How does Shaw in "Arms and the Man" reconsider romance and heroism in the light of realism?  

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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.

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The real hero of the play is not the seemingly dashing Serguis, the "heroic" military leader with whom Raina initially believes she is in love. Instead, it is the mercenary soldier Bluntschli, who deserts the army to save himself and hides out in Raina's bedroom. He would conventionally be seen as a cowardly anti-hero, but this play reverses expectation and Bluntschli becomes the hero and moral center of the play. Conventional romance and heroism are exposed as shams covering a more sordid reality. The conventionalized romantic love Raina and Sergius express for each other has no depth, as illustrated by Sergius's wooing of Raina's servant on the side. Likewise, Serguis is not the mythic, heroic commander but, in reality, an incompetent blunderer. The honest, pragmatic, and realistic Bluntschli is the one who wins Raina's heart and undermines "heroism" by exposing the messy, unromantic underside of warfare.

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