Nationalist Symbol of a Nation Divided: The Paradox of France's Joan of Arc, 1940-1944

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2012
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Haverford College. Department of History
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Thesis
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Award
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eng
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Open Access
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Abstract
This thesis aims to compare the ways in which Joan of Arc was portrayed by the French Resistance with the way she was depicted by the collaborationist Vichy government between 1940 and 1944. The fact that she could represent a Republican, anti-clerical, nationalist platform such as Charles de Gaulle's while also representing a staunchly Catholic, authoritarian, collaborationist agenda such as Philippe Petain's begs an analysis of the ways in which her history was contorted and forced to fit into their respective ideologies. Examining the validity and consistency of each political platform and comparing it to the way in which Joan of Arc was portrayed in that government reveals through art why Charles de Gaulle's ideology was more successful than Philippe Petain's. The analysis of Joan of Arc during this period is also accompanied by an analysis of another nationalist representational figure—la Marianne. Tracing the rise, fall, and re-birth of Marianne alongside the rise and fall of Joan of Arcs helps to explain how nationalist symbols can reflect the divided political atmosphere that, in this case, stemmed from the socio-political instability caused by the Dreyfus Affair during the French Third Republic. An analysis of the post-war atmosphere alongside the change in symbolic representation of France also reveals how Joan of Arc and Marianne contribute to the French people's denial of their collaboration with Nazi Germany and war crimes against the Jews. After examining the difference between the two different representations of Joan of Arc and comparing her to Marianne, this thesis also explores the similarities between the two figures in an attempt to unveil certain consistencies in order to determine the way that the French generally feel about themselves as a nation.
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