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To My Chocolate Crème Soldier, With Love
Nov 02, 2008 02:11 AM 4392 Views

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Set during the four-month-long Serbo-Bulgarian War that occurred between November 1885 and March 1886, this 3 Act play is a satire on the foolishness of glorifying something so terrible as war, as well as a satire on the foolishness of basing your affections on idealistic notions of love. It was first performed at the Avenue Theatre, London on April 21, 1894. Consequently, once Shaw’s genius was recognized, Arms and the Man became one of George Bernard Shaw’s most popular plays and has remained a classic ever since. On May 16, 2006 a 104 minutes feature film was also released on the same by Warner Home Videos. Although have no clue how did the movie fare....!!


This is quite necessary before I put down the summary of the play so…


*Meet the Characters


*Captain Bluntschli (Hero): A professional soldier from Switzerland. He is roughly 35 years old. He is working as an officer for the Servian military fighting for hire against the Bulgarian army. He is worldly, cool-headed with a great sense of humor.


Raina Petkoff (Heroine): The only daughter of one of the wealthiest families in Bulgaria. Her father is a major in the Bulgarian army. She is young and beautiful and intensely conscious of that fact. She is full of romantic ideals about love, nobility, courage and beauty.


Catherine Petkoff: Raina's mother. She has a powerful and commanding presence that even her husband respects. She is a smart and capable woman over forty, who is determined to be a Viennese lady.


Major Petkoff: Raina's Father. He is a cheerful, excitable, insignificant, unpolished man of about 50, naturally unambitious except when it comes to his income and his importance in local society.


Major Sergius Saranoff: Engaged to Raina. He is dashing & handsome guy. He is observant, but what he observes constantly disappoints his romantic ideals for the world. Not even he can live up to his ideals.


Louka:Louka is a maidservant in the Petkoff household. She is beautiful & proud. She is afraid of Catherine, but even with her goes as far as she dares. She is extremely ambitious.


Nicola: Head Servant in the Petkoff household. He is a middle-aged man of cool temperament and low but clear and keen intelligence.


ACT I [ 21 Pages ]The play begins in Raina's bedroom where she is standing out on her balcony enjoying the lovely evening. Catherine, her mother, tells her of the great battle & leading the daring charge was Raina's fiancée: Major Sergius. They are informed by their maid servant, Louka to lock doors and windows lest escaping soldiers or errant bullets get in. Raina's window does not bolt, but she closes the shutter and hides from the gunfire under her covers. It is then that a Servian officer climbs in her window. During the soldier’s stay at her room, Raina befriends him and also saves him from his army when they come to search her room. Raina informs Catherine about him and they both help him sneak out safely.


My comments: The conversation between Raina and the Servian officer (Captain Bluntschli) is awesome and hilarious. I was reading this play at night alone in my room but can’t stop laughing…!! The way Bluntschli irritates Raina by saying that he carries chocolate instead of cartridges is so side-splitting. Even when Raina asks him about Sergius who was leading the Bulgarian army during battle, Bluntschli’s description of him as ‘charging like Don Quixote at the windmills’ will make you laugh even after the play is over….And how can I forget to praise the conversation between foolish mom & daughter jodi on war.



ACT II [ 23 Pages ]** In the courtyard of the Petkoff house, Nicola is lecturing Louka about her insolence towards her employers. Major Petkoff has also returned from the war and is quite happy being back home. Catherine & Major are discussing the state of the two nations and of their own social status when Sergius Saranoff arrives. Catherine also presses Major for Sergius’s promotion but Major is quite sure that it will not be very likely. Though his charge was brave, and worked, the battle was won only through luck. It was actually a foolish move that only succeeded because of a technical problem in the enemy's machine guns. Talking to Petkoff, Saranoff mentions an odd Swiss soldier they met during a prisoner exchange..(whoz none other that Servian soldier who took refuge in Raina's room). Saranoff started sharing on the soldier's great escape with Major Petkoff when Raina and Catheine both start reacting and the topic changes. Then the Major goes off to his library and Saranoff and Raina are left alone. They trade romantic endearments and mutually worship each other's qualities. Sergius also flirts with Louka. Sergius is also asked to join Major in the library for some war related work. And Bluntschli arrives (Servian Soldier)…!!!


My comments: Well the best part in this act is when Catherine is asked by her husband to request Bluntschli to stay back and she says ‘He knows my wishes’ to which Bluntschli retorts ‘I am at madam’s orders’ despite knowing what actually Catherine was hinting on!!! The conversation between Raina and Sergius…I mean the supposedly romantic conversation between them seems more on the comic lines….Raina calling Sergius ‘My Hero’…’My King’…and Sergius calling her….any guesses….ya ya right and the obvious guess…’My Queen’…hahhahahaa….Even the scene where Raina recognizes Bluntschli and screams ‘Chocolate Crème Soldier’ infront of everyone is extremely well set.



ACT III [ 30 Pages ]** This act starts with Major Petkoff, Bluntschli and Sergius are writing orders for the troops in their library. Saranoff is also feeling jealous of Bluntschli's military knowledge. Catherine and Raina are also there. Little later Raina and Bluntschli are left alone and Raina teases Bluntschli about his escape. During the conversation Raina starts opening up with Bluntschli. Bluntschli also gets information of his father’s death and the huge amount of inheritance that he is the lord off through a mail that Louka gets for him. Sergius is informed by Louka that Raina is really in love with Bluntschli and that it was Raina who helped him escape. Sergius confronts Raina on the same. Bluntschli tries to help them patch up but its just too late at the end Sergius goes to Louka and Bluntschli to Raina, ahhhh what a happy ending!!!!


My comments: This is the longest act and full of dhamaal. As you all must be aware of the bollywood comic flicks, how towards the end everything goes running & hay wire?? Same happens here. One after another, you would feel the hard hit right in your belly.


The title ‘Arms And The Man’ is apt. The English used is extremely easy. I remember sitting with the guide whenever reading any plays by Shakespeare, this was a welcome change! The play is short so definitely meant for impatient people like me and its very interesting so a must read for all the people who like books and love reading interesting stuff and its very well written, up to the point so again for the people who appreciate good writing (All MS members do. In short, recommended for all..!


Regards,


Neeru


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