Candida
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"Candida" Characters Analysis

By George Bernard Shaw

plays | 112 pages | Published in 1934

Candida centers on a romantic triangle and parodies courtly love and the domestic drama of Ibsen. It abounds with classical allusions, the fervor of a religious revival, and poetic inspiration and aspirations.

ISBN_13:9780143039785

Estimated read time: 9 min read

List of Characters

Character Name
Candida
Morell
Marchbanks
Burgess
Lexy

Role Identification

In the play "Candida" by George Bernard Shaw, there are several key characters that drive the narrative forward. Each character plays a specific role in exploring the themes of love, marriage, and societal expectations. The main characters include Candida, Morell, Marchbanks, Burgess, and Lexy.

Character Descriptions

Candida

Candida is the titular character and the center of attention throughout the play. She is described as a beautiful and intelligent woman in her early thirties. Candida is loving, compassionate, and has a strong sense of independence. She is charming and has a way of captivating those around her, including her husband, Morell, and the young poet, Marchbanks.

Morell

Morell is Candida's husband and a clergyman. He is depicted as a middle-aged man in his forties. Morell is passionate about his work and is highly respected in his community. He is a dedicated husband and believes in the traditional roles of men and women in marriage. Morell sees himself as the provider and protector of his wife, but his confidence is shaken when Marchbanks enters their lives.

Marchbanks

Marchbanks is a young poet who falls in love with Candida. He is described as a sensitive and idealistic young man in his early twenties. Marchbanks is filled with admiration for Candida and sees her as his muse. He is deeply introspective and often struggles with his own insecurities. Marchbanks challenges Morell's traditional views on marriage and love, leading to a conflict between the two men.

Burgess

Burgess is Morell's secretary and a devoted employee. He is a practical and down-to-earth character who provides comic relief throughout the play. Burgess is loyal to Morell and often serves as a voice of reason, offering practical advice and observations about the situation between Candida, Morell, and Marchbanks.

Lexy

Lexy is Candida's father and a successful businessman. He only appears in the play briefly but has a significant impact on the story. Lexy is a shrewd and witty character who understands human nature. He provides insights into the complexities of love, marriage, and societal expectations, challenging the characters to question their own beliefs.

Character Traits

Candida

Candida is compassionate, charismatic, and independent. She possesses a natural charm that draws people to her. Candida is also intelligent and uses her wit to navigate through complex situations. She is a caring and nurturing character, but she also values her independence and refuses to be confined by societal expectations.

Morell

Morell is passionate, confident, and traditional. He is committed to his work as a clergyman and believes in the conventional roles of men and women in marriage. Morell is a devoted husband and takes pride in being the provider and protector of Candida. However, he is also vulnerable and easily threatened by Marchbanks' affections towards his wife.

Marchbanks

Marchbanks is sensitive, idealistic, and introspective. He is deeply in love with Candida and sees her as his inspiration. Marchbanks is often lost in his own thoughts and struggles with his own insecurities. He challenges societal norms and traditional views on love and marriage, pushing the characters to question their own beliefs.

Burgess

Burgess is practical, loyal, and humorous. He offers comic relief throughout the play with his witty remarks and observations. Burgess is a loyal employee and friend to Morell, providing practical advice and insights into the situation between Candida, Morell, and Marchbanks.

Lexy

Lexy is shrewd, witty, and insightful. He understands human nature and provides wisdom and guidance to the characters. Lexy challenges their beliefs and encourages them to question societal expectations and traditional views on love and marriage.

Character Background

Candida

Candida is a strong and independent woman who has always been admired by those around her. She grew up in a supportive and loving family environment, which shaped her compassionate nature. Candida met Morell while he was a struggling poet, and her love and support helped him become a successful clergyman.

Morell

Morell comes from a modest background and has worked hard to establish himself as a respected clergyman. He values tradition and believes in the importance of fulfilling societal expectations. Morell's confidence is tested when Marchbanks enters their lives and challenges his beliefs about love and marriage.

