Candida by G. B. Shaw summary and a detailded note for BA English Honours

Candida by G. B. Shaw, written in 1894 and first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife Candida, and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Candida’s affections. The play questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband.

Table of Contents

The main characters in Candida by G. B. Shaw

  • Candida Morell: A young and beautiful woman who is married to Rev. James Morell, a successful Christian Socialist preacher. She is kind, compassionate, and intelligent, and she is loved by both her husband and Eugene Marchbanks.
  • Rev. James Morell: A charismatic and idealistic preacher who is devoted to his work and his wife. He is a good man, but he can also be arrogant and self-absorbed.
  • Eugene Marchbanks: A sensitive and idealistic poet who is in love with Candida. He is young and inexperienced, but he is also deeply perceptive and insightful.

Other characters

  • Reverend Alexander Mill: Morell’s curate. He is a young and eager man who admires Morell greatly.
  • Miss Proserpine Garnett: Morell’s secretary. She is a plain and efficient woman who is secretly in love with Morell.
  • Mr. Burgess:¬†Candida’s father. He is a wealthy and practical man who does not understand his daughter’s idealism.

Summary

Candida is a comedy by George Bernard Shaw, written in 1894 and first published in 1898, as part of his Plays Pleasant. The central characters are clergyman James Morell, his wife, and a youthful poet, Eugene Marchbanks, who tries to win Morell’s wife’s affections. The play questions Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband.

The play is set in the north-east suburbs of London, in the home of the Morells. Candida is a young and beautiful woman who is devoted to her husband, a successful Christian Socialist preacher. However, she is also attracted to Eugene Marchbanks, a sensitive and idealistic poet who sees her as the embodiment of his artistic vision.

Eugene arrives at the Morells’ home unexpectedly, and Candida invites him to stay for lunch. He soon reveals that he is in love with her, and that he believes she is unhappy in her marriage. She is flattered by his attention, but she insists that she loves her husband.

That evening, Eugene confronts Morell, accusing him of being a self-absorbed egomaniac who does not appreciate Candida’s true worth. Morell is furious, and he orders Eugene to leave the house. However, Candida intervenes, and she tells Morell that she is prepared to go with Eugene.

Morell is devastated, but Candida eventually persuades him to let her go. She tells him that she needs to experience life outside of their marriage in order to know if she truly loves him.

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Candida spends the night with Eugene, but she returns to Morell the next morning. She tells Morell that she has realized that she loves him more than anything else in the world. However, she also tells him that he must learn to respect her individuality and her independence.

In the end, Candida and Morell reconcile. However, their marriage is forever changed. Candida is no longer Morell’s submissive wife. She is now an equal partner, and she is determined to live her own life.

The play explores complex themes such as love, marriage, gender roles, and the nature of art. It is a witty and thought-provoking work that remains relevant today.

Additional notes:

  • Candida is a complex and challenging character. She is intelligent, compassionate, and independent. She is also deeply in love with her husband. However, she is not willing to sacrifice her own individuality or her freedom for his sake.
  • Morell is a good man, but he can also be arrogant and self-absorbed. He loves Candida deeply, but he does not always understand her needs and desires.
  • Eugene is a young and inexperienced man, but he is also deeply perceptive and insightful. He sees Candida’s true worth, and he loves her unconditionally.

The play ends with Candida and Morell reconciled, but their marriage is forever changed. Candida is now an equal partner, and she is determined to live her own life. This is a radical message for a play written in the Victorian era.

Critical Analyze

Candida is a complex and challenging play that has been interpreted in many different ways over the years. One of the most common critical analyses of the play focuses on its exploration of gender roles and the nature of marriage in the Victorian era.

Candida is a strong and independent woman who is not afraid to challenge her husband’s authority. She is also deeply in love with him, but she refuses to give up her own individuality or her freedom for his sake. This makes her a radical figure for her time.

Morell is a good man, but he can also be arrogant and self-absorbed. He loves Candida deeply, but he does not always understand her needs and desires. This leads to some tension in their marriage.

Eugene is a young and inexperienced man, but he is also deeply perceptive and insightful. He sees Candida’s true worth, and he loves her unconditionally. He is a foil to Morell, and he helps Candida to see herself more clearly.

In the end, Candida chooses to stay with Morell. However, she makes it clear that she is not doing so because she is obligated to him. She loves him, but she also loves her freedom. She tells Morell that he must learn to respect her individuality and her independence.

This ending is a radical one for a play written in the Victorian era. It suggests that women are not simply the property of their husbands, and that they have the right to live their own lives.

Another common critical analysis of Candida focuses on its exploration of the nature of art. Eugene is a poet, and he sees Candida as the embodiment of his artistic vision. He wants her to be his muse, and he is threatened when he sees that she is more than just an object of his desire.

Morell, on the other hand, sees art as something that is secondary to his work as a preacher. He does not understand Eugene’s passion, and he sees him as a threat to his marriage.

In the end, Candida chooses to stay with Morell. However, she also makes it clear that she appreciates Eugene’s artistic vision. She tells him that he has helped her to see herself more clearly.

This ending suggests that art is a powerful force that can help us to understand ourselves and the world around us. It also suggests that there is no one right way to live life. Each individual must find their own path.

Candida is a complex and challenging play that continues to be relevant today. It explores important themes such as gender roles, the nature of marriage, and the power of art. It is a witty and thought-provoking work that is sure to make audiences think.

FAQs

What is “Candida” about?
“Candida” is a comedy play by George Bernard Shaw that explores themes of love, marriage, and social expectations. It revolves around the character of Candida, a strong and independent woman, and the two men who vie for her affections: her husband, Reverend James Morell, and a young poet, Eugene Marchbanks.

When was “Candida” first performed?
“Candida” was first performed in 1895 in London. It was one of Shaw’s earlier successful works.

Who are the main characters in “Candida”?
The main characters in the play include Candida Morell, Reverend James Morell, Eugene Marchbanks, Burgess, and Miss Proserpine Garnett. Candida is at the center of the conflict between Morell and Marchbanks.

What is the central conflict in the play?
The central conflict in “Candida” revolves around Candida’s affections. Reverend James Morell is a socialist preacher who believes he is the perfect husband, but he begins to question Candida’s love and his own convictions when the young poet Eugene Marchbanks enters their lives.

What are some of the major themes in “Candida”?
Some of the major themes in the play include love and marriage, societal expectations, the role of women in society, and the conflict between idealism and practicality.

Is “Candida” a comedy or a drama?
“Candida” is considered a comedy, although it contains elements of drama and social commentary. Shaw’s wit and satire are evident throughout the play.

What is George Bernard Shaw’s writing style in “Candida”?
Shaw is known for his sharp wit and clever dialogue, and “Candida” is no exception. His writing often combines humor with thought-provoking social commentary.

Has “Candida” been adapted into other forms of media?
While “Candida” is primarily known as a stage play, it has been adapted for radio and television over the years. There have also been various stage productions and revivals of the play.

What is the significance of the title “Candida”?
“Candida” is the name of the central female character in the play. Her character is pivotal to the story, and her choices and actions drive the narrative.

What is the message or takeaway from “Candida”?
The play explores the complexities of human relationships and challenges conventional ideas about love and marriage. It raises questions about individuality, societal expectations, and the nature of true love.