Arms and the Man Short Summary relates the tale of a run away soldier. He takes refuge in the house of enemy army’s general. The general’s daughter falls in love with him. All the idols of readers are broken one by one. The ideal of the brave soldier, we know, shatters. There is a coward hidden inside that icon of bravery. There is a lot more to this. Enjoy the summary.
Arms and the Man Short Summary
The play is a romantic comedy of a young, beautiful and sentimental girl, Raina as well as her clever and over smart maid Louka. The play takes place in the family of major Petkoff. The mannerisms and excessive stress on the stupid pride of nationalism and resultant jingoism come under mockery by the playwright. Where Raina day dreams and idealizes the heroism of her Fiance. The play opens with the news of war between Servians and the Bulgarians.
Bernard Shaw Shatters Our Idealism of Soldiering and Brave Soldiers
Major Petkoff has been on the front fighting for his nation, the Bulgarians. At midnight, a Swiss fugitive soldier runs up the balcony of major Petkoff’s house; he enters the room of Raina. On gun point, Raina is forced to remain silent and she cooperates. A little later, the lady realizes the soldier is in a rather bad condition. She comes to know that the soldier has no bullet in his pistol and the bag he carries has no ammunition. This shocks her. She offers him some chocolates to eat. The soldier thanks her and tries to explain the state of a fugitive soldier as well as why he does not keep ammunition with him.
“I’ve no ammunition. What use are cartridges in battle? I always carry chocolate instead; and I finished the last cake of that yesterday.”
All Soldiers are Alike; They are Cowards Like Average People:
He tells that soldiers are always alike. They are afraid of death. They are to save their life at all costs. She makes fun of him for being coward because she believes that “our soldiers are not like that” and he replies her with painful realism:
“There are only two sorts of soldiers: old ones and young ones…Sheer ignorance of the art of war, nothing else”.
The soldier stays there all night and before dawn Raina tells her mother about the soldier and they let him escape with an old coat of major Petkoff. Next day the major and Raina’s Fiance, Sergius, return from the front because war is over. A treaty of peace has been signed. Raina appears very happy to meet Sergius. She is so proud of his bravery. She amuses him by praising him and they are very romantic. The moment Sergius is alone, we find him flirting with Louka. He never misses any chance of being romantic with Louka while she is always trapping him to marry her.
While Sergius and Petkoff are inside the house planning the transit of the regiment, the Swiss comes to return the coat and to utter the words of thanks. Catherine, Raina’s mother, takes the bag and asks him to leave before somebody notices him. But before he can leave Petkoff and Sergius come running to stop him. Both know him. They stop him as a guest. They even ask him to help them settle the transit of regiments.
Arms and the Man Short Summary: The Love Begins
The Swiss stays. Petkoff and Sergius are not aware of the refuge given to the Swiss by Raina. Petkoff seeks the very coat which was given to the Swiss. The coat is brought but Petkoff asks his wife to mend it because it seems quite loose. On the other hand, Louka prevails upon Sergius and tells him that Raina is unfaithful to him behind his back. Petkoff puts his hand in the pocket of the coat and shouts surprisingly: “Your photograph, with the inscription: “Raina, to her Chocolate Cream Soldier-a souvenir” was in the coat pocket but is now missing. Petkoff smells something is wrong. He asks Nicola if he dropped Raina’s pastry that morning. Then he asks Sergius if he were the chocolate cream soldier and he returns with no.
Here Raina reveals that Sergius is interested in Louka while the Swiss is already married; she gave that picture to the Swiss thinking he was not married. The Swiss agitates that he is not married. Petkoff is confused but Nicola, the Fiance of Louka, disowns Louka stating her above his dignity. Louka, offers her hand to Sergius and he kisses it. She declares that he is to marry her now. And Sergius remembers that Louka offered her hand on the condition that she must be married. Sergius agrees to marry her.
The Ending: Arms and the Man Short Summary
Catherine accuses Louka of giving false information to Sergius and she replies: “I told Major Saranoff she would never marry him if the Swiss gentleman came back.” This startles them all. The Swiss is the most amazed one. He proclaims: “Do you suppose I am the sort of fellow a young girl falls in love with? Why, look at our ages! I’m thirty-four: I don’t suppose the young lady is much over seventeen”. Raina declares him “a romantic idiot” that cannot judge between 17 and 23. The story takes another turn and the Swiss proposes Raina saying: “If you were twenty-three when you said those things to me this afternoon, I shall take them seriously.” Major Petkoff gives the hand of his daughter to the Swiss and he leaves with the promise to return.
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