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Arms and the Man

George Bernard Shaw




The heroine of the play, Raina’s inner self is more nuanced than her outward appearances. Her true self is revealed not to be horrible or evil, but simply complex and human. Raina aspires to a perfect romantic chastity for Sergius, but really harbors affection toward Bluntschli after their initial encounter. She claims never to have lied in her life, but admits later to telling strategic lies when they can make a situation easier to handle. Raina is revealed to be not a symbol of perfect femininity, but, rather, a human being, deserving of companionship with another human. In structuring Raina’s character this way, Shaw subverts some of the expectations of what might have been either a comedy of marriage or a serious play about love and war. Arms and the Man, and Raina in particular, are instances of the detail of lived experience complicating broader narratives about what “goodness,” “valor,” or “truth” ought to be.

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by MariaDPettiford, November 02, 2017

Arms and the Man is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, whose title comes from the opening words of Virgil's Aeneid, in Latin: Arma virumque cano.

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Arms and the Man