Discuss the theme of war, love, and marriage of the play Arms and the Man

Question: Discuss the theme of the play Arms and the Man

Or, discuss in detail Show’s views on love, marriage, and war.

Or, discuss the theme of war, love, and marriage.


Arms and the Man” is a famous drama by G. B. Shaw (1856 – 1950) where love, war, and marriage are practically discussed. Shaw has shown how the romance of war leads to the romance of love. He has made fun of popular romantic false ideas regarding war, love, and marriage. He believes in marriage as a necessary and desirable institution but not in the romantic notion of love only. He has proved all subjects lie in a ludicrous way in this drama.

Raina’s disillusionment

At the very outset of the play, we meet Raina living in a world in which Sergius Sarnoff is the central figure. She considers herself in love with him. she has gathered her ideas of that passion from Byron, Puskin, and operas. She believes that what holds her, and her fiancé is ‘higher love’ and it will lead them into a married life of never-ending happiness.

“I shall never be unworthy my soul’s hero: never, never”

But her ideas about Sergius receive a bad shaking when she listens to the matter of fact from frank and lively Bluntschli. But even then, she persists in believing that her lover is the hero of romance. When he is back from the war, she receives him with warmth and calls him her hero and her king.

But a few moments later her vision changes when she sees Sergius shamelessly making love to Louka who is Raina’s maid. The apostle of higher love falls down from the pedestal where her imagination had placed him. Hence, she is unmoved when Sergius decides to Louka. She herself is ready to find happiness with Bluntschli.

Disillusionments and pretensions of Sergius after the war

The crowning point of the disillusionment is in Sergius himself. He returns from the war as a sadder but wiser man. He has been disillusioned. He puts it that the cavalry charge was the cradle and the grave of his military reputation. He has sent his resignation and is not going to withdraw it. Raina remains unconscious of this effect of disillusionment in her fiancé for a long time. It is interesting to note that while Bluntschli’s story of the cavalry charge has partly shaken Raina’s faith in her romantic realism about war, Sergius seems to be quite sobered by his experience. He has come to realize that soldiering is:

“The coward’s art of attacking mercilessly

when you are strong, and keeping out of harm way when you are weak.”

Thus, Shaw has shown the war in the light of common sense – a matter of business and superior forces devoid of romance and heroism.

Sergius also finds the higher reaches of that passion realized in his romance with Raina. When he returns, he is ready to make love to the maid as soon as his queen’s back is turned. Then he openly and with some conviction chooses Louka as his life partner. Then all his empty pretensions fade away and he is really ready to find sober sure happiness in Louka’s company.

Shaw’s ideas of a soldier

Bluntschli is Shaw’s idea of a soldier. He marches and fights like the real man with his stomach. Another thing being equal, he prefers life to death. Long fighting leaves his nerves on edge. He is uncontrollably sleepy after being awake for two nights. He eats cream chocolates which are offered to him by Raina. Such an idea of a soldier is revolting to Raina, but it will be recognized to be the reality by all who have been soldiers. Shaw philosophically evaluates the soldiers through Bluntschli in the following manner:

“Nine soldiers out of ten are born fools.”

More Notes of Drama

SR Sarker
SR Sarker
Articles: 380

Leave a Reply