Character Sketch of Raina in Arms and The Man

Raina Petkoff is one of the central characters in George Bernard Shaw’s play “Arms and the Man.” Below is a character sketch of Raina:

Raina Petkoff: A Portrait of Contradictions

  1. Background and Social Status:
    • Raina is introduced as the daughter of Major Paul Petkoff, a member of the upper-class Bulgarian family. Her social status aligns with the societal norms of the time, reflecting the privilege and expectations associated with her class.
  2. Idealism and Romantic Notions:
    • Raina is characterized by her romantic idealism. She is initially enamored with the romanticized notion of war and heroism, influenced by the stories and ideals of the time. Her ideals are, however, challenged as the play unfolds.
  3. Engagement to Sergius Saranoff:
    • At the beginning of the play, Raina is engaged to Sergius Saranoff, a dashing and heroic figure. Her engagement is initially based on societal expectations and the romanticized image of Sergius as a war hero.
  4. Contradictions in Personality:
    • Raina’s character is marked by internal contradictions. While she presents herself as a romantic idealist, her actions and decisions often reveal a more pragmatic and realistic side. This duality adds complexity to her character.
  5. Encounter with Captain Bluntschli:
    • Raina’s life takes a turn when she encounters Captain Bluntschli, a pragmatic and anti-romantic Swiss soldier. The contrast between Bluntschli’s realism and Sergius’s romanticism forces Raina to confront the contradictions within herself.
  6. Transformation and Growth:
    • As the play progresses, Raina undergoes significant transformation and growth. The encounter with Bluntschli challenges her preconceived notions about love, war, and heroism, leading to a more nuanced understanding of reality.
  7. Realism and Pragmatism:
    • Raina’s interactions with Bluntschli bring out her pragmatic and realistic side. She begins to question the romantic ideals she once held and embraces a more grounded perspective on life.
  8. Independence and Self-Discovery:
    • Raina’s journey involves a quest for independence and self-discovery. Her evolving understanding of love and her willingness to break societal norms highlight her courage and desire for authenticity.
  9. Symbol of Changing Times:
    • Raina can be seen as a symbol of changing times. Her character represents the shift from romantic idealism to a more realistic and pragmatic worldview, mirroring the societal changes taking place during the time of the play.
  10. Resolution and Maturity:
    • By the end of the play, Raina displays maturity and resolution. Her decision to break off her engagement with Sergius and choose a more down-to-earth and practical partner in Bluntschli signifies her growth and a departure from societal expectations.


Raina Petkoff, in “Arms and the Man,” is a character who undergoes a profound journey of self-discovery and transformation. Her initial romantic idealism gives way to a more grounded and pragmatic understanding of love and life. As a central figure in the play, Raina’s complexities and contradictions contribute to the exploration of societal norms, the impact of war, and the evolving nature of relationships.

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