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Full title Arms and the Man
Author George Bernard Shaw
Type of work Play
Genre Comedy of manners; social satire
Time and place written London; 1893
Date of first performance 1894 (London)
Publisher N/A; first performed in London
Narrator Play does not have a narrator, but there are scene descriptions and stage in addition to the dialogue.
Point of view The play has no “point of view” as in fiction. The audience sees all characters equally and externally.
Tone Social critique
Setting (time) 1885-6
Setting (place) Bulgaria; the Petkoff estate
Major conflict Catherine and Raina worry that Sergius and Petkoff will realize that they harbored Bluntschli in their home in secret during the war.
Rising action Bluntschli arrives back at the Petkoff estate in Act Two, to return Petkoff’s coat.
Climax Bluntschli reveals his love for Raina, Raina her love for Bluntschli; and Louka and Sergius admit to their affair.
Falling action Bluntschli makes a formal offer of marriage to Raina, who accepts, and Sergius offers marriage to Louka, who also accepts (after goading him into doing it).
Themes Disillusionment with war; the complexity of romantic love; the arbitrary nature of social status
Motifs Ill-timed entry; romantic affairs; the soul of a servant
Symbols Petkoff’s coat; chocolate creams; the library
Foreshadowing In Act Two, Sergius and Petkoff discuss hearing a story about a man whom Bulgarian noblewomen hid in their own home, with their husbands and families away at war. Louka states that she knows secrets about the Petkoffs, and also will do whatever she can to elevate her social status.