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Many days before, when I was in A Muslim family I heard this play.

play was again repeated to me in my professional life when I struck myself
herein to analyze Rainas remarks-Oh! The Chocolate Cream Soldier--

And, by the incantation of this verse,
Scatter, as from an unextinguishd hearth
Ashes and sparks, my words among mankind!
After some reluctance, Raina also accepts him saying that she is accepting
him as her chocolate cream soldier and not as a rich businessman.
Bluntschli looks at his watch and becomes business like. He instructs
Petkoff to be ready to deal with the infantry of the Timok division. He
requests Sergius not to get married until he comes back. He promises to be
back at five in the evening of Tuesday night. Then, with a military bow to
the ladies, he goes out.
Sergius [enigmatically]: The world is not such an innocent place as we
used to think,Petkoff.
The play is the best of Shaws plays from the point of view of stage craft.
Shaw has shown excellent brilliance in contriving the stage situations. The
actions take place in a garden and two rooms only. We feel the tension
that Raina feels. All the situations are well controlled. The plot is simple
and actors are alive. Although audiences are kept tense but all the bitter
truths have been sugar coated and the ion is removed with laughter. The
Puritarian setting of the play also goes a long way to make it popular.
The title of the play, Arms and the Man, as Shaw himself acknowledges in
the Preface to Plays Pleasant, is taken from the first line of Drydens
Virgil. The Aeneid, the famous epic of the Latin poet Virgil, begins with the
Latin phrase Arma virumque cano. In his translation of The Aeneid,
Dryden skillfully renders this phrase into English, Arms and the Man I
sing. Drydens line is one of the most heroic lines in heroic poetry.
Raina enters and exclaims, Oh! The chocolate cream soldier!
To make the situation worse, Bluntschli comes back to return the coat.
Catherine tries to send him away secretly, but her husband and Sergius see
him and, as he is known to them, they receive him cordially. They make
him stay, for they need his help in the dispersal the troops. Meanwhile
Raina noticed her hero flirting with her maid. Louka excites jealous in
Sergius by telling him that Raina is in love with the Swiss who took refuge
in her bedroom and whom she is sure to many if he returns as she had
overheard their conversation.
Raina: Oh,I see now exactly what you think of me ! You were not
surprised to hear me lie. To you it was something I probably did every
War is over, and Major Petkoff and Sergius return home. After the first
raptures of re-union, the soldiers settle down. Sergius starts flirting with
Louka, the maid-servant. One day, he speaks of a Swiss officer of the
Serbian Army who told the romantic story of his being sheltered and saved
by a young Bulgarian lady into whose bedroom he had entered. Raina
and her mother are shocked and worried.
Again Bluntschlis friend tells the story to the father of the same young
lady whose house is the only private house with windows and who does not
suspect his own daughter at all. Of all the days in the year Bluntschli
comes to return the coat on the 6
of March, 1886, and is seen by Petkoff
remains unaware, rather he is fooled by his wife and daughter.
A ragged urchin, aimless and alone,
Loitered about that vacancy; a bird
Flew up to safety from his well-aimed stone:
Bluntschli is Shaws idea of a soldier. He marches and fights like the real
man with his stomach. Other things being equal, he prefers life to death.
Long fighting leaves his nerves on edge. He is uncontrollably sleepy after
being awake for two nights. He eats cream chocolates when they are
offered to him. Such an idea of a soldier was revolting to Raina, as it was
to Shaws first audiences, but it will be recognized as the reality by all who
have been soldiers. Everyone knows that the ideal soldier of poetry and
fiction is mere saw-dust and that, if he existed, he would be the laughing
stock of the Army.
There are not many diversions and the plot is simple, the play is divided in
three acts only. In the First Act, we have a melodramatic setting. There is
the armyadoring heroine fully absorbed in the romantic thought of war
and love, with a midnight entry of a fugitive in her bedroom. Directly or
indirectly we are introduced to all major characters of the play in an
atmosphere of military drama. Shaw is ever disengaged, composed,
deliberate, good humoured - all these qualities are reflected in his style.
One will look in vain for the softer graces of sentiment, for the tendered
play of fancy. His style is characterized by a hard glitter of wit, the
Bandying of argument, the close reasoning. And his style is very well
adapted for the propagation of his ideas. His aim is always to drive the
point home. He has well succeeded in it. In Act-II, Shaw attacks romantic
illusions of war and love, thus takes the theme of the play in hand. Two
strands of plot now become clearly separate- the Bluntschli-Raina
Episode. The romantic illusions about love have been shattered mercilessly
here, where two events mix, the plot becomes complicated but the action
advances considerably. The Third Act has no suspense. The climax comes
and illusions about war are also shattered and right pairs of lovers have
been made. So there is simplicity and clarity in the plot and the play is not
presenting a bundle of complications. Shaw, with his frank and free style,
his mixture of humour and wit and his unconventional characters, has
been able to catch the attention of the audience and has been a successful
playwright to maintain his popularity and hold it as well.
I hear secret convulsive sobs from young men, at anguish
With themselves, remorseful after deeds done;
Shaws plays are always argumentative and full of ideas. As in Major
Barbara he is discussing poverty, so in Arms and the Man, he is discussing
and arguing about the real nature of love and war. Both are esteemed by
people in the wrong light but both are very different from what we think
they ought to be. This technique of using ideas adds meaning to his plays
and makes them more useful. Arms and the Man displays Shaws favourite
device of inversion of conventional situations regarding the relation of
men and women. Contrary to the established conventions, Catherine is the
boss in the Petkoff establishment, not her husband. Nicola pays
reverences to her. Bluntschli says, The officers send for their wives to keep
discipline. Louka is the force and energy in her romance with Sergius. She
takes the initiative although he wanted flirtation; she sees to it that it
becomes something more serious.
What passing-bells for these who die as cattle?
Only the monostrous anger of the guns.
Only the stuttering rifles rapid rattle
Can patter out their hasty orisons.
Bluntschli then gives her his introduction that he is a Swiss serving
Serbian Army as a professional. He shocks her by his attitude to war. He
tells her that war is a folly and that soldiers are fools and about himself he
says that he would prefer carrying chocolates with him to cartridges. He
says that soldiers are not heroes but ordinary men who like food and
value life above everything else. Raina asks him to describe the great
cavalry charge that brought the Bulgarians victory. He vividly pictures the
Quixotic bravado of the leader of the attack and denounces the whole
thing as unprofessional and suicidal. Rainas dream castle collapses, a
sort of realistic reaction starts in her and she begins to see the Swiss in a
new light. She is so much fascinated by him that she conceals her
photograph in the pocket of the coat with an inscription, Raina, to her
chocolate cream soldier.
Let those who go home tell the same story of you:
Of action with a common purpose, action
None the fruitful if neither you nor we
Know, until the judgement after death,
What is the fruit of action.
Literature reflects the life. The mirror that an artist holds up to the world
is the mirror of his own personality. In theory, drama does not permit a
writer to represent his life but in practice, writers do make their
personalities felt. He makes his presence felt through the utterances of his
various characters, in their personalities and makes the reality felt by the
audiences also. Shaw makes fun of the Army by his term chocolate cream
soldier. At a time when chocolate did not secure the approval of the Army
dieticians as a battleworthy concentrated food, he made a soldier get the
nickname chocolate- cream soldier by gobbling chocolate creams
enthusiastically. The term the chocolate cream soldier is quite amusing,
while Shaws purpose is serious so, its doubtful whether it would have been
a suitable title for Shaws play. Shaw exposes in this play the falsity of the
order that denies the man bound by the romantic bonds of arms. He
builds his play not on the fun, given by a particular soldier, but on the
true relation between man and his arms. Hence, Arms and the Man and
not the chocolate-cream soldier seems to be an appropriate title.
Louka [wistfully]: I wish I could believe a man could be as unlike a
woman as that. I wonder are you really a brave man?
Louka enters the room and informs them that all the windows are to be
closed and shutters made fast, because there will be shooting in the street
as the Serbs are being chased by Bulgarian Army. She closes the windows
and fastens the shutters and then she and Catherine leave. Raina is left
alone in her bedroom. She gives a kiss of approval to her heros portrait
and starts reading before going to sleep.
Shaws real intention in the play is to unmask love and war. He wants to
tell the world that war is not a chivalrous sport. Sergius, who n is
responsible of romanticism of war, becomes wiser through the experience of
war. Through his disillusionment, Shaw is conveying the great truth about
the unheroism of successful fighting. Shaws mouthpiece, Bluntschli, cares
more for chocolates than for bullets and says the first duty of every soldier,
being a human being, is to save his own life.
Bluntschli enters her life quite dramatically; he is a fugitive who is
pursued by Bulgarians soldiers, climbs up the water pipe to the balcony of
her room. At first Raina is compelled to receive him, but later, when the
pursurers come seeking him, she pities him and saves him. This is the
beginning of her attraction for him.
Catherine: You will marry Louka! Sergius you are obliged to marry
Sergius (adamantly folding his arms). Nothing can oblige me.
Chocolates symbolize food, the necessity of life, bullets symbolize the arms,
the romance of life, food sustains life is more precious than the glory of
war. In the same way, Shaw denounces love and marriage. For him
higher love is nothing but list. Raina and Sergius both are lost in such
romance but ultimately they are disillusioned. Sergius gets ready to marry
a housemaid who has no special understanding and Raina accepts
Bluntschli, the unheroic but practical man. The two marriages might seem
improbable but they do symbolize the realities of life. Shaw proves through
them marriage is the procreation of generation, which is more important
than the romance. So the conflict between romanticism and realism,
which was the main target of his psychological treatment of the play, ends
with the victory of realism.
I would not be Sisyphus,
there were things that I should learn to break.
