Shaw's Arms and the Man

Shaw’s Arms and the Man First Created My Concept Of Romance

Dramatic Diction Home George Bernard Shaw
Shaw's Arms and the Man
Image by Eugenio Hansen, OFS from Pixabay / Shaw’s Arms and the Man

Romance is one of the prime potent factors in human life. As a reader, I first explored this fact in me after culminating the words in Shaw’s Arms and the Man.

The advent of youth unlocked new curiosities regarding human relationships in my mind. However, gathering proper answers to address the query took a lot of work. As a learner, I preferred to read my favorite authors’ writings to define my feelings. Shaw’s play Arms and the Man was the first to respond to that curious notion.

Love is an irresistible urge in men and women. And anybody who tries to go against it ultimately gets conquered by it. Two prime characters in Shaw‘s play, Raina and Bluntschli, are the best to define this truth.

Critics may not give consent to this notion. They prefer to see the story from a different point of view. I heard how many literary experts pinpointed how Shaw’s Arms and the Man condemns the unnecessary exaggeration of love.

According to them, the playwright has depicted how people sometimes prefer romantic glorification to indicate something more than love. They question how, in reality, liking or fondness for a person can be measured as something more or less. In a word, they mean that the author makes a clear and sharp indication that any sentimental passion cannot get the definition of love. In reality, it is “love of love.”

However, my tender youth took the words in a bit different way. For the first time, I discovered a prominent meaning of warmth or strong affection after reading Shaw’s play. For the first time, my curious notion preferred to define passion with sentiment and liking as romance. And I chose to call it romantic love.

Moreover, my first familiarity with a character like Raina, the heroine in Shaw’s Arms and the Man, unfolded my imagination with a new set of feelings and queries. The famous play molded my thoughts with new concepts. And, without any doubt, my present-day thinking is the aftermath of that conception.

Raina is a common yet uncommon female character who is a follower of higher love. Nevertheless, to me, it is romantic love. The lady resides in a romanticized world shaped by her passionate imagination.

Words of Pushkin and Byron are the sole ingredient to shape and enrich her imagination. Instead of physical love, she desires to worship her lover, Sergius.

The beginning part of the play shows Raina adores Sergius’s portrait as her hero is away to attend the battlefield. However, her adoration includes no evidence of bodily passion. She never kisses the picture and does not hold it tightly on her breast. Instead, she prefers to bestow the most adorable words on him.

Shaw’s words portraying Raina’s affection unlock a sense of living in an imaginative world. It appears in the first part of the play that she learns to live and love or romance in a created world. Furthermore, her surroundings make her live with an imaginary entity instead of living the embodiment of human passion.

Also, my first interaction with this beginning part of the play created an affinity for the said kind of affection. However, Raina’s encounter with one of the prime male characters Bluntschli, an unconventional soldier, prevented my rational feeling from stepping into a mere hypothetical world of love.

The gradual unfolding of Bluntschli’s nature shatters my delusion about the concept of romance that the heroine portrayed in the shape of an imaginative entity. I landed on reality when I heard the conversation between Raina and the unconventional, hungry soldier.

My sense of reality began to get restored when the heroine’s illusion started getting evaporated. Her admiration for Bluntschli gradually ripened into romantic love. At the same time, her delusion about her imaginary love towards Sergius began getting erased.

Her passionate human sense compelled her to feed the tired, hungry soldier with chocolate. She became desperate to save the bespattered soldier’s life. Even she gifted her photograph to him as a souvenir. In truth, from this point, I started forming my first proper concept of romance.

George Bernard Shaw’s portrayal of characters sent a clear message to my rational curiosity that ‘love’ or romance is a reality in human relationships. And, in the real world, no parameter can measure how glorifying or degrading it is. Also, exaggerating it with sweet words cannot provide any extra importance to it. There is only one thing either you love or do not love.

This fact even looks more prominent when the play reveals how Sergius prefers to expunge his illusionary set of mind on love. War Front snatches his preference of identifying romance as a part of a worshipping element. He returns home as a resentful cynic.

His human sense unshackles his natural desire to accept material love. And, taking maidservant Louka instead of Raina as wife at the end of the play is the final aftermath of that passionate affection.  

In truth, my understanding of ‘what love is actually’ became more transparent when the heroine called the Bluntschli “Chocolate cream soldier” in Act II of the play. Even today, her heartfelt addressing of the sincerity of an intelligent and unconventional man symbolizes that irresistible urge to admire someone unlocks interest in him.

From my understanding, Shaw is not against love. The playwright is keen to choose real love. Criticism may define him as anti-romantic. However, Shaw’s Arms and the Man does not feed that negative version.

From an actual point of view, the author teaches me to maintain distance from any disillusionment. He points out that living in the real world is much better than dwelling in an imaginary, illusioned world.

My present concept of romance is the gradual aftermath of the previous understanding gathered from the play. Even today, Shaw’s Arms and the Man remains the first, and one of the leading noted sources behind that moderate molding. Reading this famous play even today unfolds my curious mind and sets my feelings free with new enthusiasm.   

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