IN CANDIDA SHAW HAS TURNED THE ETERNAL TRIANGLE UPSIDE DOWN
Candida is one of the most aesthetically gratifying play of Shaw. Its purpose is to expose the hollowness of conventional respectability and its ideal of happiness. The theme of the play prima-facie eyes seems to be the story of the eternal triangle and its paradoxical treatment. The story of the eternal triangle has been narrated by a number of novelists, story writers and dramatists. And no wonder the story of eternal triangle hitherto draws the attention of juvenile as well as the run of the mill readers and audience. Shaw has used the common situation or story as the basis of the play. But interestingly Shaw has treated it in an entirely different and original way. The common situation or a story is generally called the eternal triangle. It is a situation in which two men are in love with the same woman. Usually a woman already married to one of them. In the customary treatment of this theme the woman becomes secretly involved with the second man and for the while husband is unsuspecting. But the husband at length discovers the intrigue. There is a high dramatic and emotional scene in which the caring wife either repents and parts from her lover or is cast of by her husband and left to continue the illicit relation.
Shaw has treated the eternal love theme in quite a different way. He has really turned down the traditional modus vivendi of the lovers and a lady. Candida is the most outstanding, the most sensible and the most reasonable lady. She loves her husband Morell and has sympathy for the young poet March Banks. It is out of pity for his pitiable plight that she takes much care of his sentiments. But in spite of his monotonous life and the drudgeries of work she doesn’t have abominable feelings for her husband. March Banks lashes out at Morell for his indifference and non-caring attitude towards Candida. He (Morell) takes his verson very lightly and calls him a mooncalf. Morell has so much confidence and faith in his wife Candida that he doesn’t feel even an iota of danger for March Banks. He does at all consider him to be his rival in love. Candida is always guided by her common sense instead of accepting the old traditional role of a woman who allows herself to be quarrelled over by two men she acts in her own original way. Her wit and intelligence deserve plaudits. Instead of being lauded over by the loves she writes rough shod her decision on Morell and March Banks. She takes the situation under her control and brings their dispute to an immediate end. Morell wants her choice and preference between him and March Banks. She ironically addresses them as her lord and masters, she tells them since she is going to be auctioned what are the things and comforts which they are to offer her. Morell with proud humility says that he has nothing to offer her but his strength for her defence, his honesty for her surety and ability and industry. For her livelihood and his authority and position for her dignity. And that is all it becomes a man to offer to a woman. March Banks can offer her only his weakness, his desolation and heart’s need. He desperately tells Candida, “I no longer desire, happiness life is noble than that, I give you my happiness with both hands”.
Candida asks March Banks to some of the sentence, “when I am thirty she will be forty-five, when I am sixty she will be seventy-five”. After writing this sentences March Banks tells Candida that after a hundred years both of them will be dead and buried in the grave. Candida decides that she will give herself over to the weaker of the two. Morell feels that he is lost because he considers March Banks to be the weaker one. But it soon becomes clear that Morell is the weaker of the two for he is emotionally dependent for love and security on his wife. And he can’t stand on his feet. The fear of loosing Candida makes him cry and he says, “you are my wife, my mother and my sister”.
Candida decides to stay with Morell, her husband and the lover goes out alone. Candida is not unfaithful but loyal and devoted to her husband up to the very end. There is no sex intrigue, the purity of whom is maintained and the marriage is not broken up as in the case with the conventional treatment of the eternal love triangle. Shaw has really turned the theme of a eternal triangle upside down.