On the morning the 6
March, 1886, Sergius sees Louka, it seems for the
first time. There is no indication in the play that she was not in the family
when Sergius left for the battlefield. If she was in service with the Petkoffs
even then, there is no reason why Sergius had not fallen in love with her
earlier. On the day of the action of Act II, Sergius is least disposed to pay
attention to Louka is busy making love to his fianc whom he has met after
a period of four months. When Raina goes to fetch her hat he wants her to
return at once because time hangs heavy upon him in her absence. After
she has gone we are told that his face is radiant with the loftiest
exaltation rising out of romantic love. It is difficult to reconcile with his
behavior a minute afterwards. Again, we are told Raina is at this time
spying upon him but she does not understand what the matter is. There is
no reason why Raina should not have spied from the beginning to the end
when once her suspicion, and then her jealousy have been aroused.
Instead she goes in to fetch the hat and does not follow Sergius and Louka
to the stable yard. Further, one day is too short a time for all the events to
happen without appearing to be improbable.
Raina [bitterly]: Major Saranoff has changed his mind. And when I wrote
that on the photograph, I did not know Captain Bluntschli was married.
Bluntschli [startled into vehement protest]: Im not married.
In this farcical comedy, the dialogue keeps pace with situations. Right
from the time Bluntschli comes on the scene, the conversation becomes
alive. When Raina asks him, I suppose, now you have found me out, you
despise me he answers with a sparkle of wit Im your infatuated
admirer. All the dialogues are spicy and lively with wit and humour.It is
obvious why the play has gained a continuous success till today, but after
World War-II its popularity increased still more. The soldiers who came
back from war justified Shaws view on war. The peculiar charm of Arms
and the Man is that it is professing to be anti romantic, but it is gaily
romantic besides being rich in wit and character.
Catherine:He certainly ought to be promoted when he marries Raina.
Besides, the country should insist on having atleast one native general.
It is one of Shaws earlier plays, and it does not totally break away from
the old tradition. The main plot is divided in three main Acts and each
Act has got separate scenes and with each scene the characters change. In
the First Act all the characters have been introduced and in the Second
Act the plot rises to a climax with many intrigues. In the last Act each
thread has been knitted to its separate and proper place and the
conclusion is drawn.
Raina [succumbing with a shy smile]: To my chocolate cream
Critics have often criticized Shaw for making his characters his
mouthpieces. But of, in reality even if Shaw is presenting his ideas through
his character he is not murdering their individuality; rather he has not
made his characters classical heroes all perfect. They have the weaknesses
of their own and that is why they are humans and are real, Bluntschli
being the most attractive of them. He is a fine figure, comic in his talk and
behavior with an infectious exuberance. Sergius excites laughter with his
pompous pretensions while Raina enchants. The adventures of Major
Petkoff invoke sheer fun; all these are excellent acting parts are extremely
effective on stage.
Bernard Shaw has used the stage as a pulpit to communicate to the public,
directly or indirectly, and whatever he said, heroes entertainingly. And
that is why the interest of people in his plays has never abated, but has only
grown with the passage of years. His farcical comedy Arms and the Man
has attracted all classes of people. The play has always been
extraordinarily effective in the theatre and there are many reasons for its
Again, when she senses the figure of Bluntschli in her room, she is
described as crounching on the bed which once again suggests her
timidity and lack of courage, but Rainas conversation with Blutschli
doesnot reveal any timidity in her inspite of the pistol in his hand. We even
hear her asking Bluntschli boldly how he knows that she is afraid to die.
Here she is not the same Raina that she was a few minutes earlier. She has
been to behave inconsistently by Shaw; just to make the dialogue crisp and
interesting Shaw has ignored the reality of the character.
Sergius: Dearest, all my deeds have been yours. You inspired me. I have
gone through the war like a knight in a tournament with his lady looking
down at him.
Shaw has written discussion dramas. There are two kinds of discussions
mainly, the discussion of problems for their inherent interest. In such
dramas we have nothing more important than the discussion itself. For
example Don Juan in hell. Secondly, the discussion as an emanation of
conflict between persons. Shaw is a known expert in writing verbal duels in
which acerbity and interest derive not from the question discussed, but
from situation and character. The villain in his plays is civilization,
regarding some special problem framed for the occasion, constitutes the
Sergius: Allow me to see, is there any mark? (He moves up the bracelet
and examines the bruise caused by his tight grasp. She stands still, not
staring at him, liking it but not displaying it). Ffff!Is there any pain?
The very first act takes place in Rainas bed-chamber, and it brings before
ones minds eye all the articles of her room, the window curtains, the
Turkish Ottoman, the counterpane and hangings of the wall, the painted
wooden shrine, the little carpet and all the oriental textual fabrics, the
wash stand consisting of an enamelled iron basin with a pail beneath it
in a painted metal frame, the dressing-table, covered with a cloth of
many colours, with an expensive toilet mirror on it, the chest of drawers,
also covered with a variegated cloth. Through an open window with a
little balcony, a peak of the Balkans is seen, as if it were quite close at
hand, and as it is night it appears wonderfully white and beautiful in the
starlit snow. Through this vivid picture Shaw has given us an
understanding of Rainas character. She is intensively conscious of the
romantic beauty of the atmosphere and of the fact that her own youth and
beauty are part of it. These facts we cannot gather only from dialogues,
these are marked by the spectator or with Shaws description to the reader
also they become significant.
We may take Arms and the Man as a compromise between a well made play
and a thesis play. Although there is not much action in the play but the
compromise has been made by a good development of character and
proper use of dialogues. The opening of the play is very dramatic; at first
Raina is enjoying the night and is happy over the victory of her lover but
all of a sudden scene changes, shots are heard and a Swiss soldier,
unknown to her, enters her room. Then, again audiences are relieved
from the tension with the entrance of a stupid Russian officer and still the
scene is further vitalized with the dialogue between Raina and the
fugitive. He tells her that the cavalry officer of Bulgarian Army, who is her
lover, also, is a humbug, perhaps even a pretender and a coward. And
somewhere in her heart the girl agrees with him. Her mother too
participates in the intrigue and lends the fugitive her husbands coat (in
which Raina hides her snap also with an inscription for the soldier) to
make his escape easy.
Id study those red and blue mountain
Ranges as on a map that offered escape,
The veins and arteries the roads
I could travel to freedom when I grew.
Again, when Bluntschli picks up the dressing gown of Raina as the best
weapon for his protection, he throws his pistol on the divan and hides
behind the curtain that was later on another circumstance was noticed
even by a maid. It is nothing but a mock-search serving the purpose of the
dramatist to prove something indifferent who must keep also the military
man, Bluntschli alive if the play has to go on till the Third Act.
Raina is a girl with a romantic disposition and is influenced by the
operas she has watched. Sergius too is a Bulgarian Byron. Raina and
Sergius both suffer from psychological criss-crossing. Raina and Serrgius
say something, think something else and yet something else; so they are
always indecisive. There is no consistency between their intention and
action. Shaw fought against show and hypocrisy. Though stark, his realism
is healthy. Through Arms and the Man he has depicted the healthy realism
and the unaffected realistic view of life. This view is embodied in
Bluntschli who is a personification of realism of Shaw. Romantic Raina,
after meeting him, begins to see everything in a new light. She discovers
that what he says is true. He removes her illusionary ideas and false
romantic conceptions of war and love and thus makes her realize her real
self. Louka and Nicola are in the same line. In his own life, which is
certainly better, because it is based on reality, as contrasted with that of
Sergius, he shows the hollowness of the pomp and pageantry of war. Then
again Sergius, with his higher love himself stands exposed, baited as he is
by Captain Bluntschli. The aim of Shaw in writing the play is just the
reverse to that of Virgil in writing his epic, Aenid.
Shaw in Arms and the Man has declared that war is dangerous and its
consequences are bitter. People, who have witnessed the horrors of the two
world wars, can well appreciate the anti-war cries of Shaw. Shaw asserts
the supremacy not of a war hero, but that of a real human being. Every
man is a human being and wants to live long as possible. This is what
Bluntschli says.
After analyzing the title of the play, we come to the conclusion that the
play is intended to show the weakness in warfare, according for Arms
and to provide an example of a Man who understands fighting and yet
gives it up because he considers it more important to become a normal
man attending to his natural business. This is what both Bluntschli and
Sergius feel about. They know how to fight, yet they are not in favour of
Virgils phrase, as understood from Drydens translation, praises the
soldier and the weapons of war. It is a heroic expression that brings to the
mind the sparkle of arms, and glory of the warrior. But of, Shaw has given
a different picture in his play. Instead of glorifying war and heroism like
Virgil, he exposes the romantic glamour attached with war and the
profession of a soldier. Though the opening of the play creates an
atmosphere of war and heroism but the end strips it of all its romantic
glamour. Shaw shows chivalry of love and chivalry of war to be fake.
Raina, as the play develops, goes through a process of disillusionment; all
her romantic ideals are shattered and she sees what war, after all, is and
how false and insincere higher love proves to be. Captain Bluntschli opens
her eyes to the truth about these concepts.
Be through my lips to unawkend earth
The trumpet of a prophecy! O Wind,
If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?
Arms and the Man is having two themes-love and war- closely knitted with
a single yarn with great skill. Shaw has shown how the romance of war
leads to the romance of love. Arms and the Man portrays this having
ruthlessly thrown among the idealisms. With a joy akin to that of Moliere,
Shaw turns on the absurd impulses in men and women to lie and pose;
and in Arms and the Man he subjects every lie to ludicrous exposure. He
wanted to make fun of popular romantic false ideas regarding love and
marriage. Shaw believed in marriage as a necessary and desirable
There is a subtle suggestion that arms is perhaps referring to the embraces
of lovers, thus giving a double meaning to the title. The story is dealing
with both, love and war. Rainas love for Sergius is based on her romantic
notions of love which are soon shattered by a practical professional
soldier-Bluntschli. He appeals to Raina so much that she develops a liking
for him and ultimately the play terminates in their engagement. Again,
Louka entraps Sergius, who is bethroned to Raina and at the end; -both
are engaged to become husband and wife. Moreover war is there at the
back of love-on the stage its love which people see most of the time. War
only prepares a background for love theme. So, we may say that the title
has a double meaning.
