Romantic Notions Of Love And War
“Arms and the Man” is a satirical take on hypocrisies of humans and romantic ideas of love and war by genius playwright George Bernard Shaw. Even the title of the play depicts irony, being taken from the epic poem “The Aenied” written in 19 BC by the Roman poet Virgil – “ Of arms and men I sing… “ where Virgil glorifies war and Shaw doesn’t let go an opportunity to mock the very idea of war. He signifies humorously how love and war get intertwined with romantic illusions and lead to disastrous wars and unhappy marriages.
In the beginning of the play, we see the two Bulgarian ladies (Raina and Catherine) discussing the romantic picture of the ongoing war and its war-hero Sergius. Raina reveals her doubt regarding the existence of ideal heroes. She lives in her own make-belief world formed by reading Byron and Pushkin and visiting operas. Born and brought up in an Aristocratic family, she was never really exposed to the outside world and its grave realities. She says “-the world is really a glorious world for women who can see its glory and men who can act its romance.”
Captain Bluntschli acts as Shaw’s carrier of realism with sarcastic flavour. On many instances, he discretely brings down the ideal picture of life that Raina carried since childhood. He clarifies that all soldiers are afraid of death, nine out of ten are born fools and that the first man to open battle is not a hero. The more he deviated from Raina’s notions, poorer her opinion of him grew. She gets bewildered when she learns from him that he preferred carrying chocolates instead of ammunition. Her cherished ideals of manhood gets shattered. That incident earns him the nickname ‘the chocolate-cream soldier’. It has multiple implications. The term usually refers to an incapable soldier with no skills to fight a war. As Shaw is against the war, he means a soldier who is down to earth and logical about the practice and consequences of war. To any nation, a...