ARMS AND THE MAN by Bernard Shaw


Original Paperback Edition

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Arms and the man, one of Shaw’s most glittering comedies, was first produced on 21st April, 1894 at the avenue theatre and published in 1898 as part of Shaw’s plays pleasant volume, which also included Candida, you never can tell, and the man of destiny. Like his other works, it questions conventional values and uses war and love as his satirical targets. This play is also a burlesque of Victorian attitudes to heroism, war, and empire. In the contrast between Captain bluntschli, the mercenary soldier, and the brave leader, sergius saranoff, the true nature of valour is revealed. The plot of the play has been set in the backdrop of the 1885 serbo-bulgarian war. Its heroine, Raina petkoff, is a young Bulgarian woman engaged to sergius saranoff, one of the heroes of the war, whom she idealizes. One night, a Swiss voluntary soldier in the Serbian Army, Captain bluntschli, bursts through her bedroom window and firstly threatens her, then begs her to hide him, so that he is not killed. She complies, though she thinks the man a coward, especially when he tells her that he does not carry pistol cartridges, but chocolates. When the battle dies down, Raina and her mother sneak bluntschli out of the house, disguised in an old housecoat. The war ends and sergius returns to Raina, but also flirts with her insolent servant girl, louka. Bluntschli unexpectedly returns so that he can return the old housecoat, but also so that he can see her. Louka tells sergius that the man with whom Raina is in love is bluntschli. Raina admits that she has had feelings for bluntschli since they first met. Sergius accepts louka as his lover in public, thus satisfying louka’s desire to move up in the social ranks.


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