Examine the play Arms and the Man as a propaganda play or a play of ideas.

Examine the play Arms and the Man as a propaganda play or a play of ideas.

The three attitudes  of an idealistic roman and realistic outlook are exposed in the play. Shaw does not ridicule any of them but he shows that the realistic attitude is the best way of looking at things. Economics plays a significant role in society and in creating and preserving relationships. Sergius is the embodiment of idealism. He lives in a world which he believe is beautiful, happy, honourable and the love he has for Ran is an idealized higher love. He has lost connection with reality. Realization dawns on him that life is not as he dreams it to be: higher love is exhausting; war patriots, heroes like love is a sham. He has no seek relief in Louka's arms in order to continue with his life through tinted glasses. She is protected, safe, happy and rich. She has no real realization of life, war, love or even deceit. Her fiancee is a hero, a king who can do no wrong. Louka and Bluntschile with their forthright attitude towards life are required to rescue Raina from the fairytale world which she inhabits. Ironically, though Bluntschile is a professional soldier and a practical man he is a romantic at heart who considers her worthy of worship from afar because of their social difference. Louka dreams of climbing the social ladder through a possible marriage with Sergius which she sets about to ensure in her individual proud and defiant way and is successful. Everything is resolved when the fixed margins of these three attitudes merge. Sergius finds his happiness with the servant girl Louka by giving up his pretense of higher love and social class considerations. Louka uses precisely those two means love and lower social status to secure Sergius as her husband. Raina is brought down to reality by Bluntschile when he expose her as a liar but paradoxically declares that he admires her because of it for it constituted her charm. His romantic nature which prompted him to return the coat in person is the direct reason for which the upheaval occurs. The Petkoffs are not agreeable to their marriage because as Catherine proudly states they belonged to an old and important family whereas he could not possibly provide the luxury to which Raina was accustomed. This problem is also solved through Bluntschiles's recently acquired wealth at his father's death and all social consideration are ignored. They are granted her parent's blessing. Nicola, who has a wonderful sense of what reality constitutes backs down from marrying Louka but does not give up his dream of economic advancement in the form of owning a shop. The real world develops in spite of idealistic and romantic attitudes. The real world comprise of lies, deceits, social conventions, ambitions, conflicts and wars. All these are to be found in the play from the moment Raina the romantic, decides to fool the Bulgarian cavalry officer to hide the Swiss soldier from them. Ultimately the truth is unraveled. The dramatist shows that accepting the ills of the world and viewing it in a realistic manner is beneficial for all.

The play is constructed on the backdrop of a historical war. Different attitudes to war are exposed by the various character in the play. Though it has been argued that Shaw's traditional comedic framework is at work when Bluntschile says that it is more worthwhile to carry chocolate than bullets in war. G.K. Chesterton has compared Shaw's opinions with that of Tolstory's. But unlike Tolstory's real hatred for war and his wish to abolish it. Shaw objects to them 'so far as  they are ideal, or idealized. Shaw hated the attractiveness of war more than war itself. He disliked the concept of idealized love more than love.

TEXTUAL QUESTIONS

1. Why is the play Arms and the Man popular ?
2. Comment on the Title of the play Arms and the Man.
3. Has Shaw been Successful in his attempt to Satire war ? Discuss The element of satire in Arms and the Man.
4. Write short notes on dialogue, characterization and stage direction in the play Arms and the Man.
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