Hi, have a good time:
Being my mother-tongue is Arabic ,I shall try to post anything could help you.
An introduction: Bernard Shaw is a great playwright who is skillfully and descriptively capable of attracting his readers by introducing images, symbolism, allegory and similes, depicting how the characters behave according to his meant own intentions. Through his play “ Arms And Man”, Bernard Shaw describes war, society, marriage, love and people.
(*) War: it is reputed by people to be as a splendid venture at Shaw’s time, and the one who is able to join the army of his country, fights bravely and get backs victorious will be warmly welcomed, promoted and becomes of high nobility. It is obvious that Raina is a romantic girl sees her war hero is the one who fights bravely and comes back happily triumphant in that she has had a portrait of her lover, Sergius, to whom she has been engaged, fixed on the inner wall of her special room.
Raina does not lock her window shutters; consequently, Swiss escaping soldier, Blunschli climbs the water pipe; and then through the window, he gets in Raina’s room and she hides him. This case is meant by Shaw to expose how indulged blind beloved in illusions of romantic love admits such a strange soldier like Blundschli to get into her room although she is not acquainted with him. Another thing is that the fugitives flee in a large number from army; signaling how gruesome is the war and how easily can they find hideouts for themselves.
Bernard Shaw wants to show his readers that even the rich people can join the army as in blundschli’s case in spite of his father’s fortune. He describes the realistic fair war. The brave courageous man who has noble goals and general good is able to defend his homeland, fight against foes can join his country army ;otherwise, everyone who seeks for money can join and struggle cowardly.
Therefore, we figure out that Shaw lets Blundschli mockingly carries, instead of ammunition, a box of chocolate to make war less important issue and exposing how real battlefield fighters are. Bernard Shaw describes the bravest warrior in the combat through the escaping coward warrior, Bluntschli : “ It is like slinging a handful of peas against a windowpane: first one comes; then two or three close behind him; and then all the rest in a lump”. Besides, the commanders of Bulgarian army are Russian officers; adding ironically another glimpses of detestation to the war.
(*) Symbolism: Bernard Shaw inserts chunks of images, materials and even human to narrate indirectly discourse or an incident to his readers instead of making two characters or more chat together to find out that matter. Examples, when Bluntschli gets in Raina’s room, he hears the door being knocked at ; instantly he hides himself, helped by Raina, behind the window curtain after he has left his pistol on ottoman chair.
Therefore, This -laid revolver- denotes there must be someone who has burst into the room; thus, left it there. So, Shaw has to let some characters to ask each other in a dialogue to declare whose revolver is this and how it has been laid on the chair …ect. Instead, Shaw uses this technique to attract his readers and how it affects on incidents through the play.
In fact, this technique, effectively, gives some implications and mysteries to the play to be followed up by readers. Another matter is that Bluntschli borrows the coat of Raina’s father in which a Bluntchli’s photo is pocketed. This photo indicates the fugitive has been hidden in Raina’s house and there must be a love-story in a way or another. It is accepted that Raina’s father could have inquired his daughter of how the photo has been put into his coat pocket and to whom it belongs.
This shows us about Bernard Shaw’s ability of depicting his ideas and images to please his readers. Such symbols are aimed at readers to discover its secrets and how far effective they are. The eminent symbol in this play is the description of the coward soldier, we can say, because Bernard Shaw recapitulates some of the incidents that take place in the battlefield and how the chocolate soldier behaves in these circumstances.
It is known that chocolate can easily be eaten and so the coward soldier can easily be defeated.
(*) Household and servants: louka and Nicola are the servants of Petkoff’s house. Each one works according to his/her own duty. Therefore, we find out that Louka does not notify her lady, Catherine, when Bluntschli comes in and hidden in Raina’s room. They can keep their sponsor’s secrets unknown. Otherwise, they can easily be tempted and the secrets are divulged.
They may secretly eavesdrop, cheat their sponsor, rob him and spoil his life and even marital condition. This is a lesson aimed at readers to be aware of the servants and how high they are capable of destroying one’s life. This is not mentioned in the play but we could feel being readers.
