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Arms and the Man Essay Sample

Class and Social issues in Arms and the Man

In the play Arms and the Man written by George Bernard Shaw, there is a strong demonstration of class distinctions. It is clearly evident that the author, a renowned socialist, harbors a lot of concern as far as class and social issues are concerned. Instead of bringing the awareness to the readers about such notions through direct mentioning, he opts for dialogue and cues to lay bare the elements within the setting. The play has a lot of relevance in the context of modern society as it shows that nothing good comes out of war.

The play was written during the Serbo-Bulgarian War of 1885. The heroine of the play, Raina, is a young beautiful Bulgarian lady engaged to one of the war heroes named Sergius Saranoff. Raina is portrayed as a lady who patiently waited for her fiancé to come home from the war thus dreamily fantasizes about Saranoff’s unique military uniform and the heroic deeds. The realities of Serbo-Bulgarian War dawned on her when a deserting enemy troop entered her bedroom in a desperate bid to escape capture. Although the end of this war culminated into a shift in political background to a more peaceful environment, there was no meaningful friendly co-existence thereafter as people realized that the new dispensation was no better than the old order.

The main themes of the play concern glorification of war, stratification of social classes and weaknesses of romanticized love. As mentioned by Smith (2011), the author has shown that core to the establishment of a just society, fundamental reforms should come from empowering individuals with education and instituting radical changes in regard to intellectual and political life as opposed to revolutionary reactions. Therefore, by writing the play, Shaw targets the false prophets of societal class. The literary piece is arguably a true call to end dominance that barricades meaningful purpose in human life by pilling up blocks to truth and justice.


Smith, N. (2011). “Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw: Class and Social Critique in the Play”. Retrieved January 07, 2011, from http://www.articlemyriad.com/51.htm