Shaw describes James Morell as a great baby pardonably vain of his powers and unconsciously pleased with himself. I have an assignment that requires me to critically comment on the above statement...

Shaw describes James Morell as a great baby pardonably vain of his powers and unconsciously pleased with himself.

I have an assignment that requires me to critically comment on the above statement and support my point of view with examples. 

Expert Answers
thanatassa eNotes educator| Certified Educator

George Bernard Shaw's play Candida was written in 1894 and reflects many of his philosophical ideas about gender. In particular, as in many of his works, he is arguing that women are the stronger gender and that, when forced by society into conventional marriages, they choose weak men they can dominate in order to exercise their strength.

In this play, the strongest character is, in a sense, Candida. While both the poet and the clergyman write and speak well, in a sense they are both equally ineffectual in practical matters. Both lack emotional maturity and the ability to manage relationships and make decisions.

Morrell, in particular, was spoiled as a child. Candida says:

Now I want you to look at this other boy here—MY boy—spoiled from his cradle.... Ask James's mother and his three sisters what it cost to save James the trouble of doing anything but be strong and clever and happy. Ask ME what it costs to be James's mother and three sisters and wife and mother to his children all in one.

What Candida is pointing out is that James is as helpless as a baby; he is unable to care for himself in terms of the basics of everyday life and relies on women to take care of him. Candida and Proserpine manage Morrell's household and the practical parts of his career so that all Morrell needs to do is be an impressive writer and speaker. This can also be seen in the way Proserpine manages Morrell's appointments at the beginning of the play.

coachingcorner eNotes educator| Certified Educator

In 'Candida' George Bernard Shaw's portrayal of James Morrell is conflicting. In some senses, this socialist Christian Reverend is shown a s strong. (He 'rescues' his wordly weaker ineffectual rival Eugene Marchbanks from sleeping rough.) Also, physically he is strong and energetic, unlike the wan and weedy Eugene Marchbanks! However, physical appearances seem not always to be the best indicator of personal strengths and attributes according to Shaw. Morrell is 'baby-like' in the sense that his emotional security seems to depend completely and solely on his wife - an unhealthy burden for any woman to carry. She supports him professionally and emotionally and he learns not to be in denial about this 'crutch.' All that he is,all that he will be is down to her.

Look for quotes in close reading of your text to support ways in which his smugness and dependency are related to these ideas.

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Candida

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