The Character of Captain Bluntschli in Shaw’s play “Arms and the Man”

The most interesting and fascinating character in ‘Arms and the Man’ is Bluntschli. He is the central character of the play and he keeps the plot moving. “He is a masterpiece of comic characterization and the source of fun and humor in the play.” He is the mouthpiece of shaw as well as a typical Shavian hero.

Bluntschli is a professional soldier who fights not for patriotism but for money. Being a professional soldier he has the habit of seeing everything from a professional point of view. He is a staunch realist and has no romantic illusion regarding love and war. According to him, there is no such thing as heroism. He believes that it is the duty of a soldier to live as long as he can. It is for this reason he flies from the field and enters into Raina’s bed-chamber to save himself.

His realism is based on the experience and observation of life. As a practical man, he faces facts, text things as they are. His views are established on sound reasoning. But Bluntschli is not void of romanticism. He has are, “incurably romantic disposition” and he is a romantic idiot’. It is because of his romantic disposition he ran away twice from home when he was a boy, joined the army instead of his father’s business and climbed the balcony of the house when a man of sense would have dived into a cellar. He could have sent back the coat but he came back sneaking to have another look at the lady.

Like a typical Shavian hero, he is anti-romantic, anti-conventional and rational and logical in his views. He has penetrating insight and superior understanding. He has his own views on love, war and soldiering. His arguments are forcible and convincing. He is a man not of heroic but of commonplace courage. Bluntschli is a hero not because he faces bullets but because he faces facts. He is a self-acting man who acts upon instinct and not according to social codes and invention.

Like a Shavian hero neither a coward nor one to be carried away by sensual indulgence. He is hard-working, sincere and when he takes up a work he does it wholeheartedly and to the best of his ability. He has more than average vitality. It is also noted that his business like habit seems to have dried up in him the tender human emotion. Though he has the sentiments he never indulges in pursuing them. He is also a shrewd judge of human nature. His cleverness is acknowledged by everyone comes in contact with.

Bluntschli is an anti-hero. He would not like to put his life into danger for nothing or to take a needless risk. But he is not to be considered as a coward. He never surrenders himself to the situation whatever brave it may appear. Bluntschli never hesitates to fight a duel when Sergius asks for. He is the mouthpiece of Shaw. Through him, Shaw expresses his own ideas regarding love and war. He is short is the representative of average humanity, he is what Shaw would like a man to be. He represents a step forward to the evolution of Shavian superman.

But he is a true romantic. He loves Raina but he makes her conscious of her pretenses and shams. He frankly tells about her sham of love for Sergius. There is a gradual development of love between Raina and Bluntschly. In spite of her romantic temperament, Raina is intelligent; she is wrapped up in illusions, but when she sees the horrors of war through the condition of Bluntschli, she faces the reality of war. Bluntschli is attracted to her for her noble attitude and thrilling voice. His second visit to Raina’s house is prompted by his desire to see Raina. He frankly declares his passion for Raina. This love is not sentimental, it grows out of an understanding of the two. He rouses the latent rationalism of Raina and educates her by curing her of her sloppy sentimentalism.

Bluntschli is a shrewd judge of human character and correctly interprets human motives and actions. He understands the characters of Nicola and calls him the best man in Bulgaria. He is clear-eyed in all things, even love not excepted. He is a perfect humorist and much of the wit of the play is derived from him. He is also a fine talker and a master of expressive phrases and epigrams. Nicola, the servant pays a compliment to him when he says,

“The Swiss is no fool, he isn’t”. Even Sergius, his beaten rival, expresses his admiration of Bluntschli, “What a man! Is he a man?”

A C. Word puts “To call Bluntschli, a great character would be extravagant, he is, however, a tenacious comic figure who is safe for a permanent place in the national gallery of stage characters. His freedom from romantic illusions might have made him seem a dull dog or a pompous prig, but he has a saving grace of whirlwind exuberance, which carries. him invigoratingly through the play…”


Also read: “Arms and the Man: as an anti-romantic comedy