A Look at the Morally Ambiguous Character of Serius Saranoff in the Play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw

“One of them is a hero, another a buffoon, another a humbug, another perhaps a bit of a blackguard… And one, at least, is a cowardijealous, like all cowards.” This line from Arms and the Man summarizes Sergius’ place as ambiguous morally (particularly under the circumstances in this particular scene) but also ambiguous as a character. He is a parody of storybook heroes and therefore, more real than most dashing, young, heroic types in stories. Before the events of the play occur, all of his beliefs have been shattered by the battle he “won” by luck and circumstance His morals inhabit that gray area that real people struggle with while still maintaining an exaggerated caricature of a man.

Before Sergius Saranoff is introduced into the events of the story, Raina and Catherine sing his praises to one another and to the later revealed Bluntschli. The reader forms the mental picture of Prince Charming almost immediately (as the author intended). Upon his entry to the second act, Sergius almost lives up to expectations, He is still the figure of a gentleman, but he is slightly bitter and sarcastic.

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His morals still seem intact, he shows his “love“ for Raina, at least until she leaves at which his morals get thrown out the window for apparent desire for Louka, At this point, the reader begins to question Sergius and what he really wants. Later on, in act III, Sergius seems determined to maintain the guise and defend his honor by challenging Bluntschli in a rather comical show of bravado.

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His repeated mantra of “I never apologize,” is finally broken in the face of his love for Louka. All of the characters in the play are, like all well written characters, morally ambiguous on some ground or another, They all have secret and strange motives driving their actions (with the possible exception of Bluntschli). Sergius is probably the best example of this. The conflictions between his morals, reality, and his perception of the world all come together to create this seemingly troubled man. The truth is far simpler, he is as close to a real person as a writer can formulate without destroying the integrity of the story As a result, Sergius tends to ask questions and take rash action that drive the plot forward. Without Sergius’ stalwart persistence, Raina’s secrets would have stayed secrets (except for the portrait left in the coat) On the other hand, if Sergius had been the hero of Raina’s fantasies, none of the events of the plot would have occurred in the way they did, He would never question Raina, turn his attention to Louka, or suspect Bluntschli, In this, his purpose as the driving force in the story is revealed. Sergius’ motives are never quite clears He wants many things and will not hesitate to take what he wants, but at the same time, he wishes to be genteel. Of all the misunderstanding that takes place, his is the greatest and therefore, due to the nature of the tale, drives the narratives Sergius closes the play with the line “What a man! What a man!” as a farewell to Bluntschl‘L Somewhat ironically, Sergius is a more accurate representation of a real man than Bluntschli, who more caricature than man, “What a man! What a man!”

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A Look at the Morally Ambiguous Character of Serius Saranoff in the Play Arms and the Man by George Bernard Shaw. (2022, Jul 15). Retrieved from https://studymoose.com/a-look-at-the-morally-ambiguous-character-of-serius-saranoff-in-the-play-arms-and-the-man-by-george-bernard-shaw-essay

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