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MonkeyNotes-Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw
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Scene Summaries With Notes

Act 1

Summary

The setting is a lady's bedchamber in a small town in Bulgaria. It is Raina's room and as the curtain rises we see her on the balcony admiring the beauty of the snow-clad peaks on a starlit night in November. The decor is "half rich Bulgarian, half cheap Viennese". All the ornamental fabrics in the room are oriental and gorgeous and in contrast the western wallpaper is shabby. On the chest of drawers are nick knacks including a box of chocolate cream and a miniature easel with a large photograph of a handsome officer. While Raina is admiring the beautiful landscape, her mother brings her the exciting news that Sergius, her lover, has led the Bulgarian army to a glorious victory. Sergius is now "The hero of the howl" according to the news sent by Major Petkoff. Catherine, Raina's mother, enthusiastically tells her "He defied our Russian commanders -- acted without orders -- led a charge on his own responsibility -- headed it himself -- was the first man to sweep through their guns." Raina feels gratified that her ideas about Sergius' heroism and patriotism have come true. She had wondered what kind of figure he would cut beside the Russian officers. Catherine asks Louka to shut all the windows. Serbs were being chased through the pass and they may run through the town and there may be shooting. Raina asks her to keep the shutters of the balcony open and promises to bolt them as soon as she heard any commotion. Louka reports that one of the bolts has gone.


Catherine and Louka leave. Raina admires her lover's portrait and goes to bed with a novel. She hears gunshots, rushes to blow out the candles on the chest of drawers as well as on the dressing table and goes back to bed. There is firing close by. The shutter opens and a figure enters bolting the shutter behind him. She can hear him panting. Raina asks "Who's there ? Who is that ?" A voice cautions her to be silent or else his revolver may go off. At his command she lights a candle. She sees a man of 35 "in deplorable plight, bespattered with mud and blood and snow ...." He appears to be a Serbian officer. He warns her that if the officers followed him to the room he would be killed and he does not intend to be killed. He tells her that in her present state of undress it would be inappropriate if the soldiers came in. She reaches for her cloak but he grabs it before she can. The possession of her cloak can safeguard him better than his revolver so he flings it on the ottoman.

They hear shooting followed by voices insisting on entering the house to look for a fugitive. Louka knocks on Raina's door. The fugitive quickly flings her cloak to her, relieved she hides him behind the curtains and opens the door. Catherine has also come in to check if Raina is safe. She has found a Russian officer who will check Raina's room. The officer comes in and after being assured that no fugitive is hiding there, he apologizes and leaves. Raina advises Louka not to leave her mother. Louka has seen the revolver on the ottoman and her glances tell Raina that she knows her secret.

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