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The first act is the opening scene of the play. Any opening scene is supposed to introduce some of the main characters as well as the main theme(s) of the play. Here in Shaw's Arms and the Man, we are introduced to the Petkoff household which is the place of dramatic action, and also to the romantically disposed young Petkoff daughter, Raina, who is going to be one of the majormost dramatis personae. The Serbian artillery man, Bluntschli, who secretly enters Raina's bed-chamber through the balcony, is the Shavian spokesman in the play, the professional soldier as opposed to the "hero of Slivnitza" Sergius Saranoff. We come across Raina's mother, Catherine, who informs her daughter of the sensational Bulgarian cavalry charge as led by Raina's betrothed love, Sergius, her description of the glorious victory of Sergius being soon undercut and terribly mocked at by the fugitive Serbian mercenary. The scene thus introduces both the theme of war and soldiering and the theme of romantic-sentimental love as divorced from real life. The scene ends with a newly-aroused sympathy on the part of Raina for the fugitive having fallen asleep in Raina's bed.
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