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Candida as a domestic comedy(15 marks, Word limit-about 550 words)

Shaw presents the classic themes of drama and depicts the clash within the individual mind. The themes in the Shavian drama are the relation between men and women, husbands and wives, parents and children, workers and employers, the problems of conscience, character and disposition the conception of life as a creative energy. Candida, a domestic play and a critique of the Victorian society, focuses primarily on home. Candida, the wife of Morell, is enthusiastically described by her husband as an angel. At the beginning of the play, he is presented as an ideal husband. So great he thinks is his marriage life that he is of the view that the kingdom of heaven can be established on Earth only through marriage to a good woman like Candida-get a wife like my Candida, and youll always be in arrear with your repayment. Candida too loves him, provides him with all the necessary comforts and keeps all vulgar cares away from him so that he may compose his beautiful sermons undisturbed-I build a castle of comfort and indulgence and love for him. All goes well till Eugene Marchbanks enters their apparently happy marriage. He is a strange, shy youth of eighteen, nervous and timid. He passionately falls in love with Candida. He declares great admiration for Candida, not to her but to Morell, whom he challenges to an intellectual battle-you think yourself stronger than I am, but I shall stagger you if you have a heart in your breast. He tells Morell, Happy! Your marriage! You think that! You believe that!, which takes Morell aback. Eugene further tells Morell that his wife despises him as Davids wife despised him when she saw him dancing outside among people. He calls Morell a windbag who has made life a mockery for a woman with a great soul- A woman with a great soul craving for reality, truth, freedom, and being fed on metaphors, sermons, stale perorations, mere rhetoric. Do you think a womans soul can live on your talent for preaching? For the first time in his life Morell has to pause and consider himself, but still does not admit his shortcomings. There is a violent quarrel between the two which makes Morell ask Candida to choose between him and Eugene. Candidas choice constitutes the pivot of the play. In the auction scene Morell calls Candida his greatest treasure and announces We have agreed-he and I-that you shall choose between us now. Candida is chilled, both by the stupidity of a man who addresses her as if she were a public meeting and by the word treasure, which implies that he is unconsciously thinking of her as a possession. The frail poet bids his weakness, desolation and hearts need against Morrels conventional offer of his strength and protection. The latters every word and gesture reveal the truth behind the manly faade-that he is the one who most needs her affectionate care. Candida is thus able to declare with no hesitation that she chooses her husband as the weaker of the two men. She explains

calmly that Eugene has always been a rejected child and can therefore better tolerate rejection. But Morell has been spoiled from the cradle. Without her strength and constant protection, she explains, Morrels entire childs world will collapse. Thus, the axis around which Candida revolves is neither love nor hatred, it is strength and weakness- a strong woman chooses a weaker man. Shaw once again departs from the conventional formula of the prevalent well-made plays, comprising of the similar theme of the eternal triangle. Candida is by no means the typical anguished wife of those sentimental melodramas who must either put up with an impossible husband or indulge a guilty passion for another man. She is the strongest character in the play, and is guided by common sense, not by emotion or passion. Eugene discovers that he is in fact the stronger man who has learnt to live without happiness. He goes away with a secret in his heart. Though Candida returns to her husband, and though they might live in happiness, there is no nobility in it. Eugene thus rejects their narrow domestic world. It is the poet who has learnt to live without happiness, who knows that life is nobler than that.

Anjan Some BNC 3rd year