Arms and the Man
Titled after the lines from Virgil's Aeneid: "Arma virumque cano" (Of arms and the man I sing), this play was first produced in 1894. It was published in 1898 as part of Shaw's Plays Pleasant which includes Candida, You Never Can Tell, and The Man of Destiny.
Oscar Straus's 1908 operetta "The Chocolate Soldier" preserved the plot of the play pretty much intact, while (per Shaw's request) changing the characters' names. As the play opens, a Swiss mercenary, during a rout of the Serbian army by the Bulgarians, takes refuge in the bedroom of an aristocratic Bulgarian girl, the fiancee of the young Bulgarian officer who caused the rout.--Submitted by Anonymous
Act I of the play Arms and the Man sets forth with a romantic ambience in which Raina whose mind is permeated by the works of Puskin and Byron, is engrossed in her dreamspace nursed, nurtured and nourished by her infatuations towards militarism. She looks upon her betrothed Sergius as an icon of manliness. So, she looks upon the portrait of her fiancÚ as a votary looks upon the deity. She is a balloon filled with illusions of love, marriage and war. Therefore, a balloon as such needs to be punctured, and the puncturing is done by the midnight intruder, the fugitive Bluntschli, who appears to be a sharp antithesis to Sergius. Bluntschli candidly confesses that he does not want to bite the dust and hence he has taken to his heels from the front. His devouring chocolates stimulates her motherly instincts and the man at her apron needs to be mothered. Hence, her initial abhorrence gives way to bent for the Man. Bluntschli, the mouthpiece of Shaw brings about a topsy-turvy to the established conviction held by our heroine. Thus, Act I of the play determines the complexities of the subsequent Acts.--Submitted by Dipen Guha
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