Full title  Arms and the Man

Author George Bernard Shaw

Type of work  Play

Genre  Comedy of manners; social satire

Language  English

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

Tense  Present

Setting (time)  1885-6

Setting (place)  Bulgaria; the Petkoff estate

Protagonist  Raina

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.