1/27/2019

"Arms and The Man" : It's comic Elements.

7.  Comment on the comic elements in Arms and the Man.      Ans.  Arms and the Man is full of comic elements. The comedy in the play arises from a perception of the incongruities of life, from the writer’r awareness of the discrepancy between what is and what ought to be. In the play we find major three sources of comedy---the comedy of situation, the comedy of character and an abundance of wit.    Some situations in the play are marked by irony and so they cause laughter. We find such a comic situation when Louka sees a pistol lying on the ottoman in Raina’s bedroom. Seeing the pistol, Louka becomes sure of the presence of a refugee in the room.Here the irony lies in the fact that though Louka sees the pistol, Raina even does not know that there is a pistol on the sofa let alone Louka has seen it. We have another embarrassing but comic situation when Bluntschli pays his second visit to the Petkoff family to return the old coat. He meets Catherine in the garden. She fears that if the secret that she and Raina had given him shelter at midnight at Raina’s bedroom, the consequences will be terrible. So she tells him to leave the house at once. But what actually happens is just the opposite. Major Petkoff has seen him through the window of his library. He comes to the garden followed by Sergius. Both Petkiff and Sergius greet him heartily.    Again the coat-episode of the play is rich in comedy. Bluntschli takes shelter in Raina’s bedroom for the whole night.In the morning he is given the old coat of Petkoff to leave the house in disguise. When he is given the coat, Raina intentionally puts her photograph in one of the pockets of the coat. But Bluntschli is so unromantic that he does not look at the photo. He returns the coat after the end of the war. Petkoff does not find the coat in the blue closet where it was usually placed. When Catherine sends Nicola to bring the coat, he finds it there. It is a comic situation. Another comic situation is that Petkoff notices Raina’s photograph with the inscription: “Raina to her Chocolate Cream Soldier: a Souvenir,” in the pocket of the coat. Raina removes the photo while helping her father in wearing the coat. Petkoff does not know it. He finally tries to find out the photo searching his one pocket after another, but fails. He also thinks that Sergius is the chocolate cream soldier. This is certainly an amusing situation.    Major Petkoff and Sergius are, to some extent, comic characters. Petkoff’s ideas on the subject of a daily bath are quite amusing. He is conservative in his outlook that a daily bath is not good for health. He is in favour of taking a bath once a week. He says that his father never had a bath in his life and he was the healthiest man in Bulgaria and lived up to the age of 98 years.    Sergius too appears as a comic figure when Bluntschli describes his cavalry charge against a battery of machine guns. Bluntschli says that Sergius led the vavalry charge like an utter fool. He tries to show his bravery without realising that if the Serbians had the right kind of ammunition, the Bulgarians could be massacred. While advancing towards the artillery, Sergius looked like a romantic hero of an opera. In leading the cavalry charge he acts like Don Quixote who attacked the windmill mistaking it for a giant. Sergius also appears as a comic figure when he makes amorous advances towards the maid-servant being an apostle of ‘higher love.’    We find an abundance of wit in he play, which produces laughter. When Petkoff asks for Catherine’s help to keep discipline among the soldiers, Bluntschli wittily says, “What an army! They make cannons out of cherry trees; and the officers send their wives to keep discipline.” The cowardice of soldiers is wittily expressed by Sergius when he says, “Soldiering is the coward’s art of attacking mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of harm’s way when you are weak.” When Catherine warns her daughter that if the secret of giving Bluntschli shelter is disclosed, Sergius may break off of his engagement with Raina, she wittily says that “I sometimes wish you could marry him instead of me. You would just suit him. You would pet him, and spoil him, and mother him to perfection.”    In Arms and the Man comedy also results from the vanity and snobbery of Raina and Catherine. Raina boasts that she belongs to the Petkoffs which is the richest and best known family in Bulgaria. She is also proud of their library which, she says, is the only one in Bulgaria. She also says that they go to Bucharest every year for the opera season. Similarly Catherine takes pride in their having an electric bell. She also puts on tea-gown on all occasions to imitate Viennese lady.    Thus Arms and the Man is a hilarious comedy which provides us amusement from the beginning to the end. The comic elements of the play are found in the irony of situations, comic characters and witty remarks.


