How would you describe the character of Bluntschli?

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thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Captain Bluntschli in Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw is really a stand-in for the playwright, expressing many of Shaw's own ideas and attitudes.

When Captain Bluntschli first enters the room, Shaw provides a very detailed, almost novelistic description of him in the stage directions as:

. . . a man of middling stature and undistinguished appearance, with strong neck and shoulders, a roundish, obstinate looking head . . . clear quick blue eyes, a hopelessly prosaic nose, trim soldierlike carriage and energetic manner . . . with all his wits about him . . . with a sense of humor . . .

The central element of his personality that determines his role in the play is a clear-sighted pragmatism. He is a professional mercenary soldier from a family of successful businessmen. Rather than being caught up in the glory of war, he treats the military as a job, where his aim is to survive and collect his paycheck. Although decent and kindhearted, he tends to shock the conventional with his plain speaking and ability to see the realities behind many commonly accepted conventions. Despite his blunt pragmatism, he does have a romantic streak in matters of the heart, as evinced in his returning to see Raina.