Arms and the Man: Top Ten Quotes
“It proves that all our ideas were real after all”
(Act I, p. 3)
Raina says this to her mother on hearing that her fiancé, Sergius, led a cavalry charge that won the battle at Slivitzna. She means that his victory confirms their romantic ideals that come from the stories they had read in books, about how a noble love can inspire great deeds.
“It is our duty to live as long as we can.”
(Act I, p. 7)
The enemy fugitive Bluntschli is in Raina’s bedroom. She is contemptuous of him because he wants to live and seems afraid to die, unlike her heroic Sergius. Bluntschli explains from his practical point of view, that contrary to what she may have heard, it is a soldier’s duty to stay alive.
“Soldiering, my dear madam, is the coward’s art of attacking mercilessly when you are strong, and keeping out of harm’s way when you are weak.”
(Act II, p. 29)
Sergius has resigned from the military even though he won the battle by accident. He is disillusioned that it is not, after all, like chivalry. He thinks war should be a fair fight between equals, like the knights of old, instead of the nasty modern business of opportunism.
“I think we two have found the higher love.”
(Act II, p. 31)
Raina says this to Sergius in the garden after he returns from war. They speak adoringly to one another, as knight and lady, but in spite of their rhetoric, both are secretly attracted to other more earthy mates.
“. . . now I’ve found out that whatever clay I’m made of, you’re made of the same.”
(Act II, p. 35)
Louka says this to Sergius who flirts with her as soon as Raina is out of sight. Louka deflates his noble ideals by pointing out his hypocrisy. The upper classes are no better behaved than the lower classes.
“When you strike that noble attitude and speak in that thrilling voice, I admire you; but I find it impossible to believe a single word you say.”
(Act III, p. 51)
Bluntschli sees through Raina’s constantly acting the part of a heroine from a novel. When he points out her pretensions, she is relieved to be honest around him.
“When you set up your shop you will only be everybody’s servant instead of somebody’s servant.”
(Act III, p. 55)
Louka scolds Nicola for having the soul of a servant. He declares he is saving his money to open a shop, but she sees that as merely a different sort of servitude.
“Act as if you expected to have your own way, not as if you expected to be ordered about.”
(Act III, p. 56)
Accepting that he has lost Louka as a wife, Nicola gives her tips on how to be a lady and catch Sergius. She must act the part of a lady.
“I will not be a coward and a trifler. If I choose to love you, I dare marry you, in spite of all Bulgaria.”
(Act III, p. 59)
Sergius is being teased and prodded by Louka that he is not brave enough to marry outside of his class. This elicits Sergius’s stubborn pride in his own independence.
“The world is not such an innocent place as we used to think, Petkoff.”
(Act III, p. 67)
Sergius says this line to a bewildered Major Petkoff, as the Major discovers that his daughter is after another man (Bluntschli) than her fiancé, Sergius. This remark is in keeping with Sergius’s pose of romantic disillusionment about love and war.