The Crime at Compiegne

Essay by Anonymous UserHigh School, 12th gradeA+, May 1996

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Joan of Arc as relates to Dostoevsky's "extraordinary man theory"

Proving herself to be a good deal more than ordinary, Jeanne d'Arc, the Maid of Orleans and patron saint of France, united her nation at a critical hour in history and decisively turned the Hundred Years' War in France's favor, forever ending England's dreams of hegemony over France. The crimes and eventual triumph of this most amazing young woman are better understood when applied to Dostoevsky's 'extraordinary man' theory.

Dostoevsky's theory, as written in Crime and Punishment, claims that all of mankind is divided into two basic categories, the 'ordinary' and the 'extraordinary.' Where the 'ordinary' masses are 'by nature conservative, staid, live in obedience and like being obedient,' the 'extraordinary' few 'all transgress the law... for the sake of an idea.' It is this idea or 'new word' that calls the 'extraordinary' man to 'allow his conscious to...step over certain obstacles' in order to fulfill this idea.

Jeanne's 'new word' was that of the call of Heaven. At only 13, Jeanne began hearing voices that were sometimes accompanied by visions. She was convinced that these voices were those of St. Michael and the early martyrs St. Catherine of Alexandria and St. Margaret. These voices exhorted her to help the Dauphin, later Charles VII, king of France, recapture the city of Orleans and thereby win the Hundred Years' War against England. Jeanne succeeded in convincing Charles and his board of theologians that she had a divine mission to save France. Approving her claims, she was granted a small detachment of troops to command. Dressed in armor and carrying a white banner that represented God blessing the French royal emblem, the fleur-de-lis, she led the French to a decisive victory over the English at Orleans.

Having accomplished this miraculous feat she...