But of, he was of opinion that the romantic halo generally given to it led
ultimately to disillusionment and unhappiness. This is the point of view
that he projects through the love-theme in the play. When Sergius turns
from the mistress to the maid without any apparent loss of intensity or
sincerity in passion and when Raina abandons the copy-book here for her
chocolate-cream soldier, Shaw succeeds in breaking the myth of romance
that surrounds love and marriage in the popular imagination.
Major Petkoff: Luckily he is no more our enemy. (In a worried tone) I
think you have come here as a friend, not for striking deal on horses or
Shaws Arms and the Man evolve out of the background of war and deals
with the man-in-arms. Its purpose is to ridicule the fictitious morals of
war and to show up the interior of the man bound by the romantic bonds
of arms. Shaw proves that war is run by pathetic chivalry, cheap egoism,
and pompous inefficiency and that a soldier is, in reality, more interested
in chocolates (symbolizing food) than in cartridges (symbolizing arms).
Shaw is the giant master of human psychology. This statement is absolutely
true. He probes deep into the various aspects of human psychology which he
presents through his characters. In Arms and the Man he has successfully
delineated the psychological conflict between romanticism and realism
and two sets of characters depicting these two ways of life.
The Man (feigns as if highly impressed) A Major! Oh, God such a high
position. It is hard to think!
At the beginning of the play, we meet Raina Petkoff living in a world of
which Sergius Saranoff is the central figure. She considers herself in love
with him. She has gathered her ideas of that passion from Byron and
Pushkin,and from operas she witnessed during her visits to the cities. She
believes that what holds her and her Sergius together is higher love and
that it will lead them into a married life of never-ending happiness. Her
ideas about Sergius receive a rude awakening when she listens to the
matter-of-fact, frank and lively Bluntschli, but even then she persists in
believing that her lover is a hero of romance. When he is back from the war
she receives him with warmth and calls him her hero and her king,
confident that they have realized higher love.
Sergius too, is in love, and finds the higher reaches of that passion
realized in his romance with Raina. When he returns, after a rapturous
show of joy, he is ready to make love to the maid as soon as his queens
back is turned. Then he openly, and with some conviction, chooses Louka
as his life partner. All his empty pretensions fade away, and he is ready to
find sober and sure happiness in Loukas company. Raina maintains very
lofty and romantic ideals, based on the romantic concepts of war and
love. She glorifies war and sentimentalises love, but she has her own
dreams or misgivings. She doubts Sergius, but the moment she hears the
news of the triumphant cavalry charge led by him, all her doubts dispel
and when she talks to Bluntschli, she forms an entirely different opinion
about Sergius. She keeps on changing her mind.
A few minutes later, her vision founders, when she sees Sergius shamelessly
making love to Louka, her maid. The apostle of higher love falls down
from the pedestal where her imagination had placed him. Hence she is
unmoved, when he decides to marry Louka. She herself is ready to find
happiness with Bluntschli.
When Shaw makes Sergius marry Louka and Raina consents to become
Bluntschlis wife, he enforces his notion that marriage is not the
combination of high-flown desires and romantic passion, but a contract
which is a means of bringing into being a better generation. As in Major
Barbara, Barbara, mother of creation selects Cusins as her life partner to
produce a better generation, not because of Idealistic love. In Arms and
the Man the heroic soldier is dumb before the professional military
expert, so the bubble of the higher love, as proclaimed by Sergius and
Raina, is pricked by the real thing, introduced by those masters of reality,
Bluntschli and Louka. Yet Louka has her glamorous moods, rebuked by
one even nearer the disillusioned heart of things. You have the soul of a
servant, Nicola.- Yes, thats the secret of success in service.
Intellectually, the play is a setting in opposition to the clear, actual,
apparently cynical view of things as they are, voiced by Nicola and
presently elaborated by Bluntschli, against the racial way taken by Sergius
and Raina of making believe that the facts of life are romantically
different. Even Rainas parents, who pride themselves much on their wealth
and honour, are at least convinced of the worth of Bluntschli as their son-
in-law by his most unromantic enumeration of his possessions-many
horses, so many carriages, so many pairs of sheets and blankets, etc. the
very triumph of the character is the antithesis between the conventional
standard of life and the real motive in human life.
Then, by the end of the First Act, Raina has been shown to be stripped of
her romanticism regarding war and heroism of Sergius, but in the Second
Act when she neets Sergius she behaves as though no change has occurred
in her. She continues to pretend in front of Sergius.
Bluntschli: Never mind whether its heroism or baseness. Nicolas the
ablest man Ive met in Bulgaria. Ill make him manager of a hotel if he
can speak French and German.
Then Serbian artillery discovers of its not having proper ammunition; at
the last moment which is hard to believe. Bluntschli carries chocolates in
his cartridge box instead of bullets and ammunition, at the time when he
should be worried about his safety he can think of chocolate creams seems
improbable. Then again in the cold weather in which one would like to
wear a coat or sit near the fire, Bluntschli had not even once put his
hands in his coats pocket to discover Rainas photograph.
The romantic view of war, which has sought to dispel, is based on the
idealistic notion that men fight because they are heroes, and that the
running of the greatest risk brings the brightest glory. It is such a bloated
notion that Raina Petkoff has about her Sergius. She believes that the
world is a happy place where heroes partake in such adventures and their
heroines feel the glory. Then suddenly reality dawns upon her in the form
of the weary, dirt-stained Swiss soldier. His very appearance and his
notions about a soldiers duty alarm yet impress her as nearer truth than
her own high-flown notions.
Raina (To Louka). Do not fasten the shutters. I can do it on hearing any
disturbing noise.
The title which has been taken from Virgil carries its own significance.
Chesterton calls it a mounting and ascending phrase, conveying the
idea that man is more than his weapons. It cannot be said that Shaw seeks
to express through his play a total antipathy towards war, as is seen in
Tolstoy and other modern humanitarians and pacifists. Shaw is more
concerned with abolishing romantic ideas war; he wants to denude it of
such an attractive garb. We are apt to appreciate Shaws outlook when we
realize how war has survived as a method of settling human disputes,
because it has also been looked upon as an opportunity for the display of
all that is best in man.
When she meets the stark realist, Bluntschli, her romantic notions start
getting cold at once. When Sergius comes back from the war, her old
romantic mood revives. It seems she cannot think anything herself. She
thinks what she is made to think by others and works under their
influence. When her contact with Bluntschli is renewed and Sergius proves
inconsistent in love; she leaves Sergius to his kind and marries the
chocolate cream soldier, Bluntschli. This is a process of Metamorphosis
from Romanticism to Realism.
Shaw has shown the war in the light of the common sense- a matter of
business and superior forces, devoid of romance and heroism, except for
featherbrained fools like Sergius. The genuine glamour of war is that felt
by the man who stays at home and makes a fortune out of it, and a
rhapsodic exponent of this position is given to us in Andrew Undershaft.
The crowning point of the disillusionment is in Sergius himself. He returns
from the war a sadder, but wiser man. He has been disillusioned, and as
he puts it, the cavalry charge was the cradle and the grave of his military
reputation. He has sent in his resignation, and is not going to withdraw
it. Raina remained unconscious of this effect of disillusionment in her
fianc for a long time. It is interesting to note that, Bluntschlis story of
the cavalry charge has partly shaken. Rainas faith in her romantic
idealism about war, Sergius seems to be quite sobered by his experience. He
has come to realize that soldiering is The cowards art of attacking
mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of harm way when you
are weak. The wisest maxim of war is never to fight any enemy on equal
terms. He realizes that the hotel keepers son with all his knowledge of
horses came better equipped for the army than for himself. Through the
disillusionment of Sergius, Shaw succeeds in dispelling the common
notions of the heroics of war.
Raina: Our relationship constitutes a very beautiful and sublime
part of my life. I think you can understand my feelings.
The chief vitality of the plays of Bernard Shaw lies in their invariably
didactic intent and tone. His plays present ideas and project the authors
attitude towards it. when this play was first presented on the London
stage , Shaw was accused of making fun of the Army, because in those days
the Army , even though it had lost some of its importance as a weapon of
national defence,had still some glamour about it. Kipling was singing the
praise of the officer and the gentleman. The lasting appeal of this
pleasant comedy can be traced to the fact that in a word more bitterly
conscious of the miseries of war than the Europe of the 1890s, it gives food
for thought on a subject of immediate and urgent importance.
Shaw himself once said, I write plays with the deliberate object of
converting the nation to my opinions, hence we see him tackling, in his
plays, a large variety of themes, bringing them, and adding to the wisdom
and gaiety of the world. There are few things in human life, from eating
to love making, on which Shaw has not something both sensible and witty
to say. Arms and the Man is not an exception to it. The greatest shock to
Rainas romantic ideals comes when Bluntschli describes Sergiuss cavalry
charge. He derides him most devastatingly. He ridicules him, likening him
to Don Quixote against the windmill and says that he looked like a foolish
drum-major, who should have been court-martialled for his folly.
Bluntschli knows out and out the reality and futility of war, and as such
save your skin is the policy which he follows most unhesitatingly; he
declares that all the soldiers are afraid to die, and that soldiers are born
fools. Shaw has criticized the days when the officer and the gentleman
was a respected figure in English society and when Kipling had glorified
the noble art of fighting. It was into such any atmosphere that Shaw, with
his characteristic ruthlessness, introduced Bluntschli. Through this Swiss
officer, Shaw presented soldiers pretty much as soldiers appeared to
themselves and to one another.
