When Bernard Shaw was writing 'Arms and the Man' in 1893-1894, Romantic ideals concerning love and war were still widely accepted and considered normal; an attitude that did not change, even with Bernard Shaw's efforts to the contrary, until the dreadful losses of the First World War. Shaw, a socialist, was greatly influenced by Henrik Ibsen who "took social themes, treated them realistically and condemned the crushing effects of society." Shaw continued in this vein, using his humour and wit to criticise "injustice, hypocrisy and self-interest." In 'Arms and the Man' Shaw attacks these ideals of love in a number of ways. He grossly exaggerates (exaggeration being the most important part of these romantic ideas), but does so to an even greater extent than normal. He gives stark comparisons between his perceived reality and that of the majority of the population, and does so among the characters, the plot and the situation.
He also makes a mockery of these ideals by eventually allowing the characters to realise for themselves the absurdity of their attitudes. Yet, strangely, perhaps because he realised that his play still had to be acceptable to a wide audience, he seems to allow Romantic ideas to re-emerge at the end.
During the Romantic period exaggeration of things such as love was common, and was, in fact, the basis of the Romantic culture. In 'Arms and the Man' there an even greater extent of exaggeration than was common. The characters, the situations and to some extent the plot are all exaggerated in some way. Of the main characters, Sergius, Raina, and Bluntschli, only Bluntschli is not of a highly romantic bearing, and even he might be considered slightly exaggerated in the opposite way.
Sergius is described by Shaw as "a tall, romantically...