(*) The question of class: through the play, Petkoff’s family represents this issue. They are wealthy and live in a wide palace, having some servants; they have their house decorated in a good design. They occasionally travel to some different places such as traveling seasonally to the opera in Bucharest and what sorts of books they read.
On contrary, we find that servants are people who just work for Petkoff’s family to have some wages for their dependants, buy clothes and whatsoever they need. Nicola says to Louka : “ How would your father be left on his little farmer…you do not know the power such high people have over the like of you and me when we try to rise out of our poverty against them” . it is evident that Petkoff’s family are proud of their electric bell fixed in their house and having a library .
We feel that Bernard Shaw tries to bridge the gap between high classes and low ones when the romantic hero, Sergius flirts with servant Louka telling her “ the higher love is a very fatiguing thing to keep up for any length of time”.
(*) Thematic structure: this aspect is compulsory to any literary work; otherwise, we, frankly, cannot appreciate and taste any piece of novel, play or any writings void of this style.
The reader is the one who put meaning on the text. We have to deduce what in between, to what it tacitly alludes and how it is constructed. We may apparently come across some meaningless words, but when we re-read deliberately these words, we find out that some of them carry significance.
Examples, Bluntschli : “a regular handsome fellow , with flashing eyes and lovely moustache , shouting his war-cry and charging like Don Quixote at the windmills”. He really describes his war mate and how he fights during the combat. He likens him as a warrior who cries and shivers cowardly toward an unreal foe without doing anything at all.
Bluntschli says: “ … when the sergeant ran up as white as a sheet …”. It is known that when the wind blows, the leaves of tree or paper will fly. Therefore, he personifies the warrior’s identity and how far he is so frightened, that he right away flees off his enemies.
Raina tells Bluntschli: “ yes, we have one, the only one in Bulgaria”. Means their library. It is a hint of pedantry by Raina showing that they are educated civilized people and do know everything. In case thematic structure, we could say “ an eloquent word is enough to express a speech”.
As Shakespeare says: “ brevity is the soul of wit”. Sergius says to Louka: “ … I would set you on the throne by my side”. He means that if he were a king, Louka would be the queen beside him. Sergius says to Bluntschli : “ … you are a machine “. We the machine is made of iron and it is absolutely empty of feelings and emotions; thus, Sergius likens Bluntschli as a machine that neither moves and feels at all.
Louka says to Sergius: “ … that touch makes me your affianced wife “, Sergius replies:” ah! I forgot that “. We as reader have a background of what has occurred before this position. The article (that) in this sentnence refers to Sergius’s promise to Louka if he touched her hand she would be his wife. Increasingly, we figure out Bernard Shaw’s talent in narrating his ideas.
Sergius cheerfully says to Louka: “You belong to me” after she has touched his hand. It means that Louka is right now his wife.
(*) Some mysterious points: there are some of points introduced through the play and can be intuitively interpreted as hidden secrets kept as they are until divulged or disclosed by the readers.
One of these issues is Bluntschli. Although he is a son of a wealthy man, he has joined Serbian army as a mercenary warrior. Why has he joined the army, as he is not in need of money? We feel that this meant by Bernard Shaw as a mock on partial people who encourage others to participate in wars to become noble heroes. Shaw declares that even the one who is famous for his fortune or high position can also join war either for a sublime goal or to have said that he has participated in war. Moreover, Bluntschli intensifies this when he does not move after he has been told of his father’s death.
One thing is that he has not been moved. Another one is that he could have felt happy to inherit his father’s hotels. More issue is Sergius when he gets back to homeland victorious, he talks lovely with Louka and flirts with her.
We know he has been engaged to Raina who awaits him on pins and needles. Why does he do that? Has he realized that Riana has fallen in love with someone who is Bluntschli? We can interpret somewhat tacitly is a sign of blame to Raina who betrayed him. We, readers, have in our mind some feedback to recall for connecting between our stored ideas and intentions of Bernard Shaw’s characters and how they behave and what they mean. As we mentioned above, “the laid revolver on the chair” in Raina’s room belongs to Blundtschli and; however, Louka does not know to whom belongs. It is a kind of secret which colors the play with attracting charming atmosphere.