"CANDIDA" (GEORGE BERNARD SHAW).
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Play's sociopolitical messages, ideas on marriage & male-female relations, women's roles, power & love.... More...
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Play's sociopolitical messages, ideas on marriage & male-female relations, women's roles, power & love.
The purpose of this research is to examine Candida by George Bernard Shaw. The plan of the research will be to set forth the pattern of ideas emerging in the work and the means by which such ideas are put forward, and then to discuss the character of the male-female relationships that surface in the action of the play. The sociopolitical climate of Shaw's England appears to have offered the playwright the subject of his conflict. In his 1895 essay on the problem play, Shaw states the primacy of social issues in modern drama, expressing himself in dramatic rather than directly sociopolitical terms. One critical point is that a good problem play is good chiefly because of the emotional content of the human condition portrayed in the text. Social questions are produced by the conflict of human institutions with human feeling. . . . Now the material of
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When there is money to give, he gives it: when there ismoney to refuse, I refuse it" (Shaw, Candida 74). But Candida is domestic comedy, not domestic drama, and thisanswer to the Woman Question moves toward Morell's insight that Candida'slove for him has meant that she has played one socially sanctioned role soas to enable him to play another role that is not only socially sanctionedbut also personally beneficial.An important clue to understanding how Candida approaches her marriage isin her relationship with her father, Burgess. Candida is caretaker for a way of life that she wishes shecould have in substance as well as in form and that her husband, in hisfatuous self-absorption, thinks she does have. . 443-7.Watson, Barbara Bellow. .Her ways are those of a woman who has found that she can always managepeople by engaging their affection, and who does so frankly andinstinctively without the smallest scruple. Shaw's stage directions are ofgreat importance in conveying this fact: "[With sweet irony] And when hethought I might go away with you, his only anxiety was--what should becomeof me! . The social distance betweenfather and daughter is an important index of their personal relationship,just as their different speech patterns are an index of the social distancebetween classes. New York: Bantam, 1971.Shaw, George Bernard. The form thatCandida's experience takes is a mature regard for how her marriage might bemore satisfactory for her, as well as a realistic understanding thatincreased satisfaction may never come. . Candida is continuously engaged in theworld, protecting her husband from it so that he may function in therarefied environs of the liberal public lecture circuit. . That situationleads to a whole range of considerations that make up the action of theplay: "Candida investigates the balance of power and need between a husbandand a wife. That play treats with great seriousness the unequal-partner status of women in standard marriages and the consequences thatfollow from the realization on the part of the unequal partner that nobenefit attaches to that denying one's fundamental humanity. The plan of the research will be to set forth the pattern of ideasemerging in the work and the means by which such ideas are put forward, andthen to discuss the character of the male-female relationships that surfacein the action of the play. He can't even manage servants. This is partly aninherited skill that is ennobled in Candida by the love she has for Morell.Watson (115-6) cites Candida when making the point that historically womenenact power as a vital intelligence rather than physical strength,overcoming male domination by actually concealing their strength ofcharacter. The purpose of this research is to examine Candida by George BernardShaw. It is a study ofhow an institution is brought, after the manner of the case made in "TheProblem Play," into more harmony with the feeling of women, something fewpeople can do in real life but that Shaw can do in his play. Now the material of the dramatist is always someconflict of human feeling with circumstances; so that, since institutionsare circumstances, every social question furnishes material for drama. . Barrett H.Clark. To Marchbanks she says that she builds "a castle of comfortand indulgence and love for him, and stand sentinel always to keep littlevulgar cares out" (Shaw, Candida 74). European_Theories_of_the_Drama. No conflict, no question(444).In Candida, the same line, given to Lexy, becomes a joke on male self-importance: "Ah, if you women only had the same clue to Man's strength thatyou have to his weakness, Miss Prossy, there would be no Woman Question"(Shaw, Candida 13). . The wry attitude with which she treats the uneasy reconciliationbetween Burgess and husband indicates that she does have knowledge of theheart and of the mind that neither man possesses. Like Ibsen in A Doll's House, Shaw takes an apparently happymarriage and exposes its foundations" (Arnott 39 ).Given the one-sided arrangement of daily life, it seems fair to ask whatpurpose Morell serves for Candida. New York: Crown Publishers, Inc. That is why she can be pleasantly officious with Marchbanks inhousekeeping matters such as trimming the lamps, blacking the boots,chopping the onions, and so on. "The Problem Play. In his 1895 essay on theproblem play, Shaw states the primacy of social issues in modern drama,expressing himself in dramatic rather than directly sociopolitical terms.One critical point is that a good problem play is good chiefly because ofthe emotional content of the human condition portrayed in the text.Social questions are produced by the conflict of human institutions withhuman feeling. Indeed, it ismanifestly the case that, in the manner of her relationship with herfather, Candida does not withhold love from her husband for what he is not(that is what Nora chooses to do in Doll House) but instead loves him forwhat he is or can be. She is perfectly comfortable in the middle class, where she haslanded and where she has differentiated her speech from his apparentlyowing to the benefits of genteel education. The Female Eunuch. Candida's serene brow,courageous eyes, and well set mouth and chin signify largeness of mind anddignity of character to ennoble