Act One Part-I Detailed Summary of "Arms and the Man" by George Bernard Shaw


The scene opens in Bulgaria in the year 1885. It is a lady's bedroom. The description of the room shows the well to do family status:

"the ornamental textile fabrics in the room are oriental and gorgeous: the paper on the walls is occidental and paltry."

There is Raina standing in the balcony, "intensely conscious of the romantic beauty of the night, and of the fact that her own youth and beauty is a part of it", is gazing at the snowy Balkans. Catherine, her mother, interrupts her. She wants her to rest in the bed lest she might catch cold. She tells her that there has been a battle and their army has defeated the enemy. Sergius is the hero of the battle whom her daughter has to be married. Her mother tells her:

"Oh, if you have a drop of Bulgarian blood in your veins, you will worship him when he comes back."

Raina tells her mother that while Sergius was leaving for the front:

"I wondered whether all his heroic qualities and his soldiership might not prove mere imagination when he went into a real battle."

She is really very excited and happy over the victory: "Sergius is just as splendid and noble as he looks".

The enters Louka, the maid. She is: "a handsome, proud girl in a pretty Bulgarian peasant's dress with double apron, so defiant that her servility to Raina is almost insolent." She tells the announcement that the Servians are being chased inside the city so the doors be closed and windows be shut. At this, Raina seems disturbed: "I wish our people were not so cruel. What glory is there in killing wretched fugitives?" Louka shuts the windows of the balcony. Catherine leaves the room and asks her to keep the shutters of the windows down whereas Louka , secretly to Rains, shows that there is no bolt to the windows shutters so Rains may open the window whenever she likes.

When all are gone, she holds the picture of Sergius in her hands with great love and affection: "She does not kiss it or press it to her breast, or shew it any mark of bodily affection; but she takes it in her hands and elevates it like a priestess." She utters in extreme sentimental tone: "I shall never be unworthy of you any more, my hero-never, never, never." Suddenly, there is the sound of a distant fire. Then silence and the shutters of her balcony's windows open, a man enters and the shutters close again. The man lights the match. She asks who it is.




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