Discuss Candida as the ‘Play of Ideas’.

George Bernard Shaw is famous for his plays being ‘Play of Ideas’. Instead of conflict of wills, his plays are conflict of ideas and speech. In his plays, no solution to the problems discussed is offered and is left to the viewer to judge. His views about love, marriage, economics and religion were different from others. So his plays portrait a combination of opposing views to the problem.

Socialism vs Capitalism

Shaw was a strong contender of socialism, political freedom and economic equality. He did not want society to change overnight but through slow and gradual processes. According to him, capitalism is successful in the long run whereas socialism is the long term solution to economic stability. In Candida, Shaw has used Morell to express his views on socialism.

Necessity of Higher Education

By presenting a character like Alexander Mill, Shaw has exposed the hollowness of the present education system which focuses on imparting education to the youth on conventional lines rather than encouraging them to be innovative. In Candida, an Oxford-educated person like Alexander Mill or Lexy imitates Morell rather than developing his own personality.

Relationship between an employer and an employee

This problem has been presented in various instances throughout the play. The discussion between Morell and Burgess highlights the ill-treatment of labour by Burgess. It shows how Burgess engages women and child labour, make them work for more than normal hours and pays them lower than normal wages. On the other hand, instances like tying a handkerchief around the curate’s neck and not getting angry with the typist for calling father-in-law as ‘a silly old fathead’ shows the casual and friendly relationship between Morell and his staff.

Marriage vs Romance

The main theme of the play revolves around this issue. What is more important for a woman – to live with a husband even when they are mutually incompatible or to walk out with a lover with whom she is compatible. The discussions between Morell-Marchbanks, Marchbanks-Candida, Candida-Morell and finally the auction scene highlight the issue. The illusion that the husband is superior to the wife is shattered in the play. The illusion that romance is superior to the institution of marriage is also shattered in the play.

Religion

Shaw was against the concept of organised religion. To him, religion meant not the Supreme God but the Supreme Force behind everything. He was an atheist. In ‘Candida’, he had used Burgess, Marchbanks and Candida to express his views about the hollowness of organised religion and its preaching.

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