The Swiss soldier attributes the Bulgarian victory to sheer ignorance of the
art of war. First, he criticizes the cavalry charge, which decided the day. It
is unprofessional a rash act and quite unthinkable. Raina wants to hear
the details of the cavalry charge, but of Bluntschli a realist, makes fun of
Rainas her a handsome fellow, shouting his war-cry, and fighting like
Don Quixote at the windmill. Later, it was learnt that the Serbs had the
wrong ammunition sent the portrait of hero, and tells him that she is
bethroned to him. He apologises to her. Yet he insists on calling him Don
Quixote and laughs. Then he gives out the truth that perhaps the
gentleman got wind of the enemies being without the right cartridge and
ran no risk in charging so rashly. Raina is annoyed to see that her hero is
figured out as a pretender and coward .Thus Shaw has treated both the
themes (Love and War) unconventionally in his play Arms and the Man.
He has successfully managed to keep them knitted with the same yarn by
treating both in the same manner. Both Love and War had been highly
romanticized by the Victorians and pre-Victorians, bit Shaw has brought
the reality of the two on earth and has proved that having ideals about
them bring nothing except disillusionment. Chesterton has rightly
remarked that The world does not encourage a quiet rational lover,
simply because a perfectly rational lover would never get married. The
world does not encourage a perfectly rational army, because a perfectly
rational army would run away.Now all these coincidences provide the
backbone to the play and are obviously contrived by the dramatist to serve
his purpose. Coincidences do happen in our real life also but they seldom
happen in such a close succession as in Arms and the Man.
I observe a famine at sea- I observe the sailors casting lots
who shall be killd, to preserve the lives of the rest;
Shaw has written this play with the object of exposing the idle romantic
notions held by people regarding war and love. He had created Bluntschli
to serve as his spokesman and to express his realistic and commonsense
points of view to put through his satire on romantic idealism about war
and love. And Bluntschli admirably serves the purpose-we hear him give
outspoken expression to the dramatists favourite ideas and opinions. Shaw
generally represents the person who derides convention and walks the path
chalked out by his own individuality as right and sensible. Here it is
Bluntschli who opposes traditional notions and bluntly expresses the
practical point of view of all romantic and fanciful illusions. Bluntschli is
a typical Shavian hero.
Bernard Shaw is a playwright who writes to sell his ideas, and like most
propagandists, he is a little impatient to make his point. The effectiveness,
with which Bluntschli conveys Shaws ideas on war, is remarkable indeed.
His categorization of soldiers into young and old is very succinct. The
immature young ones are rash and enthusiastic, whereas the old
experienced ones are skeptical and reluctant; the former carry
ammunition, while latter prefer grub on the battlefield. Here Shaw is
overdoing a little, but deliberately so in order to hold up to ridicule the
whole business of fighting. Bluntschli shocks Raina by eating like a child.
He showed that soldiers were afraid; that they would carry with them to
the field chocolates rather than bullets; that, other things being equal,
they preferred life to death; and that they were bound to be sleepy after
fighting for three days on end. We are told that what caused great
indignation in 1890s against the play was the confectionery, the way in
which a soldier was shown gobbling up cream chocolates which were then
the ammunition for armour rather than arms .
Another God whom Shaw has attacked fiercely here is the romantic lover,
the bold hero enveloped with a poetic halo in the popular imagination. It
was a part of Shaws deliberate crusade against all empty Victorian idols.
Here, he not only reveals their hollowness of romantic love, but presents a
matter-of fact practical attitude towards marriage. Nothing could
express it as forcibly as Sergiuss preference for the maid and Rainas for
the unromantic hotelkeepers son.
Shaw was a professed social reformer, and satire was the weapon he used to
convert the nation to his own point of view. In play after play, he lashes
out at the social evils prevalent in the society. In Arms and the Man he has
satirized the romantic ideals of love and war, soldering and social
Raina, in particular lives in a dreamland. She talks of the higher love
which nothing can defile. Sergius, more than fully, reciprocates is his
queen and he has gone through the war like a knight in a tournament
with his lady looking at him. And yet all their love is superficial. It is more
of a show than a reality. Hot on the heels of his professing higher love for
Raina, Sergiuss gaze is caught by the poor but attractive maid, Louka. It
comes as a shock to the readers to find this apostle of higher love, most
unceremoniously, making advances to Louka. He confesses before Louka
that higher love is a very fatiguing thing. She makes a thorough idiot
of him, making him dance to her tunes and all his declarations of
higher love for Raina prove to be deceptive.
The love between Raina and Sergius is generated by external charm and
by the family and position of the beloved. Such a love is based on old
fashioned notions of romance and chivalry and is bred by the readings of
poetry of Byron and Pushkin and visits to the opera. Shaw has delineated
the psychological changes in a very correct manner. His psychology moves
from sentimentalism to realism. This is in fact, the key to his dramatic
psychology. Thus we see that in Arms and the Man Shaw exposes the fallacy
of the romantic conception of war and love, thereby scandalizing the
comfortably compromised Victorian public. He also lets us see the
absurdity of class-consciousness. He does overstate the case but only in
order that we may be provoked to thinking about the problem from the
rational point of view.
The most impressive and engaging character in Arms and the Man is
Bluntschli, who makes a dramatic enter into it, who dominates it
throughout and who carrries it to a happy ending. He is the most
important character, not because he is theatrical as well as the real hero
of the play, but because through him Shaw expresses his own ideas and
opinions-he is his mouthpiece, his spokesman. He is created to show to the
reader that in the world of today in which peoples ideas and ideals,
viewpoints and attitudes, of life in general and to war in particular, are
mostly confused, there are some persons like Bluntschli who can keep the
balance, who can view and think without prejudice, even in the midst of
thousands of conventions.
Raina (grasping her arm). Do not mamma: the wretched darling is
totally exhausted. Allow him to sleep.
Bluntschli is introduced to us as a fugitive running away from his
pursuers, and trying to save himself by climbing up a drainpipe and
entering a young ladys chamber. Shaw has not presented a hero devoid
of all faults and defects. Instead, he has portrayed a man who has
remarkable qualities of head and heart but also has the weakness of
human beings.
In Victorian society, marriage was supposed to be the sacred act between
two people of same status with higher spiritual values but when Raina
marries Bluntschli and Sergius with Louka, Shaw proved that marriage is
a licentious evil and is done for economic gains, eg. Louka and Raina
both see the economic gains, e.g. Louka and Raina both see the economic
gains in selecting their partners so marriage too is a target of satire in
Arms and the Man. At times Bluntschli might appear to be rude and rough
but he is polite and civilized, when Raina offers him her hand, he looks
dubiously at his own and says, Better not touch my hand, dear young
lady, I must have a wash first. Inspite of this, when Raina offers her hand
as a token of safety, he kisses it with hands behind his back. Not only this,
when the Russian officers, brought in by Rainas mother, are about to
enter Rainas room, Bluntschli prepares himself to fight and gives Raina
her cloak. He could easily have kept it, thereby preventing Raina from
opening the door, but his civilized upbringing doesnot allow this. It may,
however, be added here that Bluntschli knows full well that even if Raina
doesnot open the door he is not safe because then Russians will break the
door and kill him. Again when all is safe and clear, he asks Raina to
inform her mother of his presence, because, says he, I hid better not stay
here secretly any longer than is necessary.
Bluntschli [promptly]: I came sneaking back here to have another look
at the young lady when any other man of my age would have sent the coat
In the play, Shaw describes him as a man of about 35he is of a
middling stature and undistinguished appearance with strong neck and
shoulders, roundish obstinate looking head covered with short crisp
bronze curls, clear quick eyes and good brows and mouth; hopelessly
prosaic nose like that of a young minded baby, trim soldier like carriage
and energetic manner, and with all his, wits about him
A hint of his shrewdness is dropped by Major Sergius in the Second Act of
the play while mentioning the exchange of prisoners. He humbugged Major
Petkoff and Sergius into giving him fifty able bodied men for two hundred
worn-out chargers. They were not even eatable. His apparent listlessness
covers his sense of humour and shrewdness. He has deep insight into
human character and is a prudent soldier. He knows perfectly well that
nine soldiers out of ten are born fools, but he himself does not belong to
that category. When Raina tries to hide him from Bulgarians, he tells her
that she can do so if she keeps her head because he knows perfectly well
that nine soldiers out of ten are born fools. The Russian officer comes in;
he just looks in the balcony and goes out thanking Raina. He doesnot care
to search the room or look behind the curtain. Bluntschlis judgment turns
out to be correct and the Russian officer is proved to be a fool.
Bluntschli has a wonderful sense of humour. He laughs at romanticism,
but he does so in a very subtle manner. His talk with Raina and Sergius
sparkles with touches of his humour. The way he tries to pronounce Petkoff
also shows his sense of humour. His caricaturing of Sergius as Don Quixote
is another example of his humour. Infact, he attracts us by his liveliness
and his exuberance. From the moment he enters the scene, the mood is
transformed and we watch for the unexpected and the original in word
and deed. His exuberance is irrepressible, and nothing can prevent his
bubbling forth continuously.
He is not fickle-minded and unbalanced like Sergius who is completely a
different man at different times. Though Raina worships Sergius like a
priestess, Bluntcshli succeeds in winning her. He offers her his hand not as
the King of Switzerland but merely as a chocolate cream soldier, but he is
sincere..when he is alone with Raina in her bedroom he asks her to inform
her mother of his presence; like a real man, he does not take the
opportunity to flirt but Sergius does. He never lives like Sergius , in a fools
paradise or in a dreamland. Moreover he never entertains high opinions
about himself, he judges everything right at its face. He is a very practical
and balanced man.