  Arms and the Man is full of comic elements. The comedy in the play arises from a perception of the incongruities of life, from the writer’r awareness of the discrepancy between what is and what ought to be. In the play we find major three sources of comedy---the comedy of situation, the comedy of character and an abundance of wit.

Some situations in the play are marked by irony and so they cause laughter. We find such a comic situation when Louka sees a pistol lying on the ottoman in Raina’s bedroom. Seeing the pistol, Louka becomes sure of the presence of a refugee in the room.Here the irony lies in the fact that though Louka sees the pistol, Raina even does not know that there is a pistol on the sofa let alone Louka has seen it. We have another embarrassing but comic situation when Bluntschli pays his second visit to the Petkoff family to return the old coat. He meets Catherine in the garden. She fears that if the secret that she and Raina had given him shelter at midnight at Raina’s bedroom, the consequences will be terrible. So she tells him to leave the house at once. But what actually happens is just the opposite. Major Petkoff has seen him through the window of his library. He comes to the garden followed by Sergius. Both Petkiff and Sergius greet him heartily.

Again the coat-episode of the play is rich in comedy. Bluntschli takes shelter in Raina’s bedroom for the whole night.In the morning he is given the old coat of Petkoff to leave the house in disguise. When he is given the coat, Raina intentionally puts her photograph in one of the pockets of the coat. But Bluntschli is so unromantic that he does not look at the photo. He returns the coat after the end of the war. Petkoff does not find the coat in the blue closet where it was usually placed. When Catherine sends Nicola to bring the coat, he finds it there. It is a comic situation. Another comic situation is that Petkoff notices Raina’s photograph with the inscription: “Raina to her Chocolate Cream Soldier: a Souvenir,” in the pocket of the coat. Raina removes the photo while helping her father in wearing the coat. Petkoff does not know it. He finally tries to find out the photo searching his one pocket after another, but fails. He also thinks that Sergius is the chocolate cream soldier. This is certainly an amusing situation.


Major Petkoff and Sergius are, to some extent, comic characters. Petkoff’s ideas on the subject of a daily bath are quite amusing. He is conservative in his outlook that a daily bath is not good for health. He is in favour of taking a bath once a week. He says that his father never had a bath in his life and he was the healthiest man in Bulgaria and lived up to the age of 98 years.

Sergius too appears as a comic figure when Bluntschli describes his cavalry charge against a battery of machine guns. Bluntschli says that Sergius led the vavalry charge like an utter fool. He tries to show his bravery without realising that if the Serbians had the right kind of ammunition, the Bulgarians could be massacred. While advancing towards the artillery, Sergius looked like a romantic hero of an opera. In leading the cavalry charge he acts like Don Quixote who attacked the windmill mistaking it for a giant. Sergius also appears as a comic figure when he makes amorous advances towards the maid-servant being an apostle of ‘higher love.’

We find an abundance of wit in he play, which produces laughter. When Petkoff asks for Catherine’s help to keep discipline among the soldiers, Bluntschli wittily says, “What an army! They make cannons out of cherry trees; and the officers send their wives to keep discipline.” The cowardice of soldiers is wittily expressed by Sergius when he says, “Soldiering is the coward’s art of attacking mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of harm’s way when you are weak.” When Catherine warns her daughter that if the secret of giving Bluntschli shelter is disclosed, Sergius may break off of his engagement with Raina, she wittily says that “I sometimes wish you could marry him instead of me. You would just suit him. You would pet him, and spoil him, and mother him to perfection.”



In Arms and the Man comedy also results from the vanity and snobbery of Raina and Catherine. Raina boasts that she belongs to the Petkoffs which is the richest and best known family in Bulgaria. She is also proud of their library which, she says, is the only one in Bulgaria. She also says that they go to Bucharest every year for the opera season. Similarly Catherine takes pride in their having an electric bell. She also puts on tea-gown on all occasions to imitate Viennese lady.

Thus Arms and the Man is a hilarious comedy which provides us amusement from the beginning to the end. The comic elements of the play are found in the irony of situations, comic characters and witty remarks.

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