Arms and The Man (Act-1)- Explanation & Analysis
“Our gallant splendid Bulgarians with their swords and eyes flashing, thundering down like an avalanche and scattering the wretched Serbs and their dandified Austrian officers like chaff.”
Ref. & Context- These lines form part of the highly enthusiastic speech of Raina’s mother, Catherine, in the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. She is describing to Raina the charge made by Sergius which brought a victory to the Bulgarians against the Serbs.
Explanation- Sergius had attacked the Bulgarians against the orders of his Explanation and on his own responsibility. Catherine imagines the scene and describes it to Raina. She says that brave soldiers made the attack. They rushed down with great force like a huge mass of snow at he enemy. Their eyes and swords were shining brightly. Their attack was so forceful that the poor Serbian soldiers and their fashionably dressed Austrian officers were thrown away in all direction in the most disorderly manner.
Comment- This speech shows two things: (1) Shaw is giving a romantic idea of attack and victory, and (11) Catherine is highly romantic.
“Our patriotism. Our heroic ideals I sometimes used to doubt whether they were anything but dreams.”
Ref. & Context- These lines have been taken from George Bernard Shaw’s famous anti-romantic comedy Arms and the Man. They form Raina’s speech in the First Act which opens in a lady’s bed chamber in Bulgaria.
Catherine tells her daughter that Sergius led the cavalry charge and was victorious. She reminds Raina te worship him, when he comes back. Raina tells her mother that the victory of Sergius had shown that their ideals were real.
Explanation- When Catherine asks Raina to make her meaning clear, Raina says that she and Sergius had thought of many ideals. Patriotism or the love of one’s country was one of them. At first thought that to risk one’s life for one’s country was an impracticable ideal. Similar was the case with the heroic ideals of leading a military charge: There was a doubt in Raina’s mind if those ideals were insubstantial like dreams.
These lines show Shaw’s attitude towards Patriotism, which is impracticable and a ‘hollow sham’.
“When I buckled on Sergius sword he looked so noble: it was treason to think of disillusion or humiliation or failure.”
Ref. & Context- These lines are taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. When Catherine told Raina about the great victory that Sergius had won, Raina was full remorse for the doubts that she had sometimes felt.
Explanation- Raina says that when Sergius was departing for the battlefield she tied his sword round his waist. The look on his face at that time was one of greatness. Such a man was sure to gain splendid victories. It was impossible that her ideas of his greatness should prove wrong. His victory was certain. It was great faithlessness to think of opposite possibilities.
“All of them dear lady, all of them, believe me: It is our duty to live as long as we can.”
Ref. & Context- These lines are taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. When Raina says to Bluntschli that some soldiers are afraid to die. He gives this reply.
Explanation- Bluntschli says that all soldiers are afraid to die. He requests Raina to believe this fact. It is the duty of every man to avoid death and live as long as possible.
Comment- This is one of Shaw’s own remarks about soldiers. He wants to shatter the romantic belief of a soldier’s bravery.
“A lot of your cavalry will burst into this pretty room of yours and slaughter me here like a pig; for I’II fight like a demon: they shan’t get me into the street to amuse themselves with: I know what they are. Are you prepared to receive that sort of company in your present undress.”
Ref. & Context- These lines have been taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. When Bulgarian finds that Raina is not afraid of being shot he tries another method of persuading her allow him shelter in her room.
Explanation- Bluntschli tells Raina what will happen if Bulgarian soldiers come into her room in pursuit. Many horse- soldiers of their army will forcibly enter her beautiful room. If they catch him they will take him into the street and will enjoy insulting him in various ways. But he will not allow them to catch him. He will fight a bitter fight. They will kill him. There will be great noise and bloodshed and her room will be spilt. They are rough and uncultured people. She is not properly dressed and is half-naked Will she agree to meet such persons in that condition? It will be very awkward.
Comment- It shows how intelligent Bluntschli is. He at once changes the topic and uses the right weapon to gain his ends. However, this speech has a tinge of farcical element.
“An arrow shave; but a miss is as good as a milk. Dear young lady; Your servant to the death. I wish for your sake I had joined the Bulgarian army instead of the other one. I am not a native Serb.”
Ref. & Context- These lines are taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. When the Russian officer who had come to search for him goes away and Bluntschli is saved he comes out of his hiding and thanks Raina in these words.
Explanation- Bluntschli says that he has had a very narrow escape. But if a person who is running one mile away from the once enemy. He says that he will be an obedient servant of Raina all his life. He is now sorry that he joined the Serbian army. To please her and serve her he would have liked to join the Bulgarian army. He was not a citizen of Serbia.
Comments– (i) Bluntschli is deeply thankful. (ii) He tries to please Raina.
“I’ve no ammunition. What use are cartridge in battle. I always carry chocolate instead; and I finished the last cake of that hours ago.”
Ref. & Context- These lines have been taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. When Raina gives Bluntschli his pistol to protect himself against her he had nothing to load the pistol with. Cartridges are not at all useful in battle. He always carried chocolate instead of cartridges. This times too he had chocolate with him but he had none at that time because he had eaten the cake hours before that.