Marchbanks

Marchbanks comes from a privileged background and has always been introspective and idealistic. He is a talented poet but lacks the confidence to pursue his dreams fully. Marchbanks is captivated by Candida's beauty and charisma, which fuels his infatuation with her.

Burgess

Burgess is a loyal employee who has worked for Morell for many years. He is practical and down-to-earth, providing a contrast to the more idealistic characters. Burgess is content with his role as a secretary but also offers valuable insights and advice to the other characters.

Lexy

Lexy is Candida's father and a successful businessman. He brings a worldly perspective to the play and challenges the characters to question societal expectations. Lexy's experiences in life have made him shrewd and wise, and he uses his wit to provide guidance to Candida, Morell, and Marchbanks.

Character Arcs

Candida

Throughout the play, Candida remains a central figure, but her character arc is more subtle compared to the other characters. Candida's arc revolves around her exploration of her own desires and the realization that she has the power to make her own choices. She evolves from being a passive recipient of affection to actively asserting herself and making decisions that align with her own needs and desires.

Morell

Morell undergoes a significant character arc as he grapples with his own insecurities and traditional beliefs. He starts as a confident and respected clergyman but is shaken by Marchbanks' affection towards Candida. Morell's arc involves questioning his own beliefs and ultimately realizing the importance of mutual love and respect in a marriage.

Marchbanks

Marchbanks' character arc is driven by his infatuation with Candida and his journey towards self-discovery. He starts as a sensitive and idealistic young man but becomes more assertive and confident as he learns to express his own desires. Marchbanks eventually realizes that his admiration for Candida is more about idealizing her than truly understanding her as a person.

Burgess

Burgess has a smaller character arc compared to the other characters. He remains a loyal and practical character throughout the play, offering insights and advice to the others. However, his interactions with the other characters allow him to develop a deeper understanding of human nature and the complexities of love and marriage.

Lexy

Lexy serves as a catalyst for the other characters' development rather than having a significant character arc himself. His wit and wisdom challenge the characters to question societal expectations and explore their own desires. Lexy's role is to provide guidance and perspective, allowing the characters to grow and evolve throughout the play.

Relationships

Candida and Morell

Candida and Morell have a loving and stable marriage at the beginning of the play. Morell sees Candida as his muse and relies on her support. However, their relationship is tested when Marchbanks enters their lives. They must confront their own insecurities and redefine their roles within the marriage.

Candida and Marchbanks

Marchbanks is infatuated with Candida and idealizes her. His admiration for her challenges Candida's perception of herself and her role in the marriage. Their relationship ultimately serves as a catalyst for Candida's self-discovery and assertion of her own desires.

Candida and Burgess

Candida and Burgess share a friendly and respectful relationship. Burgess serves as a confidant to Candida, providing practical advice and support. Their interactions highlight the contrast between the practical and emotional aspects of relationships.

Morell and Marchbanks

Morell and Marchbanks have a complex relationship fueled by jealousy and insecurity. Morell is threatened by Marchbanks' affection towards Candida, leading to tension and conflict between the two men. Their relationship explores the clash between traditional and idealistic views on love and marriage.

Morell and Burgess

Morell and Burgess share a close and loyal friendship. Burgess provides practical advice and observations to Morell, acting as a voice of reason and offering support. Their relationship highlights the importance of friendship and companionship in navigating through challenging situations.

Marchbanks and Burgess

Marchbanks and Burgess have a cordial relationship based on mutual respect. Burgess offers Marchbanks practical advice and observations, often serving as a source of guidance. Their interactions provide moments of comic relief and highlight the contrast between idealism and practicality.

Conclusion

In "Candida" by George Bernard Shaw, the characters play distinct roles in exploring the themes of love, marriage, and societal expectations. Candida, Morell, Marchbanks, Burgess, and Lexy each contribute to the narrative through their unique personalities, backgrounds, and character arcs. The relationships between these characters create conflicts, challenges traditional beliefs, and ultimately lead to self-discovery and growth. Shaw's play offers a thought-provoking exploration of love, marriage, and the complexities of human relationships.