Who is hero in the play Candida – Marchbanks

Who is hero in the play Candida – Marchbanks

Who is hero in the play ‘Candida’ ? Account for Marchbanks as the hero of the play. Or “It is not the husband, but the poet who attracts our sympathy and deserves to be the hero in the play” Discuss. Or ”Account for the character of Marchbanks.

Who is hero in the play Candida – Marchbanks

Introduction-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. The play is based on a love triangle in which two men : Morell and Marchbanks claim their love to one lady Candida. A common man thinks the person who marries the heroine is the hero, but a literary evaluation shows that the hero ought to be active and his action ought to leave an impression on the audience or the reader as the case may bc. From this point of view, we find that Morell is weak. It is Marchbanks who attracts our sympathy and proves himself superior to More.  Marchbanks sacrifices Candida, but refuses to forget her for he loves her for her sake. Morell loves her for utility sake. Marchbanks loses her in the physical world, but restores memory forever in her mind.

“It is not the husband but the poet who attracts our sympathy and deserves to be the hero in the play.”

His appearance-

Marchbanks is a strange, shy youth of eighteen. He is tender and womanish. His voice is childish. His dress is rough and upset. He wears an old jacket, unbuttoned over a woollen shirt with a handkerchief for a necktie. His trousers match the jacket. He wears brown canvas shoes. His dress is dirty and unbrushed. Candida asks him to dress properly.

His error in judgement-

Eugene Marchbanks is an emotional, shy youth of eighteen. He lives with Candida to assist her. He is orphan and she pities him. He takes it for love. He claims that he loves Candida more than Morell. Marchbanks tells Morell that he loves his wife Candida. He claims that he appreciates Candida’s qualities while Morell does not care for her.

His dreams for Candida-

Marchbanks remains lost in her dreamsMarchbanks thinks Morell has been treating Candida as a slave. Morell does not care that oil may stain her hands. Candida blames Morell for giving no time to look after the house. Her scrubbing brush has been spoiled. 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. She deserves to live in a dreamland of natural beauty. Here the marble floors are washed by the rain and dried by the sun. The south wind dusts the beautiful, green and purple carpets of flowery grass. If she has no liking for boating, he would bring a chariot to carry her up into the sky to walk among shining stars.

His discovery of truth-

Candida’s wisdom enables Marchbanks to understand what is true love and what true happiness. 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. There appeared a flaming sword that moved so violently that he couldn’t enter the Gate. When his confusion was over, he found that it was really the gate of hell. It comes to Morell’s mind perhaps Candida did not allow him for being much intimate. But in fact, Candida is wiser than Morell. She was alone, yet she was fearless and tried to purify Marchbanks’ mind removing unholy longings. She asked him to say what he really feels for her.

It is her maturity. Marchbanks claims that he worships her. His sensual desires turn into a spiritual longing.. Morell confirms what ne is, is the result of her efforts. 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. He had never thought about Candida in these terms. 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.

His emotional love-

Marchbanks is a true lover. His love is beyond physical existence. When he departs, 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.


Marchbanks is a man of highly imaginative nature. He gives more importance to the world of mind and soul than the physical world. He is satisfied with this that Candida has not asked him to forget her, but expressed her inability to meet in this world. Marchbanks seems to be much like a lover of Browing’s dramatic monologue having faith in eternity. Therefore, it is not the husband, but the poet who attracts our sympathy and deserves to be the hero in the play.

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