her cunning in the affections (Shaw,Candida 2 ).The entire argument for Candida's persona is contained in this passage, andher marriage to Morell provides a platform from which she works out thevicissitudes and hidden agenda of mature married love.Further to this point, Morell is also--and importantly--Candida's primarylove object. As a prosperousbusinessman, he is now firmly entrenched in the middle classes. Ed. Still, she has very much rejected everything that Burgess is forMorell. Ask thetradesmen who want to worry James and spoil his beautiful sermons who it isthat puts them off. . Candida. She observes thereconciliation of Burgess and Morell withamused maternal indulgence which is her characteristic expression. Candida comports herself as a wife who is in good-natured service toothers, although in her dealings with everyone except Morell she presentsherself as an equal partner in the interchange, all pretty much on Morell'sbehalf. . The sociopolitical climate of Shaw's England appears to have offeredthe playwright the subject of his conflict. But this is not a construction basedon a lie, for in the final scene it is clear that Candida aches with lovefor Morell that has been scarcely noticed. On the whole,Candida loves Burgess for what he is to her rather than blame him for whathe is not. The moment that seemed no longer natural tosome women, it became grievously oppressive. But moneyby itself does not bring breeding, and he is as incapable of refinedethical sensibilities as of managing the life to which his wealth shouldhave accustomed him. The first answer is that Morell is thesymbol of Candida's station in society. And to tempt me to stay he offered me [leaning forward to stroke hishair caressingly at each phrase] his strength for my defence!" (Shaw,Candida 74).Candida's love for Morell informs every aspect of her actions, and the playas a whole constitutes for Shaw what Germaine Greer says The Taming of theShrew constitutes for Shakespeare, one of the most extraordinary defensesof monogamy ever written (Greer 125). All of this is indicated in thestage directions describing her first entrance. Immediately there was a womanQuestion, which has produced Married Women's Property Acts, Divorce Acts,[and] Woman's Suffrage in local elections (Shaw 444).In this essay, which appeared three years before Candida was published,Shaw dwells at some length on the marriage of the Helmers in Ibsen's A DollHouse, alluding to the theme as "spoiled womanhood" (447), a reference tothe comment that millions of women negate their entire being in themarriage arrangement. 1898; Baltimore: Penguin, 1964.---. "On Power and the Literary Text." Signs 1 (Autumn1975) 111-118. . More, in Shaw's case, the defenseextends to the social institution of marriage, or to what such aninstitution could be if the needs and aspirations of both the woman and theman in the case are taken into account.Works CitedArnott, Peter. and commercial success" (Shaw, Candida 14). Apart from the fact that Morell and Burgess clashedseveral years before the action of the play begins over Burgess's unethicalbusiness practices, leading to Candida's breaking with Burgess, Candida isirrevocably of the next socially evolutionary generation. As Arnott puts it, "Morellloves Candida and idolizes the married state. Burgess, for his part,complains that Morell turned her against him and insinuates that she issocializing above her station when he jokes that Marchbanks is a nobleman.The joke's on him, of course, and Shaw's comic treatment of a family intransition should not distract from the underlying point that Candida isalso, or at any rate has become, a creature of conventional middle classmarriage.And not only its creature but also its protector and nurturer: wife,mother, and factotum to a clergyman with a well-publicized socialconscience. . When Candida asks howthings are at home, he replies, "The ouse aint worth livin in since youleft it, Candy. The price for such an approach to married life isa certain emotional distance on Candida's part and emotional blindness onMorell's. . . The fact that Candida makes Morell "master her, though he doesnot know it, and could not tell you a moment ago how it came to be so"(Shaw, Candida 74) tends to confirm Watson's thesis.Candida, however, is less a study of power relationships than a study ofthe power of love to inform and transform relationships. Boston: Little,Brown, 1981.Greer, Germaine. Theinstitutions assumed that it was natural to a woman to allow her husband toown her property and person, and to represent her in politics as a fatherrepresents his infant child. In the married state, surely themost conventional of social constructions, Candida's moral and emotionallife unfolds in ways that are so defined as to be far different from thoseof, say, Prossy or Lexy or indeed Burgess. In the course of the play,however, he is gradually brought to realize that he is a parasite feedingupon his wife's endeavors" (Arnott 389).What is less obvious is that Candida is also her father's creature, for inher final scene with Marchbanks it is clear that she understands thecommerce of her marriage: "Ask me what it costs to be James's mother andthree sisters and wife and mother to his children all in one. . More generally, Shaw structures Candida to explore theobverse of the psychoemotional situation in A Doll House, presenting awoman who not only retains her persona but also lends nobility and dignityto it by enacting a role that enables a man to avoid the spoiling of hisprinciples, his persona. Burgess is very much acreature of the flower of England's Industrial Revolution, mercantilist,entrepreneurial, not remotely genteel but just clever enough to have risenabove what were his lower-class roots to the "selfishness of petty commerce. Shaw'sanalysis of Ibsen's thesis takes the form of social commentary in essayform: "When we have achieved reforms enough to bring our institutions asfar into harmony with the feelings of women as they now are with thefeelings of men, there will be no Woman Question. The Theater in Its Time: An Introduction. I wish youd come round and give the gurl a talkin to"(Shaw, Candida 21).Candida's ease in dealing with household matters for Morell is indicativeof the confidence that Burgess has that she can help him with his ownhousehold. This is the (for Shaw) modernmarriage, and of course the implications good and bad of that state wouldnot be encountered by Candida were it not for Morell.
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