Short Questions and Answers from “Arms and the Man”

Q. 1. What is the historical background of the play ‘Arms and the Man’.

Ans. ‘Arms and the Man’ is not a historical play but its background is provided by the historic war between Bulgaria and Serbia, more especially the battle of Slivnitza fought in 1885. The Bulgarians were supported by the Russian force whereas the Serbians were supported by the Austrians.

Q. 2. Discuss the source of the title.

Ans. Regarding the title of the play Show tells us that he has taken this title from Dryden’s translation of the opening lines of the Roman poet Virgil’s ‘Aenied’. In ‘Aeneid’ the phrase is Arma Virumque cano’ which means ‘Arms and the Man I sing’. Virgil in his celebrated epic sings of the glory of war and heroic valour, but Shaw reverses the process and changes the significance of the phrase. Show here exposes the illusion regarding both the glory of war and the heroism of the soldiers. Man here gets greater importance that arms. The play
is built not on pathos, but on bathos’ and this technical originality is well indicated by the title of the play.

Q. 3. “Nine soldiers out of ten are born fools”-Who is the speaker? What does he mean to say?

Ans. Bluntschli is the speaker. He says this to Raina when he hides behind the curtain to avoid the search party.
What Bluntschli means to say is that soldiers are fools and they can be easily befooled. It is for this they are easily doomed in the battlefield because in the name of patriotism they are sent. This strongly anti-romantic remark makes Raina angry but it proves true when the search party fails to find out Bluntschli behind the curtain and though the pistol remains before their eyes they miss it.

0. 4. What is the difference between the old and young soldiers. Or, “There are only two sorts of soldiers”-Explain.

Ans. To Blutschli there are two types of soldiers- the young and the old. The young ones as have no experience of war put on heroic airs. They carry cartridges in their pistol cases and.cartridges boxes. But
all their heroism will be shattered, once they have passed through the ordeal of a war. On the otherhand the old and experienced soldiers always carry food to the battlefield. They know the ins and outs of a battlefield. While the young soldiers faces the inevitable death the old ones escapes from the field because they know that killing in a battle-field is of no worth. They try to live as long as they can.

Q. 5. “Soldiering is the coward’s art”-Explain.

Ans. Sergius is very much disgusted with the codes of modern warfare. To him, the profession of a soldiers is basically the prefession of a coward. The modern warfare teaches the soldiers that they should not risk his life. They should attack the enemy when the enemy is weaker and they should not come in his way when the enemy is stronger. In such a condition, they should keep distance. This is the only way in which victory can be gained and the battle can be won. If the enemy is equally strong he should avoid fighting and he should fight when the enemy is in the corner of disadvantage. He should fight only when he is stronger than his enemy and in this way he would be successful. Shaw here satiries the romantic notions of the the glory of war and the heroism of the soldiers. War must be but glorification is needless.

0:6. What a man! Is he a man!’-Explain.

Ans. At the end of the play seeing the machine-like attitudes and activities of Bluntschli Sergivs makes this remark. Bluntschli is practical-minded man. He acts according to the codes. In these words, Sergius sums up his admiration for the man. He is a professional soldier, a shrewd man and a sincere lover. He has no illusion, no romantic false ideas. He is the real and practical man who sees the hollowness of war as well as the pretended love. He breaks the illusion of romance of Raina and brings her to the ground of reality. His solid understanding, his perfect knowledge of warfare, his business management everything draws Sergius’s wonder and he describes rightly him as a wonderful man.