Arms and the Man

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Raina Petkoff
Raina, the heroine of the play, is the only child of Major Petkoff and Catherine Petkoff. She is a "romantic" and had romantic notions of love and war. Catherine Petkoff
Catherine Petkoff, Raina's mother, is a middle-aged affected woman, who wishes to pass off as a Viennese lady. She is "imperiously energetic" and good-looking. Louka
Louka, a servant girl in the Petkoff household, is proud and looks down on servility. She is ambitious and wishes to rise in life. Nicola wishes to marry her but she has other plans. Major Petkoff

Major Petkoff has acquired his position in the army more because of his wealth than his ability. In military strategy he takes help from Bluntschli but believes that he himself has made all the plans. He is, however a good father and husband. Sergius

Sergius is handsome, as a romantic hero ought to be, has a good position in the army and supposed to be brave. He is supposed to be in love with Raina but flirts with Louka. |
Bluntschli is a Swiss professional soldier. He believes that it is better to be armed with chocolates than with ammunition on the battlefield. In contrast to Sergius "he is of middling stature and undistinguished appearance". He is energetic and carries himself like a soldier. Nicola

Nicola is an old servant of the family. He displays a lot of discretion in dealing with the members of the family as well as their guests. He is fond of Louka who disapproves of his servility. KEY LITERARY ELEMENTS

Prince Alexander I, the Regent of Bulgaria, led the Bulgarian army against the Serbs who had declared war in November 1885. The Bulgarian army was helped by the Russians whereas the Serbs were led by Austrians. The Swiss supplied a large number of mercenaries and Captain Bluntschli is one such soldier fighting on the Serbian side. Such mercenaries had no feelings. At a crucial point Russia called back her officers and Bulgaria was left to fend for herself. In spite of such mishaps the Bulgarians were victorious in the Battle of Slivnitza in November 1885. |

The title of the play "Arms and the Man" comes from the opening lines of "The Aeneid", Virgil's epic-poem describing the adventures of Aeneas, the Trojan Prince. Shaw calls it an "Anti- Romantic Comedy". The term romantic, according to Shaw, meant untruth. Romance refers to a kind of fiction, which did not concern itself with real life; it gave greater importance to idealization. The same trend was followed by drama. Scribe and Sardon in Paris wrote well -made plays which had well- constructed plots with several well-known devices. Audiences were used to such drama, therefore, when Ibsen's plays "The Doll's House" and "Ghosts" were performed, people were shocked. Shaw was inspired by Ibsen who tackled real issues and made people think. Like Ibsen, he tackled real issues that Englishmen were made to think about. CONFLICT

The conflict in "Arms and the Man" is between opposing beliefs and ideas. Protagonist
Raina is the protagonist. She has romantic notions about war and love. Antagonist
In a way, Bluntschli could be considered the antagonist since he presents a realistic picture of war. Louka is the other antagonist who makes Raina and Sergius aware of the practical side of love. Climax

Bluntschli's arrival with the coat is the climax. At that point the play gets most complicated. Outcome
The outcome is a happy one. Raina marries Bluntschli and Louka secures Sergius. Overall, the main characters come down to the practical realities of life. |
The play has two major Themes : war and marriage. Romantic illusion about war lead to disasters, in the same way romantic notions of love and marriage lead to unhappy marriages. A minor theme is the relationship between the upper and lower classes as represented by the Petkoffs and their servants Nicola and Louka. Shaw upheld social equality. MOOD

Pleasant. The play was published together with the others in...
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