What is the main theme of Shaw's Arms and the Man?

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lit24 | College Teacher | (Level 3) Valedictorian

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Shaw's title of his play, Arms and the Man is taken from the opening line of Virgil's epic The Aeneid  - "Of arms and the man I sing."  The play was first produced on April 21st 1894 and was a huge success. The background of the play is the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian war. Virgil's Aeneid is a military epic and glorifies war whereas Shaw's main purpose in writing the play was to criticize the romantic notions associated with war.  This is emphatically revealed in Act I when Bluntschli tells the scared Raina,

What use are cartridges in battle ? I always carry chocolate instead ;

Shaw's satire against war proved very prophetic when  the First World War broke out in 1914. It was only then that the British were cured of their romantic notions of war.

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