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Arms and the Man

George Bernard Shaw

Book Overview: 

Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw that takes place during the Serbo-Bulgarian War. Raina Petkoff is engaged to the gallant Sergius Saranoff, hero of the recent Bulgarian victory over the Serbs. But she is distracted by the abrupt arrival of Captain Bluntschli, a Swiss mercenary who fought for the Serbian army. He takes refuge in her bedroom after the battle and although he is initially threatening, reveals that he carries chocolates instead of bullets. Will Raina marry the posturing Sergius or the chocolate cream soldier? Extra intrigue is provided by saucy servant girl Louka, her dour fiance Nicola, and Raina's hand-wringing parents.

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Book Excerpt: 
. . .It's not loaded. (He makes a grimace at it, and drops it disparagingly into his revolver case.)

RAINA. Load it by all means.

MAN. I've no ammunition. What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead; and I finished the last cake of that yesterday.

RAINA (outraged in her most cherished ideals of manhood). Chocolate! Do you stuff your pockets with sweets—like a schoolboy—even in the field?

MAN. Yes. Isn't it contemptible?

(Raina stares at him, unable to utter her feelings. Then she sails away scornfully to the chest of drawers, and returns with the box of confectionery in her hand.)

RAINA. Allow me. I am sorry I have eaten them all except these. (She offers him the box.)

MAN (ravenously). You're an angel! (He gobbles the comfits.) Cr. . . Read More

Community Reviews

I have yet to read anything by Shaw that I didn't like and this play was no exception. There were several parts of this play that had me laughing out loud. One of my favourites is when Raina is trying to show Bluntschli that she is not an ignorant country girl, but a civilized person:


Oh yes... & NOW the Nobel Prize seems more than adequate for Shaw.

It is awesome to see how Shaw has honed his skill considerably (both "Widower's Houses" and "Mrs. Warren's Profession", written a few years before this one, are slightly more pedantic and the characters are less lik...more

چقدر خوب بود این!!!!

- "الإنسان والسلاح" هي مسرحية نشرت عام 1898 ، تدور احداثها في نهاية الحرب البلغارية - الصربية القصيرة.

- المسرحية تتجاذب بين الرومانسية والواقعية بإسلوب برنارد شو الكوميدي الساخر في تعرية المفاهيم (الحب، الحرب، الطبقية..) وقلبها رأساً على عقب في بعض الأحيان.

- تقوم "رايينا" بحماية احد...more

Another entry in my Shaw reading project.

One of the most charming, witty romantic comedies ever written with an irreverent twist.

Stuck in a backwater town, Raina Petkoff craves more out of life. Having read every book in the library, including all the romance novels, she’s sure there...more

Arms and the Man is Bernard Shaw’s first great play. It is filled with witty and amusing dialogue, a diverting and well-constructed plot, and charming, well differentiated characters. A perfect light comedy designed to amuse the most jaded audience, it is also a deadly serious play that launches a f...more

Having loved Pygmalion, I wanted to try something else from Shaw.

Arms and the Man seems at first just a charming comedy full of humour, but under the guise of entertaining us this is really a witty satire deconstructing the romantic concepts of military heroism and love.

The play, which was p.../>Arms

In the opening scene of Arms and the Man, which establishes the play’s embattled Balkan setting, young Raina learns of her suitor’s heroic exploits in combat. She rhapsodizes that it is “a glorious world for women who can see its glory and men who can act its romance!” Soon, however, such romanti...more

Reinventing the War Hero
6 December 2015

If we don't count the National Theatre version of Man and Superman that I watched in the cinema this would be the first Shavian play that I have seen performed (though I would add the word live considering the National Theatre version was videoed and the...more

Teaching Bernard Shaw

Paper presented at Kerala University, Trivandrum
March 1999

Teaching the plays of George Bernard Shaw to the undergraduate students of
Kerala state, India is not an easy task. Taking into consideration the poor
exposure to English liter...more

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