Bluntschli himself tells Raina, I am a Swiss fighting merely as a
professional soldier. I joined the Serbs because they came first on the road
from Switzerland. According to him, it is the duty of every soldiered to
live as long as is possible instead of being killed in the battlefield even
when there is a chance to escape. Not only this, he judges everything
according to strict military rules. A cavalry charge for him is like
slinging a handful of peas against him, and then all the rest in a lump.
He does not speak in high terms about it and about Sergius. He tells
Raina. This account offends Raina. Bluntschli in despair tells her, Its no
use dear lady; I cant make-you see it from the professional point of view.
Moreover he takes war as mere art and the cavalry charge appears to him
as something very unprofessional. He can also distinguish between the old
soldiers and the young ones. This shows that he is really a very experienced
soldier and knows all the tactics of war. Once more he gives an example of
his experience. You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his
holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry pistols and cartridges;
the old ones grub.
Raina Petkoff is the heroine of the play as Bluntschli is the hero of the play.
Hence both of them stand head and shoulders above other characters of
the play. She has extraordinary physical charms; her intelligence is also
extraordinary; her attitude towards life is quite abnormal- her whole
make up is attractive and beautiful. Shaw presents her as typical of the
upper middle class in its philistinism and ridiculous ineptitude. She is the
type also of general humanity that clings, in spite of common sense, to
romantic notions regarding life and things.
Catherine [severely]: My daughter, sir, is accustomed to a first-rate stable.
Raina : Stop,mother, you are making me laughable.
Sergius too maintains a kind of higher love with Raina, but in reality, as
a human being he cannot neglect his natural sex-instinct and starts
flirting with Louka, a maid-servant although his sense of higher love and
romantic heroism abuse him consciously. At last he gets fed up with his
Byronism and adopts a matter-of-fact attitude and marries Louka. Here
again we find the conversation of Romanticism into Realism.
Bluntschli: If you were twenty-three when you said those things to me this
afternoon, I shall take them seriously.
When we first meet Raina, we see that she is a brooding romantic girl
contemplating the distant view of the Balkan hills, but she seems to possess
a strong common sense; from the beginning there is a doubt in her mind
whether the heroic ideals, which she cherishes in her heart, for her fianc,
are after all true. Her mother, who comes running in to infirm her of
Sergiuss splendid cavalry charge which decided the day for the
Bulgarians, dispels all her doubt. She blames, now, herself for entertaining
the doubts. It appears that Rainas romantic idealism is buttressed up
affair; it needs to be stimulated and reinforced.
Raina lives in the realm of romantic idealism, far from the world of grim
reality. She looks upon Sergius with a view of the knights of ancient days of
chivalry come to life again. This view of hers has been created and
pampered by the romantic dreams of life gathered from Byron, Pushkin,
and from the several operas she has witnessed she takes his portrait in her
hands and elevates it like a priestess. When she meets him after his return
from the front, she most romantically calls him, My hero, my king, but it
is a sceptic attitude...there is a good deal of doubt in it. She keeps on
watching Sergius and he does betray her. So their higher love turns to
Captain Bluntschli is a man of remarkable qualities; but he is not an
ideal hero devoid of all faults. Rather he is a character very much true to
life. He exhibits the sense of humour with brutal frankness. He is in fact the
mouthpiece of Shaw. The rare gift of irony enables him to see through all
kinds of dealings. He is not led by blind love or unfaithful emotions. He is
a true lover. In short, he is a cool and I, partial man, susceptible to the
charms of beauty and youth. He is a shrewd judge of character. His
sincerity of purpose is admirable and his sense of duty praiseworthy. In
fact, he is the most loving and living character of the play.
Raina poses to be an idealist too. She idealises the world as really a
glorious world for women who can see its glory and men who can act its
romance. In a solemn tone she tells Sergius,I think we two have found
the higher love. she wants to make Bluntschli realise that her relation
to him (Sergius) is the only really beautiful and noble part of her life. She
often strikes a noble attitude, speaks in a thrilling voice and looks like a
great idealist. Her father wonders and admires her, her lover is kept spell-
bound, but empty vessels make more noise..she cheats Sergius and Sergius
betrays her, so two apostles of higher love, two idealists, prove what they
are in reality. It is a hoax, an empty show.
Petkoff [with childish awe]:Are you Emperor of Switzerland?
Bluntschli: My rank is the highest known in Switzerland: I am a free
Like her parents, Raina is a snob. She is proud of her familys social status
and riches. Very proudly she tells Bluntschli that her father is a Major,
that her family has a library, the only one in Bulgaria and that people
of her position wash their hands nearly everyday. When Louka, says My
love was at stake, she taunts as if it were ridiculous for a maid-servant to
have a lover. And destiny snatches her own King and puts him in the lap
of the same maid servant.
Sergius: The glimpses I have had of the seamy side of life during the last
few months have made me cynical;but I should not have brought my
cynicism here:least of all into your presence, Raina.
There is always a clash between Rains perception of reality and her
romantic illusion. Sometimes she seems to be in despair whether she can be
true to her romantic ideals, e.g. when Bluntschli tells her about Sergius
and calls him a fool..which shows that, to keep her confidence she needs
continuous pampering because the moment she gets the news of the
splendid cavalry charge led by Sergius, her faith is revived.
Louka calls Raina a liar and a cheat and Bluntschli openly pointed
out her lies and pretentions. Raina, however, deliberately deludes others.
When she is caught by Bluntschli in her imposture, in the last Act of the
play, she at first tries to register indignation, but finding Bluntschli
unimpressed, she admits the truth about her noble attitude and
thrilling voice. The way in which Raina readily transfers her affection
from Sergius to Bluntschli is strange and may lead one to doubt
reasonably the very depth of her devotion.
Raina is bold and intelligent. She does not get nervous when a stranger
enters her room with a ready revolver. She had no idea that there was no
cartridge in the revolver. She had no idea that there was no cartridge in
the revolver. She does not get upset when the Russian officer comes to
search her room, she did her job before the officer smartly and
intelligently and makes a fool of him. She offers Bluntschki her hand twice
for security. She even gives the old coat of her father to him while leaving
because the weather was cold. Again very boldly she puts her photograph
in the pocket of the coat and when her father wears it when it is brought
back; cleverly she takes out the photograph. William Archer has accurately
observed her as a deliberate humbug, without a single genuine or even
self-deluding emotion in her bloodless frame. A dramatist must keep his
action moving and his characters coming and going. Usually he tries to
make their entrances and exits unobtrusive; they must leave the stage or
enter on it naturally, not as though on an obvious cue.
Although Raina is a coquette, Shaw has not made her a fiendish figure.
She feels for wretched fugitives and feelingly questions: what glory is there
in killing wretched fugitives? she saves Bluntschli at a great personal risk
and she has no motive behind this act. Raina Petkoff, with a contradictory
and complex character, enchants the readers of the play from beginning
to end. As the plot develops, her personality also develops rapidly. She is not
the all perfect Victorian heroine, rather with all her follies and illusions
she appears to be more human and real.
Sergius: I won the battle the wrong way when our worthy Russian
generals were losing it the right way. In short, I upset their plans, and
wounded their self-esteem. Two Cossack colonels had their regiments
routed on the most correct principles of scientific warfare. Two major
generals got killed strictly according to military etiquette. The two
colonels are now major-generals, and I am still a simple major.
Bluntschlis personality affects not merely her notions about war, it breaks
all her illusions of higher love too. She feels attracted by the plain-spoken
Swiss, with a gleam of mischief in his eyes and a practical attitude
towards everything. When he comes back, his influence becomes stronger.
He alone has the frank courage to tell her that when she strikes a noble
attitude and speaks in a thrilling voice, he is led to admire her, but not to
believe one word of what she says. Her protest against this is half-hearted,
even though she manages to act as if she were shocked.
Her conception of higher love collapse completely when she sees Sergius
making advances to Louka and finds her hero really attracted towards a
maid. All her rosy visions fade away, and she is ready to face life as it is.
And when, finally she accepts the offer of marriage from Bluntschli, she is
absolutely cured of all the delusions she has entertained about life.
She runs to the dressing table, blows out the light there, and hurries back
to bed in the dark
Shaw describes Sergius in Arms and the Man as a tall, romantically
handsome man, with the physical manhood, the high spirit, and the
susceptible imagination of an untamed mountaineer chieftain. But of, his
remarkable personal distinction is of a characteristically civilized type.
The ridges of his eyebrows, curving with an interrogative twist round the
projections at the outer corners; his jealousy observant eye; his nose, thin,
keen and apprehensive in spite of the pugnacious high brigade and large
nostril; his assertive chin, would not be out of place in a Parision salon,
shewing that the clever imagination barbarian has an acute critical
faculty which has been thrown into intense activity by the arrival of
western civilization in the Balkans He is what may be called a Byronic
hero and his personal appearance shows clearly that he is in love with
Byronic romanticism.
Both are proud, beautiful and spirited, but of status wise, they belong to
two different stations of life, Raina has learnt her behavior from the
sophisticated society of Vienna and her ideas of life from operas but Louka
came there as a simple country maid with unpolished habits and
behavior, but she was tutored in the ways of civilized behavior by Nicola
who has plans to marry her. Under his eyes she has learned to be neat and
clean and behave daintily.
Life is for one generation; a good name is forever
The technical novelty of Arms and the Man lies in the extensive use of
bathos or anti-climax. Both Raina and Sergius romantic fools- talk of
higher love keep boring the audiences for a long time. Sergiuss love for
Louka is based on passion. Initially his aim is to flirt with her but
manipulating Louka weaves a web around him. She makes him realize
that a man must have a womans heart as well as convinced that he would
do much better with her and openly accepts her. This is nothing but the
conquest of passion and reality over romanticism. He tries to cheat both
Raina and Louka but ultimately he surrenders before reality.
