George Bernard Shaw

Arms and the Man

A humorous examination of human hypocrisy and war’s stupidity in the midst of the Serbo-Bulgarian war.

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In the middle of the 1885 Serbo-Bulgarian war, an enemy soldier escapes a cavalry charge by climbing up a drainpipe into Raina Petkoff’s room. Raina is the daughter of one Major and engaged to another, but she chooses to save the soldier’s life by concealing him.

Arms and the Man, named after the opening lines of Virgil’s The Aeneid, is a play that humorously deals with the hypocrisy of humanity and the stupidity of war. It was among George Bernard Shaw’s first commercial successes, and was included in a collection of plays he referred to as Plays Pleasant, along with Candida, You Never Can Tell, and The Man of Destiny. Having coined the term “chocolate soldier,” the play has been staged multiple times in London’s West End and on Broadway, and has been adapted into operetta and film.