Who is the man in the title Arms and the Man?

Quick answer:

The man referred to in the title is Bluntschli. Although he deserted the battlefield, he eventually wins the hand of Raina, leading Sergius to exclaim in the last lines of the play, “What a man! What a man!”

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In the kind of irony for which Shaw was noted, the man in the title of his play Arms and the Man is someone for whom the profession of arms is not exactly fitting. The man in question is Bluntschli, a “chocolate-cream soldier” who uses his ammunition pouches to carry chocolate instead of cartridges. What's more, this is the very same man who ran away from the field of battle in a manner suggestive of cowardice.

And yet it is Bluntschli, not Sergius, the general with the reputation of a warrior hero, who finally wins the day. He wins Raina's hand, leading Sergius to exclaim in the last lines of the play, “What a man! What a man!”

In Shaw's satire, it is the pragmatic, bourgeois mercenary who comes out on top, a withering comment on a society where capitalism and its commercial values take precedence over the traditional valorization of military glory and heroism on the field of battle.

In capitalist society, it is the likes of Bluntschli who represent the prevailing notion of manhood. Most people might pay lip service to the old notions of manly virtues being exemplified by the brave soldier fighting for his country. But in actual fact, it's the commercial values embodied by Bluntschli—both as a mercenary and as a would-be shop owner—that are widely considered to be the most important.

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