Rainas outlook is one of satisfaction with her material lot, Louka is
ambitious and ever anxious to improve her social position. Both are ruled
by the illusions of life though their illusions are different. Raina has the
romantic views of war and love, Louka has the romantic notions about the
power of her defiance and revolutionary spirit, but her illusions do not
make her sentimental like Raina. She has no idea about romantic love.
She loves but hers a plain, practical love with the sole aim of marriage.
Bluntschli [before he can speak]:Itsno use. He never apologizes.
Louka: Not to you, his equal and his enemy. To me, his poor servant, he will
not refuse to apologize.
Sergius[approvingly]: you are right. [he bends his knee in his grandest
manner] Forgive me.
Sergius is a wild rebel-rebel both as a soldier and as a lover, though his
revolt is made cruelly ridiculous by contrast with the matter-of-fact, plain
Bluntschli. He has the courage to point out the hollow sham of war and
tender his resignation from this mean business. For, whereas Bluntschli
wisely caricatures the attractiveness of war, Sergius boldly denounces the
very method with which a war is fought. As a lover, Sergius is not a bit
coward. He faces the reality of his love courageously and is not afraid of
the opinion of his class in the matter of his decision to marry Louka-If I
choose to love you, I dare marry you, in spite of all Bulgaria.
Shaw had kept himself engaged in a continuous struggle with critics and
the public. There are two chief grounds for this struggle- A revolt against
the life of the stage, its artificiality, unnaturalistic and hopelessly
sentimental standard and a resolute effort to make the reading and
theatre-going public accept him as a stark realist.
Raina: [pretending to sulk]: The lady says that he can keep his
tablecloths and his omnibuses. I am not here to be sold to the highest
bidder. [She turns her back on him].
Sergius has absolute faith in his concepts and despises the world because it
disregards them; this makes him a constant prey to petty disillusion, with
the result that he has acquired the half-ironic air, the mysterious
moodiness, the suggestion of a strange and terrible history that has left
nothing but undying remorse. Sergius has always a pose, and sometimes it
makes him ridiculous, but he seems to be hardly conscious of it. When he
says that he never apologises or he is never sorry, he makes himself
ridiculous, but at last he recognizes Bluntschlis superiority and bows to it.
Action is said to be the very core of drama and characters acquire their
significance from the action and in turn action revealed characters by
bringing them into clash with one another and dialogue is the
instrument used by the characters for some action. Shaw, in this play, is
not unobtrusive. He leaves the characters he desires on stage, but dismisses
the others in an unnatural manner. We must never forget that the focal
interest is in the dialogue, not in the action, so the free movement of the
characters is essential. We should not then be exceptionally surprised when
Shaw dismisses his superfluous characters in all arbitrary fashion. Our
senses may be jarred, but we have to accept the situations. Bathos is a
device used by the dramatist to create ridiculous effects. In this device, the
action, instead of moving upwards towards a climax, moves downwards
towards anti-climax.
Bluntschli and Louka know that higher love is not real- it is farce, it is
the love at the earthly and physical level that is worth enjoying. The anti-
climax lies in the fact that Bluntschli and Louka do not soar to the
romantic heights of Sergius and Raina; instead Sergius and Raina come
down to the level of Louka and Bluntschli. Chesterton has rightly written,
Arms and the Man is a play which is built not on pathos but on bathos.
Raina: I thought you might have remembered the great scene where
Ernani, flying from his foes just as you are tonight, takes refuge in the
castle of his bitterest enemy, an old Castilian noble. The noble refuses to
give him up. His guest is sacred to him.
A.C. ward is right to some extent when he writes, Shaw as a playwright, as
a dramatic artist was not a realist. But of, as far as his ideas are
concerned he is original and real. It is only in the presentation of his
characters and action that he is using each as a tool to solve his problem
only and produce humour.
Shaw has revived a type of drama in which the action consists almost
exclusively of a valuable discussion of the mental revolutions and spiritual
conversion which takes place in the minds of characters and changes even
their souls. Down to the time of Ibsens A Dolls House, standard
commercial plays consisted of an exposition in the First Act, a situation in
the Second and a sort of tidying up and bowing the audience out in the
Bluntschli (in his driest military manner): I am at Madams orders.
Thus, when Shaw sends Raina indoors to fetch her hat, we know that
Louka and Sergius must be left together; Sergius and Bluntschli are to be
alone, so that Sergius can suggest a duel; Louka finds the door left open
for her, and makes an exit. Nicolas exit also should be watched for its
obviousness, Rainas entrances are always well timed; they, however, are
permissible because we know that Raina has a highly dramatic character.
Shaws basic unit of construction is a short scene, usually consisting of an
exchange of ideas or opinions between a few chararacters. Shaws plots
donot flow forward in a single uninterrupted line. Instead short scene
follows short scene rapidly, with each scene there is a change in the persons
on stage. Characters and topics often drop out of sight for long periods of
time until Shaw is ready to take them up again. This style of construction
allows Shaw to develop several stories (Bluntschli- Raina; Raina-Sergius;
Sergius-Louka, Louka-Nicola) during an act and, by emphasizing
personal relations and discussion; it allows him to show the effect of ideas
and opinions on behaviour.
Sergius being provided by Louka, addresses Captain Bluntschli gravely,
and charges him with being his rival and having deceived him. He
challenges Bluntschli to meet him in the parade ground on Klissoura
Road, alone on horseback with his sword. It proves Sergiuss stupidity and
the effect of Byron on him that in an age of pistols he is talking about
swords. Bluntschli says that if he goes, he shall take a machine gun and
not a sword, and this time there will be no mistake agrees with him as he
had often acted as sword instructor. Sergius offers to lend him his best
horse but Bluntschli says he would prefer to fight on foot, for he does not
want to kill Sergius if he could help it.
Psychologically, Sergius seems to be a complex character. One does not
know what he will do and when. His ideas and actions are not
reconcilable; on the one hand he tells Louka that a gentleman never
discusses his lady with her maid but, on the other hand, when she tells
him about Rainas attraction towards the fugitive, he, a gentleman,
makes love with a maid at his ladys back. He is a living anomaly.
Bluntschli: Shot in the hip in a woodyard. Couldnt drag himself out.
Your fellows shells set the timber on fire and burnt him, with half a dozen
other poor devils in the same predicament.
Raina: How horrible
Shaws characteristics are different from typical Victorian characteristics.
They are not saying what they were supposed to in the royal manner but
they are saying what they want to in their own simple vocabulary. They
express their ideas not seriously but comically. So they are able to hold the
attention. Other characteristics of Shaws dramatic style include the use of
coincidence, anticlimax, quick transitions in a characters behaviour, the
construction of plot around much short characters behaviour, the
construction of plot around many short scenes, and the use of dialogue,
instead of action, to advance the plot.
The thunder-clouds close oer it, which when rent
The earth is covered thick with other clay
Which her own clay shall cover, heaped and pent,
Rider and horse,-friend, foe,-in one red burial blent!
Sergius, in the beginning, is not merely a romantic soldier but he is also
the apostle of higher love, but his ideas of love are as romantic and
fanciful as his ideas of war. He is engaged to a lady of his class and
professes to have higher love for her. He considers himself her worshipper,
ready to die in her service. He calls her My Queen in Byronic manner,
but all the time he is assailed by the doubt whether all this is not just a
pose, an attitude assumed for a dubious self-satisfaction. He also realizes
that it is difficult to keep up the attitude for any length of time. He too
goes through a process of disillusionment like Raina. The weakness of his
old character, as he perceives, leads him to the temptation of making love
to Louka. About higher love he says, Its very fatiguing thing to keep up
for any length of time. Although while making love to Louka he
says,What would Sergius, the apostle of higher love, say if he saw me now?
but he finds consolation in the news that Raina too has a lover.
He has something of a cynic as well as an egoist in him. His own power of
introspection makes him realize that he is a bundle of contradictions. He
tells Louka that he is half-a-dozen Sergiuses in one. He is not able to judge
the real Sergius in the midst of this muddle, at least not before the end.
Shaw is a rebel to tradition. He has written plays not for the purpose of self-
expression, but for the purpose of propaganda, he converts the stage into a
forum. As his plays are of ideas, dialogues become more important element
in his play than either character or action. .
Sergius is an interesting character, a good subject for an analytical study.
Shaw once said that his character was an attempt at a comic Hamlet.
Certainly there is something similar between the gloomy prince of
Denmark who suffers from his inability to do his duty as he sees it, and the
romantic Bulgarian hero who is tormented by the difficulty of
accommodating his idealistic notion to the stern realities of life, but it is
really comic to place Sergius against Hamlet. Sergius was created to be the
hero of the play, but he is degraded to the position of a villain with a
second rank.
Sergius: And how ridiculous! Oh, war! War! The dream of patriots and
heroe! A fraud, Bluntschli. A hollow sham, like love.
As Louka is a foil to Raina, Sergius is a foil to Bluntschli. He acts as a
background to Bluntschli and highlights his realism. And other practical
qualities. This rebel is made a fool of by the all conquering chocolate-
cream soldier. And in his last exclamation What a man! Is he a man!is
echoed the envious admiration of a disappointed soul. The rebel in Sergius
is silenced by the realist in Bluntschli. The hero in Sergius is silenced by
the realist in Bluntschli. The hero in Sergius is beaten both in courtship
and soldier ship. Eclipsed by Bluntschlis intelligence and promptitude,
Sergius is only left to stand and stare with a defeatist mentality. Sergius is
not comical. His failure is essentially tragic, though the tragedy of his lot
is deftly turned into an amusing sport by the comic element of the play.
Shaws characters may be somewhat unnatural in their eloquence but they
are not wooden beings. The distinct individuality of each character is
present all through the play. There is no confusion between Raina and
Louka; both are distinct. Similarly both Sergius and Bluntschlis words in
Sergiuss mouth or Sergiuss actions in Bluntschli cannot be shown.
