Candida by George Bernard Shaw is a typically Shavian paradoxical play in which the initial expectations of the audience are undermined. Eugene Marchbanks is a typical Romantic poet, rather in the mode of Shelley or Byron. He is still quite young, only 18, the nephew of an earl, and absurdly impractical on the surface. He also immediately falls in love with Candida, wife to Reverend James Morell, who appears a typical admirable Victorian, successful, energetic, popular, and active in philanthropy.
Eugene initially appears a sort of Don Juan figure or typical young Romantic hero, effeminate and charming, in contrast with the muscular Christianity of Morrell. Eugene assumes that Candida will end up falling in love with him because of her feminine (maternal, nurturing) instincts which will lead her to want to take care of him. The paradoxical part of his character is revealed as Shaw has Candida choose Morrell because Morrell is actually the weaker of the two men, lacking the clear and distinct sense of self and purpose that Eugene has gained from his devotion to poetry and belief in himself as a writer. Eugene learns from Candida to appreciate his own strength and to see his own impracticality and artistic nature as strengths rather than weaknesses.