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calls Arms and the Man, set during a war in the Balkans between the Bulgarians and

the Serbians, an anti-romantic comedy. The main purpose of the dramatist is to


satirize the romantic conception of life. Shaw has no faith in emotion and sentiment.
Throughout the drama he denounces the idealism and insists on realism. He does it
through humor of character and humor of situation at the same time.

Even the very title signs an anti romantic bearing. Bernard Shaw borrowed the title
from the opening line of Virgils great epic Aeneid, which reads as follows: Arma
virumque cano", meaning Of arms and the man I sing. Shaws obvious purpose
was to satirise and puncture the inflated balloonsthe romantic ideas about war
and love.

This inflated balloons concern themselves with the problems of lifethe maladies of
society. Bernard Shaw presents those vividly before the audience/readers with a
view to bringing about radical changes in the real situation. Arms and the Man can
definitely be classified as a drama of ideas since it deals with the undesirable
presentation of the romantic concept of love and war. Shaw however resorts to
Ruritanian romance which takes its name from the imaginary country of Ruritania
found in Hope's book. This type of story generally includes intrigue, adventure,
sword fights, and star-crossed lovers, ingredients that are all found in Arms and the
Man. However, Shaw inverts the conventions of melodrama and inserts critical
commentary on love and war into the cleverly funny lines of his play.

In Arms and the Man the dramatist's intentions are comic irony and the use of anticlimax is the tool through which he achieves his comic intention. Sergius and Raina
become comic figures as the insincerity of their romantic love and their romantic
attitude is exposed. Raina and Sergius come down to the level of Louka and
Bluntschli. The dramatist has succeeded in his comic intention. He shows that war is
not heroic but something horrible and brutal because soldiers are not heroes but
fools and cowards who fight only because they are compaled to fight. Sergius's
heroic victory appears in a comic light when it is discovered that he could win only
because the Serbian gunmen had the wrong ammunition with them. Sergius makes
love to Louka as soon as Raina's back is turned, soon after "the higher love scene".
This way Shaw has shown the flaw of romantic ideals of love and war, his purpose in
writing the play. He has given a number of fun and humor for his readers and
audience, but same time he has also achieved his serious purpose.

In broad it is the conflict between idealism and realism. The romantic ideal of war as
a glorious opportunity for a man to display courage and honor is dispelled when
Sergius admits that his heroic cavalry charge that won the battle was the wrong
thing to do. His notable action does not get him his promotion and Sergius learns
the realism.Much of Bluntschli is made of realismi.e., keeping chocolates instead
of ammunition in his cartridge belt, showing contempt for sentimentality, and
reacting in a practical manner to his father's death. However, Nicola is the
consummate realist in the play. Nicola's message is: adapt, exploit, and survive.
Bluntschli proves to have a romantic side, after all, and thus is the most balanced
character in the play in that he seems to know when to temper his romanticism with
realism and when to stick to his ideals.

In a set of characters these anti sentimental ideas are imposed on Shavian style.
Shaw deliberately created Bluntschli as an anti-hero or unheroic hero, who exposes
the false romantic ideas of love and war. He brings all the characters round back to
the practical problems of life, doing which, he shows that he is truly heroic in the
sense that happiness actually lies in that. He is radically rational and logical in his
actions and views about life.G. B. Shaw created Saranoff Sergius as a romantic type
made famous by the craze of Byronism in Europe, as a foil to Bluntschli in an
obvious attempt to expose the hollowness of the conception of love and war, which,
the character of the former believes to live by. Shaw shows that, in reality, Sergius is
a romantic fool, a coward, full of contradictions. In spite of his higher love for Raina,
he flirts with a maid-servant louka. In practical affairs, he fails utterly. Sergius
accidentally won a battle in an unscientific and impractical manner. That is why he
was not promoted to higher rank. To protest against this, he tells Catherine that he
gave up the job. Now he intends to use his accidental victory to prove his heroism,
which, in reality, is false.Shaw presents Raina as a young girl with as head full of
false conceptions of love and war. But very quickly she learns the truth as she
comes in contact with Bluntschli whom she rightly chooses as her husband free
from all the illusions. But above all, Shaw endows her with all the attributes of a
woman, of a mother, which Shaw later on necessary for the creation of Superman.

