Shaw in "Arms and the Man" tries to show the contrast between romantic and realistic visions of love and war through the way his characters react to the situations in which they are placed.
At the start of the play, Raina Petkoff and her mother, Catherine, possess romantic notions about love and war, which have been adopted from literature and their own imaginings about how the war between Serbia and Bulgaria is being conducted. With the intrusion of Captain Bluntschli, Raina begins to learn more about the reality of war and grows to understand that it is not like the romantic stories on which she has been raised. As the play develops, Sergius also realizes the degree to which he has been trapped by a romantic vision of love and war, and he begins to understand that he really does not want the things in life that romantic literature holds as ideals.
As viewers, we are persuaded in much the same way as the characters by the contrast between the realities of war and love and the images that were part of the romantic literary heritage. One of the most persuasive arguments comes in Captain Bluntschli's debunking of the glamorous image of the cavalry charge, in which he points out that it is not brave but stupid. Louka and Nicola model pragmatic visions of romance, which involve shared interests, goals, and practical lives rather than dramatic statements of passion.