CANDIDA AS A MYSTERY PLAY : Candida is one of the significant and immortal play of G.B. Shaw. It is neither a tragedy nor a comedy. It deals with the conjugal life of Candida and Morell. It is a serious comedy. Interestingly Shaw’s plays deal with the burgeoning problems of his age. In most of his plays Shaw expresses the artificiality and hollowness of our social life. Remarkably Shaw not only expresses the social domestic malaise but also suggest their remedies ensure. Like Shakespearean plays the conflict are palpably palpable but they are of different types. In Shaw’s plays the conflict is apparently between the affluent people of society and their exploitations Shaw, like Galsworthy (The Silver Box) discusses the rampant vices and corruption of society.

In Candida, Shaw is at his best. He attacked the economical system in its greatest and most popular institution marriage. True the economic as well as marriage and family problems has been focused. However the subtitle of the play ‘Mystery’ is weighted with much significance. Significantly, In Candida, Shaw is not confined to one problem. He discusses the complicacies of the eternal triangle, the exploitation of the capitalist and the hollowness of the institution of marriage together with wit, humour and satire. Varied ideas and varied problems have been forcefully focused but to top all these Candida is reckoned to be a mystery play.

There is supreme suspense and curiosity in the relation of March banks and Candida. When March Banks challenges Morell and Candida says that she will leave him, this gives a turn to the climax of the play. When candida is given the option by Morell to choose between March Banks and him. Candida decides to live with Morell her husband for whom she has prodigious love but at the same time she has soft and tender feelings for March Banks. She tells him that there is a great gap of age between her and him. The suggestion of Candida infructuous in healing up the wounded feeling of March Banks. At the end of the plays March Banks goes out in the dark nights telling Morell and Candida “I have better secret than that in my heart”.

But Morell and Candida don’t don’t know the secret of March Banks heart. What the secret is, it still remains a mystery. Shaw has provided no clue to reveal the mystery. According to A.C Ward more than one Mystery might be found here but chief is that apparently weak and dependent. March Banks is far stronger in spirit than candida’s robust and self assured husband whose preaching fortifies the spirit of countless others.

What is more Candida’s long speech at the end of the auction scene reveals it to March Banks the life of domestic dependence and contentment of hope. And March bank statements that he has a better secret than in his heart, is really a mystery. The dramatist concludes with this remark, they embrace but they don’t know the secret of posts love. The finale of the drama suggests that Shaw in this play wants March Banks realise that love weather romantic or otherwise can bring no real happiness to an artist. The secret which he carries in his heart is the realization of the futility of the prosaic life. One more mystery is revealed that Morell is apparently independent.

Although in the last act of the play Morell offers his strength for candida’s defence. She comes to realise that Morell is routed in his heart and would be non-existent without care and division. March Banks realises that the life of an artist lies in the art and not in the domestic blesses. March Banks’ illusions were removed by candida’s statement. That moment this illusions is removed March Banks goes out in the darkness with secret in his heart. Morell and Candida felt to understand the mystery of the secret of March Banks love. It is for the readers to smoke out the secret which was in the heart of the poet. What is more the subtitle of the play mystery is also meaty and laden with suggestions.

Candida as a problem play -Marchbanks

Discuss ‘Candida’ as a play of ideas. Or Discuss ‘Candida’ as a problem play.. Or Discuss Shaw’s ‘Candida’ as a mystery play. Or Discuss Shaw’s ‘Candida’ as a domestic comedy. Or Comment on the title of the play ‘Candida’.

Candida : As a Play of Ideas


In Shaw’s ‘Candida’, there is no dispute regarding the heroine of the play, but there is confusion regarding the hero for Marchbanks and Morell are the two leading male characters. Candida’s importance makes the title of the play to the point and fully justified. It is a short, simple, attractive title. A frank, open, honest, truthful, sincere, direct and plain-spoken person is called candid. Candida has all these qualities in her character. The main title is justified by this fact. But the subtitle ‘A Mystery’ demands discussion. Besides, Maurice Valency claims in the first draft of the play, Shaw called : ‘Candida, a Domestic Comedy’. When he could not feel satisfied with it, he gave another title to the play: ‘Candida, a Mystery’.

‘Candida’: as a domestic comedy-

It is right to call the play a domestic comedy for the play is based on the theme of importance and responsibility of married life and love. Morell is a great preacher. He is fond of preaching. When there is a conversation about his wife Candida, he preaches the great importance of a happy married life. He regards it a great blessing to have a virtuous wife like Candida. In his opinion, Lexy should not delay in getting a wife like Candida. A happy married life gives the joys of heaven on earth.

