Arms and the Man: Character Profiles
Captain Bluntschli is called “the chocolate-cream soldier” by Raina because he begs chocolates from her when he is a hungry refugee. He does not act like a hero and admits to carrying chocolates instead of ammunition on the battlefield. He is thirty-five, a seasoned professional soldier, who fights on whichever side pays him. Bluntschli is blunt and honest, a Swiss whose father is a rich hotel owner. Bluntschli inherits his father’s wealth, which is considerably more than the Bulgarian landowners make. Major Petkoff thinks he must be the Emperor of Switzerland. Bluntschli is humble, and though attracted to Raina, does not pursue her. She has to pursue him. Everyone ends up liking Bluntschli, even his Bulgarian enemies whom he bests at horsetrading, because he is competent and liberal minded. He is temperamentally cool and impartial, the only one who knows how to get the Bulgarian cavalry home, and he is the one who clears the air by speaking his mind on every topic. In the end he admits he is something of a romantic too because he ran away from home to join the army and see the world.
Louka is the earthy and spirited maidservant of the Petkoffs. She is rebellious, proud, and insolent to Raina whom she sees through. She is Raina’s rival for Sergius. Louka smokes cigarettes and flirts with Sergius under the noses of the family, though Nicola warns her she will be fired. She claims she will never have the soul of a servant. She is witty and intelligent, knowing how to manage Sergius so that he proposes to her. Louka is the main voice for the equality of the classes in the play, claiming that she has a right to marry whomever she loves. She predicts Raina will marry Bluntschi and convinces Sergius he should defy public opinion to marry her.
Nicola is the manservant of the Petkoffs. He is a middle-aged man, controlled and calm, and calculating. He puts up with the abuse of his superiors and knows how to play the servant who takes the blame for everything, while pocketing the tips from his masters for keeping their secrets. Louka accuses him of having the soul of a servant. He accepts class distinctions, though his plan is to earn enough money to open a shop in Sofia. He is engaged to Louka in the beginning, but when she refuses him and goes after Sergius, he helps her with advice and promotes he to the family. Bluntschli calls him the ablest man in Bulgaria and thinks of giving him a Swiss hotel to manage.
Catherine is the imperious and handsome mother of Raina and the wife of Major Petkoff. She runs her household energetically and ably, with a strong ruling will and definite ideas about upholding her position as an aristocrat. She is outraged by peace, believing her country should annex Serbia. Catherine scolds and connives to get her way. She tries to control situations and hide things from her husband, such as getting rid of Bluntschli before Petkoff finds out how she hid the refugee and loaned him her husband’s coat. Catherine is proud of their position and wants to be modern and up to date, for instance, with the electric bell to ring for the servants. She dresses in a morning gown at all times as though expecting company, yet betrays her country habits, such as drying the wash on the bushes.
Major Paul Petkoff
Major Petkoff is a genial man of fifty, in the Bulgarian cavalry. He seems an able man of sense, comfortable with his life as a Bulgarian aristocrat. His daughter and wife love him but tend to run over him when they want their own way. He is lenient, though strict in his ideas of what is right. He is shocked by his daughter’s behavior of running after another man when she is engaged. He makes friends in spite of himself with Bluntschli, who fought for the enemy, because he is capable, seeking his help to send the troops home. Unlike his wife, Petkoff does not want to modernize and change with the times.
Raina Petkoff is the beautiful daughter of the Bulgarian landowner, Major Petkoff. She is twenty-three and engaged to marry Sergius Saranoff, a young nobleman in the Serbo-Bulgarian cavalry. Waiting at home with her mother and the servants, she reads romantic novels and imagines herself as a heroine. She is something of an actress with a thrilling voice. A spoiled only child, Raina is a day-dreamer desirous of adventure and romance. She is surprised to find herself attracted to the enemy, the professional soldier, Captain Bluntschli, whom she saves from her own people and talks her mother into helping. She falls in love with him and pursues him, because he is able to see through her and is not intimidated by her theatrics.
Sergius is the handsome fiancé of Raina, a romantic like she is, attempting to act the part of a knight in modern warfare. He makes a fool of himself at the Battle of Slivnitza by leading a cavalry charge into a line of cannons, but fortunately they did not have the right ammunition, and he won the day. Because everyone laughed, and he did not get promoted, he quits the military in a self-righteous huff. He tires of playing the ideal love with Raina, and begins flirting with Louka, to whom he is attracted. He claims he is five or six different personalities and does not care if he is consistent. Sergius adopts the pose of a world-weary Byronic hero of passion and self-will, setting himself against the social current. Louka is able to cash in on his rebellion by appealing to his individualism, making their marriage seem a cause that he should espouse to challenge public opinion. His pride expresses itself in absolute statements, such as, he never withdraws or backs down. Once he asks Louka to be his, he thus cannot change his mind.