Arms and the Man

Topics: George Bernard Shaw, Soldier, Arms and the Man Pages: 5 (2490 words) Published: August 21, 2013
: George Bernard Shaw, “Arms and the Man: A Pleasant Play.” Introduction by Rodelle Wientraub. Edited by Dan H. Laurence. Penguin Books, 2006. Text Summary of Act One
The scene is set in Bulgaria in November of 1885, during the Serbo-Bulgarian war. In a small town near the Dragoman Pass, a young lady loiters on the balcony off her bedchamber, looking out at the romantic night in the Balkan Mountains. Raina Petkoff is dressed in a nightgown but covered by a costly fur mantle. Her mother, Catherine Petkoff, interrupts her, telling her of the recent nearby battle at Slivnitza. The Bulgarians won, and it was her own fiancé, Sergius Saranoff, who was the hero! They embrace with delight as Catherine tells the details. There was a cavalry charge, and Sergius defied his own Russian commanders, scattering the Serbs and their Austrian officers by surprise. Raina says that it only proves their ideas were right. The ideas of heroism and patriotism that she has doubted really do exist! She admits that as she buckled on her hero’s sword she wondered if the ideals were only in books and poems. Now she knows that Sergius is as brave as he looks. Louka, a pretty servant girl, comes in to announce that by Solid Savings" id="_GPLITA_0" style="text-decoration: underline;" href="#" in_rurl=""the windows must be shut and fastened; there is fighting in the street. The Serbs are running away and could be dangerous. She locks the shutters, and Catherine goes to see to the house. Raina begs for the shutters to stay open, saying that she wishes her people would not be cruel to the fugitives. Louka slyly shows Raina how to open the shutters again, and then leaves. Raina throws her cloak on the ottoman and goes to the chest to admire a portrait of Sergius. As she prepares to get into bed, she hears a shot. Raina blows out the candles but sees someone come in through the balcony by Solid Savings" id="_GPLITA_1" style="text-decoration: underline;" href="#" in_rurl=""shutters. A man’s voice warns her to be careful and to strike a light so he can see her. In the light she sees a Serbian officer in distress, spattered with blood and mud. He takes a threatening tone with Raina, as she is an enemy, explaining he does not intend to get killed. Raina treats him disdainfully, comparing him to her brave Sergius, who, she believes, is not afraid to die. The man takes up her cloak so she will not go out to call someone. He tells her if they catch him they will butcher him in front of her in her room; then he throws his pistol on the ottoman. A Bulgarian patrol comes to the door of the house. Raina and the stranger hear the commotion as the search begins. The fugitive suddenly gives in and says it’s all over. He gives Raina her cloak and tells her not to look when they shoot him. Raina generously says she will save him. She puts him behind the by Solid Savings" id="_GPLITA_2" style="text-decoration: underline;" href="#" in_rurl=""window curtain. Louka enters saying that a Serb was seen climbing up to her balcony. She exhorts Raina to dress and leave. Then Louka sees the pistol on the ottoman and freezes. Catherine rushes in and asks if Raina has seen anything. Raina lies and says no. A Russian officer comes in to the bedroom to search. Raina says there is no one there and throws open the balcony doors. The officer withdraws, but Louka takes in the scene, realizing what Raina is doing, and laughs insolently at her...
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