“Ah, my boy, get married-get married to a good woman; and then you’ll understand. That’s a foretaste of what will be best in the Kingdom of Heaven we are trying to establish on earth.”

Conflict in domestic life-

There appears a conflict in domestic life with the arrival of Marchbanks. Morell, Candida and Marchtanks are three progressive stages on the road to immorality and irresponsibility. Marchbanks tells Morell that he loves his wife Candida. He claims that he appreciates Candida’s qualities while Morell does not care for her. Morell takes his claim lightly and says that Candida is so good that everybody loves her. There is nothing wrong in it if Marchbanks too loves her. Morell likes it that Marchbanks admires his wife. Morell points out that Marchbanks is under twenty and Candida is over thirty.

In this case, their love is tender love. It looks like calf love for the mother. Marchbanks points out that Candida is not an ordinary woman. She has a great soul. She has no faith in Morell’s vain preaching Candida asks Marchbanks to gift her a nice new brush, decorated with pearls. It hurts Marchbanks’ soft feelings that Candida wishes for a scrubbing brush. Being a poet by nature, he wishes to walk in dreamlands with her. He wishes to take her in a boat to far away from the world of cares.

Testing of domestic love-

Marchbanks laughs at Morell who gets Candida’s love as if he were buying something in a market. Marchbanks went to her as a beggar. Candida offered him all that he could ever wish. Marchbanks’ poetic expression confuses the moral preacher Morell. It fills Morell’s mind with foul suspicions. When Marchbanks claims that he is the happiest of all men, Morell envies him. Marchbanks desires nothing, but Candida’s happiness. Hearing it, Morell grows impatient. Marchbanks proposes Morell that they both should give up Candida.

She should be free to choose between a poor poet and a vain preacher. She deserves to have a worthy lover of her choice because she is a beautiful angel with purple wings. Candida claims that she is no angel and remains satisfied in her little family. She does not wish to visit a dreamland. It is not easy to be a successful wife.

True love and true happiness—

Candida’s wisdom enables Marchbanks to understand what is true love and what true happiness. Morell, Candida and Marchbanks are three progressive stages on the road to immorality and irresponsibility. Marchbanks’ report alarms Morell that while talking to Candida, Marchbanks felt as if he were standing outside the gate of heaven. But within no time, she became an angel. It dazzled Marchbanks. Marchbanks claims that he worships her. His sensual desires turn into a spiritual longing.

Morell confirms what he is, is the result of her errorts. Candida is not only his wife, but also his mother as well as his sister. Hearing it, Marchbanks begins to think in a new way. A new, but true picture of love now appears before Marchbanks. He realizes that love is not hidden in possessing the person whom he loves, but in making sacrifices for the delight of that person.

‘Candida’: as a mystery –

 Shaw calls the play a mystery for Marchbanks gives up Candida without any complaint.

“I no longer desire happiness : life is nobler than that. Parson James : I give you my happiness with both hands : I love you because you have filled the heart of the woman I loved. Good-bye.

Marchbanks desires nothing, but Candida’s happiness. Candida claims that she is no angel and remains satisfied in her little family. She attempts at keeping Morell’s mind free from all tensions. As a bird makes her nest, she builds a castle of comfort, luxury and love for Morell. He too is so greatly devoted to her. A new, but true picture of love now appears before Marchbanks. He realizes love is not hidden in possessing the person whom he loves, but in making sacrifices for the delight of that person. Marchbanks develops a great respect for Morell for he cares all the time for Candida whom Marchbanks loves whole heartedly. Candida advises Marchbanks to repeat two lines to himself whenever her memory haunts him.

When I am thirty, she will be forty-five.

When I am sixty, she will be seventy-five.

Marchbanks refuses to believe in what Candida suggests at this time. He is a poet who believes in eternity. He claims that in a hundred years, they shall be the same age. His heart hides a better secret than it. He wishes to depart now. The night outside the house welcomes him. In the world of reality, Candida cannot leave her husband and Marchbanks cannot attain her. But in his dreamland, he is free to sail in a boat with Candida. The night that welcomes him is symbol of hopelessness, caused by his failure in getting Candida. But there is no restriction on his dreams in which he shall embrace her and no vain preacher would come to disturb him.

Conclusion-To avoid controversy of the subtitle, Shaw called the play only ‘Candida’.

Read it also:


Leave a Comment