Candida: by George Bernard Shaw - Summary and Analysis

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      Candida (1894) is often considered Shaw's best play, specially by those who dislike his propaganda plays. The Reverend James Morell is a handsome, successful Christian socialist cleric, aged forty. Candida is his lovely and intelligent wife, aged thirty three. The eighteen year-old poetic genius, Eugene Marchbanks falls in love with Candida and wants her to elope with him. He thinks that a woman like Candida cannot love a man like James Morell who is proud of his worldly success but has allowed Candida to clean the room and trim the lamp. He has romantic passion for Candida for whom he will make golden boots to make a trip to snowy mountains. Morrell who loves his wife becomes jealous and asks his wife to choose between the two. The conflict is between Morell, the practical 'advanced' man of present worldly success, and Marchbanks, the impractical genius. Candida chooses: "I give myself to the weaker of the two." Morell is surprised; but Marchbanks understands and departs. Candida chooses Morell because he needs her. The artist will win out even without the help of Candida, but the so-called successful man with conventional ideas about marriage will require her help. Morell and Candida come to a genuine realisation of their relationship.

Candida by George Bernard Shaw

Critical Analysis
      The play is a witty intellectual plea for realistic instead of romantic interpretations of love, and marriage, Eugene is a catalyst agent who forces a truer understanding between husband and wife. The conflict is brought out through conversations which are witty and humorous. Shaw makes propaganda art by highlighting the conflict through contrasts and confrontation of different standpoints. Candida is the New woman. As per name suggests, she is candid (frank). She shatters Morell's illusions about his worldly success. She makes her understand that his strength is rooted in his wife. She does not love Morell, yet she chooses him because she wants domestic security and bliss. The poet has imagination and can live with his poetry. There is a 'secret' in him, but Morell cannot do without her and she also depends on domestic security for her sons. The play is subtitled, a Mystery.

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