What are the themes discussed by George Bernard Shaw in Arms and the Man?

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sagetrieb eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Shaw is also satirizing traditional notions of masculinity in this play and capitalism, too.  He suggests that war, capitalism, and sexism are all linked, all defining each each other.  Capitalism makes possible the machines of war, war turns boys into men, men find meaning about who they are by the wars they fight.  Shaw was a pacifist and a Fabian, which is a kind of socialist.  He was very interested in women's rights, and in understanding the roles of women he began to dramatize how notions of gender depend on other institutions in our culture.  In his play Mrs. Warren's Profession, for example, he explored how prostitution depended upon capitalism and restricted opportunities for women.

renelane eNotes educator| Certified Educator

One of the themes is the romanticism of war. Shaw satirizes the romantic ideas of war that seem to help glorify such a grim event. Because Bernard Shaw uses a comic tone, it is important to realize the horrific situation that the soldier had just endured. It seems as if he is trying to dispel the idea of the "hero" of war.