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Arms and the Man Theme

Arms and the Man Theme

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Published by: rauaf70777 on Nov 12, 2009
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03/25/2013

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1.
 Arms and the Man
is a play for the theatre. It is a social commentary onwar, military values, and manners in the upper class. It was Shaw's firsteffort for the stage, and did not enjoy success critically or financiallyinitially, but it has become quite a famous and often-performed play.The plot of the play is broadly thus: A Serbian soldier in the Serbo-Bulgarian war takes refuge in the bedroom of young Bulgarian ladynamed Raina. She is engaged to a Bulgarian officer named Major Saranoff, whom Raina has just heard has distinguished himself in thelatest action. Raina is kind-hearted, however, and does not give awaythe whereabouts of this enemy fugitive. Raina and her mother are kindto the soldier, who is scornful of military honor and glory, and seems tothink only of avoiding harm to himself and others. They keep his visithidden from the rest of the family.The war ends, and Raina's father returns home. Raina's father denigratesRaina's fiance's prowess as a military leader; then that young gentlemancomes for a visit. There is a discussion about a young Swiss soldier (fighting for the Serbians) taking refuge in the house of a Bulgarian.Raina and her mother Catherine now know that the story of their harboring a soldier has become known, though no one knows that it wasindeed them who hid the enemy.Raina and Sergius Saranoff are reunited, and their emotions are syrupyand insincere. Sergius has an obvious attraction to the maid, Louka.Catherine and Raina's subterfuge is almost found out, when the coat thatthey lent to the soldier is requested by Raina's father. Then the manthey harbored, now revealed to be a Swiss army officer (who had foughton the Serbian side) named Major Bluntschli, comes to return the coat.Raina and Catherine try again to conceal their previous acquaintancewith him.The coat is duly found, placed again in the closet where it was supposedto have hung all along. Raina's father does not appear to have noticedthe subterfuge. When Raina and Bluntschli talk she tells him she left anote and a portrait in the coat for him; he never found it, which meansthese incriminating bits of evidence are still in the coat pocket. In thecourse of this act it becomes clear that Saranoff loves Louka, and Rainaloves Bluntschli, so the initial engagement of Saranoff and Raina is now
 
in trouble. Raina's father is prevented from finding the incriminating photo, but he knew of it all along. Raina's father reveals the deception,and it becomes clear which couples love each other. Bluntschli tellseveryone that he is a rich man, so it becomes possible for Raina to marryhim, and Saranoff to marry the maid. On this ridiculous note the playends happily.While it is not always easy to discern Shaw's meaning from the play, thisis definitely an anti-war play. The long-held notions of military gloryand honor are all shown to be silly and counter-productive, and pacifismand a certain cynical self-interest are held to be more sensible. Thecomedy is sometimes scathing, but the overall play is light-hearted.
 Arms and the Man
has become a classic.
Captain Bluntschli 
Bluntschli is a realist who believes in adapting to a situation in order to survive. A professionalsoldier, he knows that he is only a tool and he has no illusions about war and the practical actionsone must take to win battles and stay alive. His most famous feature is that he keeps chocolatesin his cartridge belt rather than bullets. His common sense appeals to Sergius, who is in awe of Bluntschli’s ability to figure out troop movements. This influence helps Sergius make thedecision to be honest about Louka and to change his life.
Major Petkoff and Catherine in Arms and the Man 
:
Comment on the roles of Major Petkoff and Catherine in Armsand theMan.Major Petkoff and Catherine are typical secondary characters,with

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