Please wait while we process your payment
If you don't see it, please check your spam folder. Sometimes it can end up there.
Don’t have an account?
Create Your Account
Sign up for your FREE 7-day trial
Already have an account? Log in
Choose Your Plan
$4.99/month + tax
$24.99/year + tax
Save over 50% with a SparkNotes PLUS Annual Plan!
for a group?
Get Annual Plans at a discount when you buy 2 or more!
$18.74 /subscription + tax
Subtotal $37.48 + tax
on 2-49 accounts
on 50-99 accounts
Want 100 or more?
for a customized plan.
You'll be billed after your free trial ends.
7-Day Free Trial
Renews December 18, 2023
December 11, 2023
Discounts (applied to next billing)
This is not a valid promo code.
(one code per order)
Annual Plan - Group Discount
SparkNotes Plus subscription is $4.99/month or $24.99/year as selected above. The free trial period is the first 7 days of your subscription. TO CANCEL YOUR SUBSCRIPTION AND AVOID BEING CHARGED, YOU MUST CANCEL BEFORE THE END OF THE FREE TRIAL PERIOD. You may cancel your subscription on your Subscription and Billing page or contact Customer Support at email@example.com. Your subscription will continue automatically once the free trial period is over. Free trial is available to new customers only.
For the next 7 days, you'll have access to awesome PLUS stuff like AP English test prep, No Fear Shakespeare translations and audio, a note-taking tool, personalized dashboard, & much more!
You’ve successfully purchased a group discount. Your group members can use the joining link below to redeem their group membership. You'll also receive an email with the link.
Members will be prompted to log in or create an account to redeem their group membership.
Thanks for creating a SparkNotes account! Continue to start your free trial.
Your PLUS subscription has expired
Note: Beginning of Act Three to Nicola’s conversation with Louka
The scene shifts to the library, where Bluntschli is drawing up the troop movements for Petkoff and Sergius, both of who are in awe of his abilities. Petkoff wonders where his old coat went. He’s wearing a replacement and doesn’t like it. Catherine tells him his coat is in the closest where he left it, and Petkoff bets a large sum it isn’t there. When Nicola does in fact bring the coat in, Petkoff is flummoxed and Catherine and Raina are not surprised, as it was Bluntschli who returned that coat the same morning. Sergius and Petkoff leave the library, Sergius somewhat embarrassed by Bluntschli’s expertise and leadership in drawing up the plans for the troops.
Raina and Bluntschli are alone for the first time since his arrival. Raina says that Bluntschli looks better than he did the first time they met, and he replies that he’s had a chance to wash up. Raina, pressing him, gets him to admit that he told the story of hiding in Raina’s to only one man, whom Bluntschli trusted. But he learns from Raina that that man relayed this story to Petkoff and Sergius in the encampment. This worries Bluntschli, and Raina says that, if Sergius finds out that Bluntschli is the soldier from the story, he’ll challenge Bluntschli to a duel.
Bluntschli replies that Raina should not tell Sergius his identity. Raina is aghast at this, since it would mean her telling a lie. She says she has only lied one other time in her life, which was when she told the army officer that Bluntschli wasn’t present in her room. Bluntschli says that, in his line of work, lying is commonplace, as is people trying to save their lives. He has no trouble with Raina’s lying, which she sees as a slip in character. He believes she should keep the secret from Sergius. When Raina becomes even more indignant, Bluntschli tells her to stop acting high and mighty. This shocks Raina thoroughly. She admits that no man has ever spoken to her honestly, and without idolizing her. She says that Bluntschli doesn’t take her seriously, but he replies that he’s in fact the first man to take her seriously.
Bluntschli declares that is infatuated with Raina. She admits to leaving a picture of herself for Bluntschli in the pocket of her father’s coat that Bluntschli wore when he escaped the house. She assumed he would have seen it there. But Bluntschli did not find the picture, and Raina figures it must still be present in the pocket of the coat that Petkoff is now wearing. Bluntschli admits that he’s not sure whether the picture is there, on second thought, because he had the coat pawned during the battle before he reclaimed it. This horrifies Raina. Louka enters to deliver a letter for Bluntschli that says his father has died. Bluntschli responds with dismay only at all the affairs that must be sorted out, since, Bluntschli realizes, his father was manager of far more hotels than he thought initially. Bluntschli leaves to begin planning his departure. Raina departs, and Nicola enters, finding Louka alone.
Bluntschli has an incredible knowledge of warcraft. The nature of how to fight wars is a recurring topic in the play. Characters wonder whether being a good soldier, for example, entails being a hero or being valiant in the face of danger. Bluntschli upends that paradigm. He is someone who understands military tactics better than anyone. He views this calling as a trade, rather than as an exalted, romantic position demanding the utmost of him unto death. What makes Bluntschli a good soldier is his ability to use practicality, reason, and large amounts of information instead of getting caught up in ego or inflated pride.
Sergius, of course, is the opposite. Although he did in fact lead the successful cavalry charge, Sergius and his soldiers would have been killed had the Serbs’ machine guns not malfunctioned. It was only by chance that the guns did not fire and slaughter the Bulgarians. Sergius goes on to prove his incompetence by failing to earn a promotion, despite his fame for the charge. This causes Sergius to resign his prized military commission. By contrast, Bluntschli, who does not care much for the trappings of war and state like officers’ titles, manages to keep his military commission. Bluntschli helps Petkoff when he is in need by using his reason and patience on a set of maps and troop guides.
This same level-headedness is at play when Bluntschli tells Raina how she should deal with her family and with Sergius, regarding that first night in her bedroom. In short, Bluntschli tells her to lie, because a lie would be much easier for everyone. Raina at first protests, saying she never lies, but then realizes that Bluntschli knows she is an adept liar, than she can manipulate settings to get what she wants from people. The very fact that Bluntschli is the first to realize this truth about Raina causes her to fall more deeply in love with him, even though, in a sense, it is the farthest thing from classic romance. It is indeed a realization that Raina is only a human being and that she has desires like anyone else. This of course is Bluntschli’s belief: that soldiers, too, have desires, foremost among them being the desire to stay alive in battles where a great many must perish. Bluntschli, in short, believes that certain circumstances call for lying, if the lie is in the service of some greater good, either personal or social. Here Shaw continues to test the line between truth and falsehood. In getting Raina to admit that she is sometimes false in order to receive what she wants from people, Bluntschli arrives at something true about Raina, something that seems to be true of most people. What makes Raina no longer an exalted presence is what makes her, to Bluntschli, a real person, capable of love as she is capable of error.