Further, Shaw wanted technical novelty for the modern drama which consists in
making the spectators themselves the persons of the drama and the incidents of
their lives its incidents. He disuses the old stage tricks by which audiences had to
be induced to take an interest in unreal people and improbable circumstances.
Shaw believes that the most important peculiarity of modern art is the discussion of
social problems. Shaw's greatest gifts are not in the sphere of poetry but in the field
of wit, of ideas, of flashing intelligence. He neither can nor wants to imitate other
dramatists as a creator of character, because he is too deeply concerned with social
problems or issues.

What is known as drama of Ideas? How do


you classify Arms and The Man as a drama of
ideas?

Drama of Ideas or the drama of social criticism in the real sense is a modern
development. A number of contemporary problems and evils are subjected to
discussion and searching examinations and criticism in these plays. Thus in it, the
structure and characterization are of subordinate importance; it ids the discussion
that counts. Ibsen and then Shaw, Galsworthy and Granville Barker were the chief
exponents of this realistic drama of ideas.

To Shaw, drama was preeminently a medium for articulating his own ideas and
philosophy. He enunciated the philosophy of life force which he sought to
disseminate through his dramas. Thus Shavian plays are the vehicles for the
transportation of ideas, however, propagandizing they may be. Shaw wanted to cast
his ideas through discussions.

Out of the discussions in the play Arms and The Man Shaw breaks the idols of love
and war. The iconoclast Shaw pulls down all false gods which men live, love admire
and adore. By a clever juxtaposition of characters and dialogues, Shaw shatters the
romantic illusions about war and war heroes Shaws message is that war is no
longer a thing of banners and glory, as the nineteenth century dramatist saw it, but
a dull and sordid affair of brutal strength and callous planning out. The dialogues of
Bluntschli, Riana and Sergius go to preach this message with great success. Here to
quote Sergius who says, War is a hollow sham like love. One thing however be
remembered that in Arms and The Man, Mr. Shaw does not, as some imagine attack
war. He is not Tolstoy an in the least. What he does is to denounce the sentimental
illusion that gathers around war. Fight if you will, says he but for goodness sake
dont strike picturesque attitudes in the limelight about it. View it as one of the
desperately irrational things of life that may, however, in certain circumstances be a
brutal necessity. Bluntschli is the very mouth piece of the play that exposes the

dreamful reality of war. There is a lot of learning in the disillusionment of Riana and
Sergius.

But this is not the whole message Shaw intends to convey through his Arms and The
Man. In the play he has taken a realistic view not only of war and heroism but of
love and marriage. He has taken a realistic view of life as a whole. He has blown
away the halo of romance that surrounds human life as a whole. His message in this
play is, therefore, the destruction not only of the conventional conception of the
heroic soldier but of the romantic view of marriage, nay, of life as a whole. He
pleads for judging everything concerning human life from a purely realistic point of
view. This is the message he conveys through the play, Arms and The Man. The hero
Bluntschli here serves the mouth piece of the author. He is the postal of level
-headedness that sees through emptiness of romantic love and romantic heroism.
He towers about all others and shatters all the pet theories and so called high ideas,
and converts Raina and Sergius to his own views and succeeds in life because he
faces facts and his no romantic illusions about him.

Further, as all the propaganda plays go Arms and The Man lacks action and instead
of action it contains plenty of dramatic dialogues. It is not a lie if we say the Arms
and The Man Shaws a perfect combination of the elements of action and
discussion. The conversation between Raina and Captain Bluntschli, for example in
the act-I, is extremely lively and through the mouth of the chocolate cream soldier.
Shaw gives expression to his own heresies about the glories of warfare. The fugitive
soldier talks to the universality of the flaying instinct, but his talk is not an end in
itself. He argues only with a view to persuading Raina to give him shelter and to
protect him from the raids of Bulgarian soldiers. Thus there is not a scrap of
discussion for the sake of discussion. The action of the drama require that Rainas
hatred of a cowardly should be disarmed, her romantic notions blasted and
sympathy and pity aroused. As soon as this end has been achieved, the tired soldier
drops down fast asleep. He instinctively realizes that he has become Rianas poor
dear; and there is no need for further argument.