Theme of the play CANDIDA by George Bernard Shaw?
The play “Candida” by George Bernard Shaw, first published in 1898 is one of Shaw’s characteristic comedy plays presenting his iconoclastic views for which he is so famously known. As its central theme, the play questions the Victorian notions of love and marriage, asking what a woman really desires from her husband.
The play narrates the story of Candida, the wife of a famous clergyman, the Reverend James Mavor Morell. Morell, a Christian Socialist, is a famous orator and popular in the Church of England, but much of his success is due to his wife Candida.
A love triangle develops when a young poet named Eugene Marchbanks falls in love with Candida. Eugene wants to rescue her from what he thinks to be her dull family life. Marchbanks believes that Candida deserves more attention and care than what her husband shows her. He thinks that she is divine and should not be wasting her life in petty household chores.
On the other hand, Morell believes Candida needs his care and protection, but the truth is quite the contrary. Finally, Marchbanks demands that Candida must choose between the two gentlemen. Now, amazing the readers, she chooses the “weaker of the two” who turns out to be her husband Morell.
Going against the popular belief and notion is what Shaw is famous for. And in his play “Candida”, through the protagonist, the playwright attempts to shatter the idea that women would always prefer the stronger man.
Now, apart from the theme of love and marriage, the play explores a number of minor themes. The freedom of women in Victorian society to choose her own way of life — to choose between security and freedom, between domesticity and boundless imagination — is one such theme in the play. Moreover, the way the central male characters Morell and Eugene show their ignorance of the reality of their actual importance or the truth in their perceptions highlights the theme of ignorance and arrogance.