Shaw's play The Arms and the Man is a comedy that uses humor to present a serious critique of romantic views of marriage and warfare. The opening of the play presents the conventional ideology of the period, in which Raina and her mother think of both love and war in terms of the conventions of Victorian melodrama. Shaw undermines both the literary conventions of melodrama and the gender ideology underlying it with the intrusion of Bluntschli.
Unlike the handsome, dashing Sergius, Bluntschli is a pragmatic, middle-aged mercenary. Unlike in a conventional melodrama, where the heroine Raina would marry the romantic hero Sergius, instead Shaw reveals that this conventional marriage would be a bad idea because it is based on romantic illusion rather than enduring understanding and compatibility. Similarly, Nicola and Louka would be a conventional pairing of two servants. Instead, what we discover is that Sergius and Louka are genuinely compatible, Nicola prefers to be a successful shopkeeper to marrying Louka, and Bluntschli is the best match for Raina.
This suggests that we should abandon class prejudice and romantic ideals in thinking about marriage and instead favor either intellectual and emotional compatibility or practical motivations in choosing partners.