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Arms and the Man as an Anti-romantic and anti war play

George Bernard Shaw a Fabian socialist, occupies a significant position in the


history of English literature as an unconventional dramatist. Being influenced by
Ibsen, a Norwegian playwright he took his pen to write dramas to satirize the
rotten attitudes, convention and manners of the society. Bernard Shaw created a
new kind of play. The new drama giving up all traditional conventions of dramatic
technique. Shaw wrote fifty three plays and all his plays are comedies. Arms and
the Man is the most popular and successful staged drama of Shaw. It is also an
anti- romantic comedy because it exposes the folly cowardice of soldiers
shatters the romantic illusions about war and attacks severely romantic and
sentimental love.
Bernard Shaw himself calls Arms and the Man an anti-romantic comedy. Shaw
himself was anti-romantic by nature. The principle objection raised by Shaw
against romantic literature is that it deals with imagery ideas and artificial
emotions. So, Shaw decidedly and intentionally wrote the play Arms and the
man in his innovative design of anti-romantic comedy.
In Arms and the Man, Shaw wittily, humorously and critically exposes the
hollowness of romantic and emotional concept of war love and marriage. At the
very beginning, we find that Raina, the heroine of the drama loves Surgius
romantically. Her joys know no bounds hearing the news that Surgius led the
Bulgarian towards victory. We find Raina harboring idealistic and extravagant
nations of war and also about the heroism of her fianc, Sergius. She says:
I am so happy! so proud
She addresses the portrait of Sergius murmuring my hero, my hero. Raina
thinks that war seems to be an opportunity for man to display their heroism and
Sergius seems to be a splendid hero. A critic comments on this romantic ecstasy of
Raina that A romantic girls romantic view of life. But very soon this
romantic illusion of Raina is shattered by Bluntschli, a fugitive Swiss soldier.
Knowing nothing about the romance between Sergius and Raina. Bluntschli
exposes to Raina the fact of Sergius foolish performance on the battlefield.
Bluntschli opens the eyes of Raina and brings her down into worth from her
romantic fantasy world.
Raina who considered Sergius a great hero, now finds it is her mere illusion.
She also becomes sympathetic at the sight of the miserable condition of captain
Bluntschli. She learns from Bluntschli that chocolates were more important for a
soldier on the battle field than cartridges. When she finds Bluntschli eating
chocolate creams, greedily, she out of fun calls him chocolate cream soldier. It is
Bluntschli who makes her realize that a soldier is not a superman. A soldier is a

human being, subject to all weakness of human nature including fear of death.
Bluntschli, the mouth speaker of the dramatist, with his anti-romantic attitudes
towards war and life attract the heart of Raina.
Sergius who is full of vanity and pride for winning on accidental battle also gets
disillusioned about war. In spite of his apparent success as a Soldier, he is
criticized by his senior official and there by is promotion. He resigns his job being
frustrated about the profession and empresses his realization to Mrs. Catherine
Petkoff.
In the same manner, Shaw ridicules and satirizes the romantic attitude of love in
Arms and the man. In the play the romantic lovers are like just butterflies sucking
honey from flower to flower. So even being betrothed to Sergius, Raina put a
signed photograph on the pocket of the coat given to Bluntschli for his realistic
and humanistic attitude to life and for that reason she gave the photograph as a
souvenir for her love to her chocolate cream soldier. Similarly Sergius show his
strange fickleness by shifting his romantic feeling for Raina to Louka, a maid
servant in Rainas family. Thus Shaw shows the hollowness of romantic love
between Bluntschli and Raina upholds Shaws view of ideal marriage and love.
In conclusion, we may say that Arms and the Man is an Anti-romantic comedy
which admits of no controversy. The dramatist is in doubted successful in his
purpose of satirizing romantic notions about war and love in his play Arms and
the Man.

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