Although Petkoff and Catherine are Shaws caricatures but even they are
not without soul. With all their semi-barbaric notions, their idiotic
extravagances, they remain quite interesting figures on the stage. And all
his characters are not mere abstract ideas; they are attractive and alive
on the stage.
Sergius is arrogant but his condition is miserable now when he finds
himself to be at fault. He is asked to apologise by Bliuntschli but he replies
I never apologise. Raina complains to Bluntschli about Sergius for
spreading this horrible story about her. Bluntschli assures her that he is
dead-burnt alive. Serius, when he hears the account of his death of being
set fire to, cries out against war. He says-war is a fraud, a hollow sham,
like love. Raina protests against his latter remark. But of, Sergius is not
willing to believe that Bluntschli has come back and has no interest in
Raina. He tells Raina that Louka had given him all this information and
Raina discovers his baseness. She discovers that very morning he was with
her maid all the time. She confesses that she looked out of the window as
she went upstairs, and at that moment did not understand what was
Louka:Did you find in the charge that the men whose fathers are poor
like mine were any less brave than the men who are rich like you?
Sergius:Youve no magnetism: youre not a man: youre a machine.
Some of Loukas actions may be called mean. She does not treat everybody
at his or her level. She tries to blacken the character of Raina in the eyes of
Sergius by telling him that Raina makes love to Bluntschli at his back. She
does not talk decently about the Petkoff family. When Nicola advises her to
be respectful to the family, she replies, I know some family secrets, they
would not care to have told, young as I am, let them quarrel with me if
they dare. This maid is always ready to blackmail someone. She has the
habit of eavesdropping. This she does out of curiosity, but ultimately it pays
her. When she is caught red-handed, eavesdropping, she defends, My love
was at stake. I am not ashamed. She is a scheming woman-she makes a
calculated play for Sergius, correctly guessing Rainas changed feelings.
She is sharp-tongued, sharp-witted and far-sighted. Sergius rightly calls
her, a provoking little Witch.
After all, in this play, character and action are of minor importance and
ideas are all in all. It is doubtful whether a thesis play can have any
recognized technique. Yet Shaws plays are quite good for the stage, they
are not merely academic exercises.
Sergius is an unprofessional, enthusiastic and inexperienced soldier. The
fact becomes obvious from the cavalry charge which he leads on the enemy
equipped with machine guns. His cavalry would have been destroyed
mercilessly by the enemy if at all they had the ammunition. He had won
the battle just as a mere chance.
Bluntschli: I wont take that answer. I appealed to you as a fugitive, a
beggar, and a starving man. You accepted me. You gave me your hand to
kiss, your bed to sleep in, and your roof to shelter me.
Sergius sees romance everywhere, even in war. War is full of military glory
for him and he never bothers to look at its terrible consequences. The
victory swells him with pride and joy but when he is not promoted, he feels
completely dejected and resigns his job, so like Raina he needs continuous
pampering to keep his faith in his own illusions. He does not have that
power in himself; Sergius calls soldering the cowards act of attacking
mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of harms way when you
are a weak. That is the whole secret of successful fighting. Get your name at
a disadvantage, and never, on any account, fight him on equal terms.
This is his estimate of war and soldering. He is rightly called Don Quixote
at windmills by Bluntschli. He is new to the trade of war. He appears
merely as a theorist devoid of practical sense.
Louka is quite realistic and practical in her attitude towards life. She has
no illusions about rank, position, gentility, etc. all the affected airs are
blown out of Sergius by the breath of her sharp wit and sharp tongue. She
uses the secrets and situations to her own benefit. She uses Rainas jealous
in winning over Sergius. She does not hesitate to play upon Sergiuss vanity
and finally envy and secures him for herself.
When Raina impulsively addresses Bluntschli as the chocolate cream
soldier, and Catherine tries to save the situation by concocting a story
about Nicola dropping the plates over a soldiers figure in cream
chocolate made by Raina, he gets suspicious. He doubts Rainas suddenly
developed culinary interest and Nicolas carelessness.
The Man [with grim good humor]: All of them, dear lady, all of them,
believe me. It is our duty to live as long as we can. Now, if you raise an
Although Major Petkoff is a ridiculous character but he is not
insignificant as far as his place in the entire play is concerned. The coat
episode ,which helps the plot to develop further, moves around him too
and it is to clear his doubts that Bluntschli discloses everything and thus
paves the way for his own marriage with Raina. He also points out the
foolishness of Sergius and his views and snobbery affect the heroine of the
play who too is a snob. So we just cannot avoid this character. Apart from
that, he adds to the humour of the play.
Bluntschli: But now that youve found that life isnt a farce, but
something quite sensible and serious, what further obstacle is there to your
Catherine is a formidable housewife. It is fairly obvious that she rules the
home. She is a successful wife. She not only keeps her husband happy but
she also keeps her servants under control. She runs the home smoothly and
efficiently. The Major, once his routine wants are looked after, is ready to
leave everything entirely in her hands. She contemplates her husband with
a little amusement, putting up with his weakness that at times borders on
the childish. Louka, though insolent, fears Catherine and never behaves
towards her as she does towards Raina. Major Petkoff is worldly minded.
When Bluntschli proposes for Rainas hand, he demurs at first, because
Bluntschli appears to him to be only a soldier of fortune, possessing
nothing of his own. But of, his fathers heart is soon satisfied when
Bluntschli enumerates in detail all that he possesses. His pride is not hurt
at all, therefore, when Raina, instead of marrying Sergius, a man of his
own set, bestows her choice on Bluntschli.
Petkoff: No longer the enemy, happily. [Rather anxiously] I hope youve
called as a friend, and not about horses or prisoners.
Although Major Petkoff has been presented as a simpleton, yet there is a
spark of intelligence in him. As soon as he comes home from the battlefield,
he tries to inquire about his old coat. He had heard the story of a Swiss
soldier being given shelter in a Bulgarian house and having been sent
away disguised in an old coat of the master of the house. Probably, he
wants to ascertain that the story did not occur in his own house. When
Catherine talks about Sergiuss promotion, Petkoff immediately points out
his foolish action on the battlefield and says that he does not deserve it.
This shows that he knows which man should be given which status.
Catherine Petkoff is the wife of Major Petkoff and mother of Raina. She is
the true representative of Balkan society, anxious to raise itself from
barbarism to civilization. Shaw has described her as:
Catherine Petkoff, a woman over forty, imperiously energetic, with
magnificient black hair and eyes, who might be a very splendid specimen
of the wife of a mountain farmer, but is determined to be a Viennese lady,
and to that end wears a fashionable tea gown on all occasions.
Catherine is keenly conscious of her aristocracy and also of her husbands
official and social position. That is why, the dramatist calls her a
specimen determined to be a Viennese. She apes western manners. Social
status and financial position are her chief considerations in deciding the
eligibility of a man for Raina. She accepts Bluntschli when she comes to
know that he satisfies both these qualities.
Raina: Well, it came into my head just as he was holding me in his arms
and looking into my eyes that perhaps we only had our heroic ideas
because we are so fond of reading Byron and Pushkin, and because we
were so delighted with the opera that season at Bucharest. Real life is so
seldom like that! Indeed never, as far as I knew it then.
But of, with Majors characteristic simplicity, he drops the matter. He is
again doubtful when he finds his missing coat replaced, but he attributes
it to the weakness of the age; when he puts on the coat, he finds it out that
it has been deformed and rightly says that it has been put on by somebody
else. This shows that he uses his brain. Raina manages to deceive him by
removing her portrait from the pocket of the coat while helping him on
with it, but he realizes that something is wrong somewhere; he is not
satisfied with the explanation given by Raina and backed by Catherine.
They also try their best to hide the fact about his old coat and the
photograph in its pocket that intrigues him very much. He does not drop
the topic until the truth is revealed by Bluntschli and the entire mystery
Raina: Allow me. [she sails away scornfully to the chest of drawers, and
returns with the box of confectionary in her hand.] I am sorry I have
eaten them all except these. [She offers him the box].
Catherine is very much concerned about her social status and the need to
live up to it. As a member of a rich reputed family she is conscious of her
superiority and is anxious to exhibit it. She is proud of having a library in
her house and flight of stairs. Her new acquisition is an electric bell, and
with that she feels she has reached the acme of civilized life. She washes her
face and neck daily not with a purpose of personal hygiene but to become
a modern woman. She is proud of her lineage which she terms historical,
even though it can be traced back to a mere twenty years. Like others of
her class, she is blissfully unaware of the comic effect of it all.
Major Petkoff is not a strict disciplinarian. He cannot plan out the
demobilization of the forces and seeks the help of Catherine and Sergius;
but even then the problem remains unsolved. When Bluntschli, superior to
them (as he is more practical and can take immediate decisions), asks
him to look to the proper sending of soldiers, he takes his wife along with
him saying that she would manage it better. This shows that he does not
have control over persons on whom he should have.
Petkoff: Oh, I shall be only too glad. Two hundred horses! Whew!
Louka says that Raina would prefer to marry Bluntschli. Agaist which
Bluntschli protests saying that the gracious young lady meant nothing; it
was just out of pity that she saved his life. He says that he is not even fit for
these last 15 years he had been wandering in barracks and battles. He says
he is very old for this school-girl of seventeen, he is thirty five..he cannot
believe that awoman who took the affair so seriously, could have sent him
this photograph with the inscription. All the mystery of the coat is made to
clear to Petykoff. Bluntschli poses to be satisfied that he has put everything
right, but Raina is annoyed that she has been taken as a school-girl of
seventeen and declares that she is a woman of twenty three. Raina
snatches her photograph from his hands, tears it up and throws the pieces
in his face. Sergius seems to enjoy his rivals discomfiture. Bluntschli
repeats Rainas age to himself and thinks over it. He makes up his mind to
propose her.
