The Reverend James Morell's joy in his comfortable marriage to Candida is shaken by the arrival of the young poet, Marchbanks. Both men adore her, in quite different ways and for quite different reasons, and she is attracted to them for their very different qualities. Marchbanks believes she has a choice. Morell is devastated by the idea of losing her. They both forget she is her own woman.
A highly provocative playwright of ideas, George Bernard Shaw handles the theme of marriage in this play named after a middle-aged housewife bearing the same name, a name that primarily derives from 'candid', the title of the play as much as the name of the central woman thus immediately foregrounding the theme of openness or frankness, especially in respect of love, romance and human/emotional relationship. Taking the cue from his mentor, Norwegian dramatist Henrik Ibsen, Shaw presents the domestic woman Candida held in a queer dilemma to choose her clergyman husband Reverend James Mavor Morell or alternatively her young poet lover Eugene Marchbanks, both of whom vie for her love and loyalty. The secular priest Morell feels increasingly threatened by the 'calf-love' between Candida and Marchbanks for he is heavily dependent on Candida in all household matters and cannot just think of living without her, while, on the other hand, Marchbanks poetises and philosophizes to impress upon Candida with an alternative world of imagination beyond domesticity. Shaw brilliantly handles the theme of freedom of a domestic woman by upturning the age-old triangular love-relationship when in the closing scene Morell's wife and Marchbank's beloved Candida is put on auction at which it is Candida herself who chooses Morell as the 'weaker of the two'. Unlike Ibsen's Nora, who leaves her husband by slamming the door, Candida stays back with her husband as her young lover goes away, but she must now be a different woman as Morell is far from a prevailing and protective male. ~ Submitted by Kuntal Chattopadhyay
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