Essay on Role of Rulers in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Shaw’s Saint Joan

Essay on Role of Rulers in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Shaw’s Saint Joan

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Role of Rulers in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata and Shaw’s Saint Joan  


Rulers, by definition, play a crucial role in a society. They choose the direction that the society will move, how it will move (whether it be imperial, economic, or militaristic in nature), and allocates the resources of the nation towards these goals. These leaders come to power in many different ways. Some are elected, some are appointed, and some seem to gain the position by strange strokes of fate.

In literature, these individuals, their goals, and how they attained their position make a statement about the society they represent. In "Saint Joan," by Bernard Shaw, and "Lysistrata," by Aristophanes, the governing individuals, although their positions and goals are very similar, have extremely differing personalities. The reason for this difference lies in the goals that each author has for these rulers, and the points the author wishes to convey.

The first and most technical difference is how each ruler is brought into the story. In ement about the society they represent. In "Saint Joan," by Bernard Shaw, and "Lysistrata" the governing official is the Magistrate. He appears shortly after the women take control of the Acropolis, totally unannounced. He immediately begins commenting on the situation, the first male in the play to intellectually react to the women. Moments before,the old men were trying to burn down the Acropolis to flush the women out. The Magistrate arrives and begins to assess the situation.

On the other hand, in "Saint Joan," the Dauphin (Charles) is introduced with much more description and anticipation (he is even announced by a page). He is described in great detail, giving the reader the impression that the future king ...


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...e fighting. Rather than agree with her or compromise, Charles simply dismissed her as a silly girl who needed to go back home. While the Magistrate's actions towards the conflict prove that women can accomplish great feats, Charles' actions show that firm leaders are only wanted when useful. Beyond that, they are a mere annoyance.

The basic difference between these two characters (Charles and the Magistrate) is their depth. The Magistrate serves to provide an intellectual and serious male point of view in this comedic play; this is all. Charles serves many purposes; a contrast to Joan, an example of Joan's persuasiveness, and mainly a satire of politics. Each author developed the character as much as necessary in order to get their point across, which can vary from practically none at all, or filled with details, down to the shape of a character's nose.

 

 

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