Comments: (i) This is one of the objects of the play. Shaw wanted to show the importance of food for the soldiers. But Shaw has gone a little too far. Nourishment is important but cartridge cannot be ignored altogether. (ii) Bluntschli cunningly hints that he is hungry.
“You can always tell an old soldier by the inside of his holsters and cartridge boxes. The young ones carry stols and cartridges: the old ones, grub.”
Ref. & Context- This is one of the remarkable statements made by the hero, Bluntschli in the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. Having told Raina that for a soldier food is much more important than ammunition, Bluntschli goes on to prove his theory with the help of an example from the army.
Explanation- Bluntschli says to Raina that there is great difference between the old soldiers and the new. If their pistol- case and cartridge boxes are searched the difference becomes clear at once. If they carry pistols and cartridges it shows that the soldiers are young and inexperienced ones. But old soldiers always have something to eat. When we see it in the pistol- cases and cartridge boxes of soldiers we can at once recognize him to be an old soldier.
Comment- Shaw is trying to emphasize his theory that for a soldier food is the most important.
“He did it like on operatic tenor. A regular handsome fellow, with flashing eyes and lovely moustache, shouting his war- cry and charging like Don Quixote at the windmill.”
Ref. & Context- These lines are taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. Bluntschli describes to Raina how Sergius charged them at the battlefield.
Explanation- In a musical comedy with songs the hero who sings the tenor part is handsome. Sergius was behaving like this hero when he made the attack. He was quite handsome and his moustache was lovely. With his eyes shining brightly with challenge he cried loudly his slogan for the battle. He was attacking so furiously and bindly as Don Quixote attacked the windmills considering them to be his enemy. He did not know that the result would be disastrous for him. In the same way Sergius foolishly attack the artillery where his destruction was certain.
Note: In the sixteenth-century Spanish romance by Cervantes, the hero, Don Quixote imagines that he is fighting an enemy when he is only attacking the sails of a windmill.
“And there was Don Quixote flourishing like a drum major, thinking he had done the cleverest thing ever thing ever known whereas he ought to be court manialled for it. Of all the fools ever let loose on a field of battle, that man must be the very maddest.”
Ref. & Context- These lines are taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. Here Bluntschli tells Raina that sergius had done a very foolish thing in attacking the artillery.
Explanation- Bluntschli says that Sergius was foolishly attacking the artillery just as Don Quixote had attacked the windmills where his destruction was certain. Sergius was moving about in the wind his sword as the leader of a marching band waves about his baton. He believed that he had acted in the wisest manner, but the fact was that was that he done such a foolish thing that he deserved to be tried and punished by the court of the army. Sometimes soldiers on a battlefield act so madly that they are soon destroyed. This man, Sergius was the worst of them.
“I tell you these things to show you that you are not in the house of ignorant country folk who would kill you the moment they saw your Serbian uniform, but among civilized people. We go to Bucharest every year for the opera season, and I have spent a whole month in Vienna.”
Ref. & Context- These lines are taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. Raina is trying to reassure Bluntschli that he is safe with her.
Explanation- Raina tells Bluntschli that they have a flight of stairs in the house and a library. She tells him all these things to remove any doubts from his mind. People living in villages who know nothing about good manners and culture would kill him as soon as they saw that he is a soldier of the Serbian army. But he is not among such people. These facts about her Serbian army But he is not among such people. These facts about her family will show him that they are civilized persons. They travel abroad every year to learn about the world and good manner. They witness the musical comedies in Bucharest every year and Raina has moved in the cultured society of Vienna for one complete month.
Comments- (i) These Remarks from Raina how her romantic views. (ii) People have nearly always considered it a sign of refinement and status to travel abroad.
“I thought you might have remembered the great scene where Emani, flying from his foes just as you tonight, takes refuge in the castle of his bitterest enemy, an old Castilian noble. The noble refuse in the castle of his bitterest enemy enemy, an old Castilian noble. The noble refuses to give him up. His guest is sacred to him.”
Ref. & Context- These lines have been taken from the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw. Raina tells Bluntschli that they would not hurt their guest in any way.
Explanation- When abroad Raina saw the opera of Ernani. In it there was a remarkable scene. Ernani was running away from his enemies just as Bluntschli was running away from the Bulgarians that night. Ernani took shelter in the castle of a noble from Castile, a province in Spain. This noble was the most envious enemy of Ernani. But now Ernani was his guest. He believed that Ernani should be lived and respected. So he did not give him up to his enemies. Raina hoped that Bluntschli remembered this scene and therefore felt certain that Raina’s people would protect him as the noble had protected Ernani.
Comments— This is just one instance of Raina’s romantic faith.
English Literature— Important links
- “Arms and the Man” (ACT-I) Summary
- Arms and the Man (Act-2) Summary
- Arms and the Man (Act- 3) Summary
- B. Shaw’s Theory of Life-Force
- Life History of G. B. Shaw (Biography)
- Shaw as an Artist and Socialist
- Major Works of George Bernard Shaw
- Development of English poetry since the age of Shakespeare
- Important Forms of poetry in English (Narrative, Lyrical, Sonnet etc.)
- Sonnet 29- When, in disgrace with fortune (William Shakespeare)
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