What is Byronism in Arms and The Man?
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Byronism is seen in the character of Major Saranoff, who is a shining example of Raina and her mother’s romanticized image of a hero. Sergius is often referred to as the Byronic hero or as the Hamlet of this play because he has an underlying despair about life. He clings to his idealized image of himself because he is afraid to find out who he really is. He knows that he is a different person with Raina than he is with Louka, and Louka has pointed out his hypocritical behaviors to him. Sergius realizes that there must be more to himself than the idealized soldier the young ladies worship, but of the other selves that he has observed in himself he says: “One of them is a hero, another a buffoon, another a humbug, another perhaps a bit of a blackguard.” He is disconcerted by the feeling that “everything I think is mocked by everything I do.” In losing Raina and declaring his love for Louka, Sergius is freed to be himself and to discover his own values. He is almost a fool in his attempt to live up to this image, especially in battle, for it is hopeless to try to embody a myth. Shaw uses this character to satirize these romanticized ideals.
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