her journey, she continued to receive signs from St. Catherine as guidance. Her army, however, had a Colonel to guide the army so Joan only had to appear to be leading the army. However, this was not the case because Joan s instincts and determination led her to make many decisions about how to defeat the enemies. Joan also received help from her friends in the army when she is injured in the Battle of Orleans. After she is shot with an arrow in the shoulder, she received another sign from St. Catherine. This time it is St. Catherine herself as an angel, not just a light and a voice, encouraging Joan to continue in her efforts to reunite France.
After the battle, Joan s strength and courage was tested at a dinner given by King Charles for Joan after her army won the Battle of Orleans. Joan was taunted by King Charles when he told her he was signing a treaty with Burgundy, the last part of France not reunited. As it turned out, her defense was unnecessary because he was merely goading her and was going to allow her and her army go to battle for Paris, France s capital that was held under Burgundy s control. Her strength was further tested when her brother was killed during the battle for Paris. Joan s injury in the Battle of Orleans proved her strength and courage because she could have easily pulled her army back from fighting but didn t.
Joan hit rock bottom when her brother was killed in the battle for Paris. She felt responsible for the death of her brother because he followed her in the effort to reunite France. The resentment Joan s father had for her because of her brother s death only made it more difficult for Joan to recover from the point of rock bottom. When Joan finally went home to visit her family her mother was ecstatic to see her but her father still carried a grudge. Not until Joan was preparing to leave again did her father tell her that he wasn t angry anymore and he thought she was doing the right thing. This gave Joan the added strength and encouragement she needed to continue.
When Joan is sent to Compiegne to help its people stop the English from invading she is captured and put on trial for heresy. During her trial she admitted that there never was a sign given to her by St. Catherine. She was found to be a heretic by the Catholic Church and burned at the stake in the village of Beauvais.
All heroes change somehow during there fight for goodness. As Seger points out, we need to see the hero changed at the end, resurrected into a new type of life (311). Joan s ordeal before being reborn was the Battle of Orleans. Going into the battle she was doubtful about her identity as the Maid of Lorraine. After the battle and her injury, she truly believed she was the Maid of Lorraine. This impacted the people of France because winning the Battle of Orleans proved to them that Joan really was the Maid of Lorraine.
The myth Joan of Arc can be applied to modern day culture in a number of ways including single mothers, people fighting diseases, people who are unsure of where they want to go with their lives. First, single mothers work very hard to provide for their children and would fight with all they ve got for their children s sake. Sometimes things can be pretty rough for a family with one parent and the parent has to be the strong one in the family. This parent has no choice but prevail in whatever obstacles are presented. Secondly, people that are fighting diseases have many obstacles to overcome. This is especially true in those who have been in remission and their disease comes back. These people have to have the same strength and courage that Joan of Arc had when she went back to fight a battle to help the people of Compiegne after her father forgave her. Lastly, there are many people, especially in college, that are planning what they want to do with their lives. Very often college students change their mind about what they want to do with their lives multiple times. This is especially scary and stressful to students who are Juniors and Seniors that still are not certain of their choice about their major. This is where courage comes in. They need to have the same courage in sticking with a field of study that Joan had in fighting to for France.
Joan of Arc was an extraordinary girl in her time and her accomplishments are still considered extraordinary. She left her family to ask a King that she has never seen before for an army to fight to reunite her country. She does this only because she claimed to have received signs from St. Catherine. For someone to break away from the comfort of their home and fight for something that big requires much courage and strength. Joan led an army using her instincts to win battles and won the honor and respect of the people of France. Perhaps, more people in today s society need to follow their instincts and not be so concerned with what people will think just as Joan did.
Seger, Linda. Creating the Myth. Signs of Life in the USA: Readings on Popular
Culture for Writers. 3rd ed. Ed. Sonia Maasik and Jack Solomon. Boston:
Bedford/St. Martin s, 2000. 308-17.
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