Raina [crunching on the bed]: Whos there? [The match is out instantly]
Whos there? Who is that?
A Mans Voice [in the darkness, subduedly but threatingly]: Sh-sh!
Catherine, in spite of all her skillful management of the household and
with all her commanding personality, does not possess common insight in
human character. Raina, Sergius, Louka behave differently at her back
but she never senses the fun or mischief behind any of their actions. She
behaves as a typical rich aristocratic foolish wife who claims education or
experience or culture.
Catherine intervenes politely and tells bluntschli her daughters position,
who is used to luxury and comfort. She says that Sergius keeps 20 horses,
Bluntschli grasps the papers in a blue envelope and declares that if Sergius
has got 20 horses, he has got 200 horses, Sergius has 3 carriages and he
has 70 . He has 4,000 table cloths, 9,600 pairs of sheets and blankets, 2,4oo
cider down quilts, 10,000 knives, forks and dessert spoons, 300 servants, 6
palatial establishments, 2 livery stables, a tea garden and a private house.
He has four medals for distinguished services, he has the rank of an officer
and the standing of a gentleman and he knows three languages.
Catherine now withdraws her objection and adds that she will not stand
in the way of her daughters happiness. Petkoff agrees to his wifes wish.
As a mother, Catherine is very fond of her daughter. She is very solicitous
about her health and happiness. That is why she wants her to be married
to a rich person. She is rather an over affectionate mother. Even when
Raina is impertinent towards her and does something which is not to her
liking, she puts up with it. When Raina gives shelter to Bluntschli against
the wishes of Catherine, she bears with it, rather she tries her best to keep it
a secret by telling many lies. Later when Raina gets so impertinent as to
say that Catherine should marry Sergius, if she thought so much of him,
Catherine simply bears it. She had able to keep her loyalty to Raina.
Catherines resourcefulness and presence of mind are seen on several
occasions. It is to her that Raina turns with a confidence on the eventful
night of the fugitives appearance. Again, when Bluntschli reappears, she
at once surmises that he has come to return the coat. She knows that his
presence can create trouble so she wants to get rid of him at the earliest.
She takes care that her husband does not learn of Bluntschlis coming and
so she gets the door of the library closed. When she learns that Petkoff has
come to know about Bluntschlis coming. She manages to save the
situation. Similarly, she tides over the chocolate cream incident with a
quick and ingenious explanation that satisfies her husband to some
extent. In the affair of the coat too, she acts smartly. She also prepares her
husband for Rainas marriage with Bluntschli by telling him of
Bluntschlis possessions.
The Man:Stairs! How grand! You live in great luxury indeed, dear young
Major Petkoff is a somewhat misunderstood character. He is neither a
simpleton nor very sharp. The secret of his character seems to be that he
does not give expression to his real self even before his wife or daughter or
friends but, he is a loving husband, a dutiful father and a generous
friend; he takes everything in the spirit of resignation and that is why he is
not discontented like Sergius or fussy like Catherine though Shaw meant
this character to be ridiculous; we shut the book with the feeling that he
is slightly stupid, whimsical, vain member of the Bulgarian nobility whose
main consideration is what others think of him, but he is not a
romanticist like his wife and daughter and, like them, he does not like
foolish modernism. He shows his practical attitude towards life by giving
permission to Bluntschli to marry his daughter even when she was
engaged to Sergius. He creates a good impression upon the readers by his
simplicity even while remaining in the background.
What would my wife be thinking of her man so strong and grown,
If she could see me sitting here, too weak to stand alone?
Could my mother have imagined, as she held me to her breast,
That Id be sitting here one day with this pain in my chest?
Bluntsclis return with Petkoffs coat makes the situation and the plot
complicated. Catherine, with her true womanly resourcefulness, smuggles
away the coat very cleverly and saves the situation. This is the minor
climax of the plot.
The fugitive expresses his views about soldiers and says there are only two
types of soldiers- old ones and young ones. He has served fourteen years.
The talk drifts somehow to the cavalry charge that decided the days
battle. The soldier describes the Bulgarian who led the cavalry as Don
Quixote. Who succeeded because Serbians did not have the right
ammunition. Raina finds her dream castle shattered. With apologies
Bluntschli still calls the man a fool who knowingly led his corps in the
mouth of death. Raina cannot forgive Bluntschli for talking about her
hero in such a manner. She suggests that he should go back the way he
came. He replies that he is too tired to do it and it is beyond him to get
down through the pipe. But of, when he braces himself up to it as
inevitable, she stops him out of pity. She feels like calling him her
chocolate cream soldier, he requests Raina to put out the candle so that
they shall not see the light when he opens the shutters. Raina drags him
back and begs him to accept her hospitality. She now tells him her name
and that her father is a Major in the Bulgarian Army. She also tells that
theirs is the only private house that has two rows of windows and a flight
of stairs inside.
The Man [dreamily lulled by her voice]: No: capture only means death;
and death is sleep: oh, sleep, sleep, sleep, undisturbed sleep! Climbing down
the pipe means doing something-exerting myself- thinking! Death ten
times over first.
Realism is a much misused and confused term. Fortunately Shaw himself
has explained (Quintessence of Ibsenissm, Ch. II) what he means by
realism. Man, as he progresses from barbarism to civilization, adopts
certain institutions which are neither perfect nor divine., but as time
passes and these institutions are handed on from generation to
generation, people come to believe that they are of supernatural origin
and are to be accepted and glorified as such. Those who do so, even when
they are convinced that they are not so from their own experience, are
idealists, in one sense of the term. In another, idealists are those who
imagine institutions as they ought to be, neither natural nor holy, they
are only human inventions which should not be allowed to outlast their
earthly utility. It is in this sense that Shaw is a thorough realist. Once he
declared that he was a specialist in social disease and he always probes
social sores without flinching.
Raina wants to impress upon him that he is in the house of civilized people
and not in that of the country folk who might see his Serbian uniform and
kill him. She pledges herself for his safety. The man refuses to take her
hand as he must have a wash first. Raina is pleased to tell that Bulgarians
of really good standing wash their hands daily. She offers her hand and
the man kisses it with his hands keeping on the back. Then he begs her to
inform her mother, for he would not like to stay there longer than was
Raina is scared when she sees the fugitive with a pistol in his hand, she
cannot shout for help. The fugitive throws his pistol on the divan and picks
up Rainas dressing gown. He tells her that if she shouted for help she will
have to receive the soldiers in her present half naked state. In the mean
time soldiers are heard knocking at the door of Petkoffs as they suspect the
entry of a fugitive in the room through a window. Louka, the maid
servant, knocks at Rainas door and asks her to get ready to receive the
soldiers. Bluntschli realizes that shell have to open the door; he returns
her gown so that she could receive the soldiers. He says that he is ready to
submit to the inevitable and fight with the soldiers who are coming to
search the room. He warns Raina to be cautious and to remain away from
the scene because his death is sure though he promises that he would fight
till his death.
The face of an old woman on the ground
Was marred with suffering, but she made no sound.
Silence was common to us all. I heard
No cries of anguish, or a single word.
Sergius and Petkoff recognize Bluntschli as their acquaintance and invite
him in the house. Again the situation becomes tense with Rainas entrance
when she shouts to Bluntschli,Oh! The chocolate cream soldier. Again
Catherine and Nicola manage the situation by making a story of a cake
soldier. Sergius, insinuated by Louka, blames Raina for making love to
Bluntschli at his back. To this, Bluntschli discloses the whole story of
chocolate cream soldier and tells Sergius that Raina had to receive him
on the point of his pistol otherwise she is chaste. Sergius is defeated, but
the denouement of the play is postponed a little until the defeat of Sergius
is complete. He has himself being untrue to the romantic ideal of love,but
he still believes Raina to be fully inspired and exalted by it. Louka
disillusions him and finally he surrenders to her. Bluntschli goes on
demolishing all the romantic sentiments ruthlessly, at last snatches off
Raina. When her parents come to know about Bluntschlis wealth, they do
not obstruct her way. With this the play ends. The very triumph of the
character is the antithesis between the conventional standard of life and
the real motive in life.
Petkoff and Sergius come back and the plot is made complicated by the
return of Bluntschli. By now everyone has come to know the story of his
escape; the only fact hidden is Raina and her mothers hand in it. Shaw
never forgets the double purposes of the play. Sergiuss higher love for
Raina proves false when he starts flirting with the maid-servant, Louka.
The play has reversed the traditional theory of play-making in the last Act
with its conclusion. The plot rises to its height in the First Act and wanders
off into mere dialogue. As Chesterton has pointed out, apart from the
problem raised in the play, the very form of it was an attractive and
forcible innovation. Classic plays which were wholly heroic and comic
plays ironical were common enough. Commonest of all in this particular
time was the play that begun playfully, with plenty of comic business, and
was gradually sobered by sentiment until it ended on a note of romance
or even of pathos. Shaw reversed this process. He has built the play not on
pathos, but on bathos.
The play moves from sublime to ridiculous. It is, thus, an anti-romantic
and anti-climatic comedy. All the interest of the play centres around the
triangular fight between Raina, Sergius and Louka, to be concluded by
the debasement of Sergius, whose real self is revealed in the process, and
all the stupidity of romantic idealism is laid bare. It should be noted that
Petkoffs coat plays an important part in the resolution of the plot.
Bluntschli:I know it doesnt sound nice; but it was much safest plan. I
redeemed it the day before yesterday. Heaven only knows whether the
pawnbroker cleared out the pocket or not.

***I dont recall what happened then. I think I must have cried;
I put my arms around him and I pulled him to my side
And as I held him to me, I could feel our wounds were pressed
The large one in my heart against the small one in his chest.***