How does Shaw ridicule love and war in "Arms and the Man"?

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How does Shaw ridicule love and war in “Arms and the Man”?

Ans.: G. B. Shaw has labeled his play Arms and the Man as an “anti-romantic comedy”. To Shaw romance stands for untruth. He wrote this play at a time when people in England were fond of an exaggerated form of romanticism in comedies. Shaw’s term ‘anti-romantic comedy’ succeeds in registering a protest against the much exalted notion of love and war that people have cherished for long. In Arms and the Man, Shaw has represented love and war from an anti-romantic point of view so as to mow down the romantic conceptions of love and war.

For centuries, gallantry in war was considered to be one of the greatest distinctions that a man can achieve. People thought that soldiers go in a war obsessed with sense of patriotism and heroism. But Shaw unfolds with cruel disposition of war.  

This anti-romantic comedy begins in a romantic way. The heroine of the play Raina is in a reverie thinking that ‘her youth and beauty’ are the part of the romantic star-studded night, which she watches’ she is forgetful of the fact that an intense war is going on outside her bed-chamber. Her mind is engulfed with the romantic thoughts of her hero Sergius. Raina and her Catherine are equally enthralled by the news that Sergius, the epitome of Raina’s ‘higher love’ has become the hero of the war, by leading a successful cavalry charge against the enemies.

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But with the entrance of Bluntschli, a middle aged man, mundane looking soldier, we come to know the other side of heroism. Bluntschli has run away form the battle field which Raina’s ‘Byronic hero’ Sergius has won. From Bluntschli Raina come to know that her lover has carried a ‘Quixotic work’ by attacking his enemy recklessly for which he ought to be court-martialled.

Raina has long nourished romantic views of war. Her ideas of war are further shattered into pieces as she discovers with astonishment that even a soldier who is supposed to be invincible, can flee ...

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