how is love and war explained in the arms and the man

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Ashley Kannan eNotes educator| Certified Educator

I tend to think that Shaw's treatment of war and love is to remove the romanticism that is so strongly attached to both concept.  Shaw was realistic enough to understand that society held cliched standards that sought to define both experiences to such a point that individuals had to second guess their own emotive narratives in both to ensure they were conforming to an external standard rooted in phony romanticism.  The romantic view of war made it out to be an experience of unquestioned glory and valor.  The fact that Bluntschii carries chocolates with him instead of bullets is an honest symbol of the fear intrinsic to war.  There is little Romanticism in a war, which is exposed as a "sham" in the work.  In much the same way, I think that Shaw treats love as an entity in which there is much romanticism and a concern about what love should be as opposed to what it is.  The hollowness between Raina and Sergius is representative of this.  Their union is one in which both are constantly plagued with expressing what should be said by lovers separated by war, even though it is evident that there is a hollowness to their words that both truly "get."  In this, there is a strong statement about what has happened to love and war in terms of social expectations controlling individual experience and feeling.  It is this treatment that Shaw seeks to address in the drama.