In what sense can Arms and The Man by Shaw be called an anti-romantic comedy?

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shakespeare1986 | College Teacher | (Level 1) eNoter

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Shaw calls the play an "Anti- Romantic Comedy". The term romantic, according to Shaw, meant untruth. Romance refers to a kind of fiction, which did not concern itself with real life; it gave greater importance to idealization. One of Shaw's aims in this play is to debunk the romantic heroics of war; he wanted to present a realistic account of war and to remove all pretensions of nobility from war. It is not, however, an anti-war play; instead, it is a satire on those attitudes which would glorify war. To create this satire, Shaw chose as his title the opening lines of Virgil's Aeneid, the Roman epic which glorifies war and the heroic feats of man in war, and which begins, "Of arms and the man I sing. . ". Moreover, he tries to remove romantic notions of love as well which can lead to unhappy marriages. This is presented through comic situations and incidents that arouse laughter, e.g. watching Bluntchli sleeping like a baby in Raina's bed and knowing that he is carrying chocolates instead of bullets in his cartridge. but we have to notice that  "Arms and the Man" is not a farce, a true comedy. Though there are a lot of farcical, loud, laughter in the play,  it has a serious purpose and this way it makes a difference from a farce.







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