Comedies often have the unfortunate reputation of having little real depth. Arms and the Man, proves that notion to be false. Shaw's play is full of comedic drama, combining an entertaining plot with true philosophical depth.
On one level, Arms and the Man is a successful, and somewhat unique, romantic comedy. The young, melodramatic, and superficial Raina comes from a military family deeply involved in a war; her fiancé and her father are both military officers. She is shocked, one night by the arrival of an enemy soldier. She rescues him, knowing that she'll have to keep the incident a secret from her family forever, and the soldier eventually leaves. Of course, once the war is over, that soldier comes back, forcing each of the primary characters to reevaluate their values and their relationships.
It is quite interesting how Shaw layers meaning within the rather standard comedic plot. Shaw manages to comment on class constructs, on the absurdity of war, and even on the nature of love. And, of course, he does this with the Shavian wit and within a satisfying plot. There is so much here to think about that I think a lot can be missed in a single viewing. Arms and the Man is excellent comedic theater and is definitely one of Shaw's best works.
"Arms and the Man" is both an amusing and thought-provoking movie that retains its relevance even today, more than a century after it was first conceived. Shaw mocks at the popular theories on war and love and combines a military satire with a taunt on love and family structure. The play has flashing wit, buoyant humor and bitter sarcasms. A good example of Shaw’s dialogue is the statement by Captain Bluntschli to Serguis: "I'm a professional soldier: I fight when I have to, and am very glad to get out of it when I haven't to. You're only an amateur; you think fighting is an amusement". Indeed as a Swiss hotel-keeper's son, Bluntschli had no reason to be involved in war and it is in this absurdity that Shaw...
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