What is the man versus man conflict in the play "Candida"?

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Karen P.L. Hardison eNotes educator| Certified Educator

There are two instances of the conflict of man versus man in George Bernard Shaw's celebrated play Candida. The first is between Marchbanks and Reverenc Morell. the second is between Candida and these two men.

In the first instance, the man versus man conflict is played as Marchbanks becomes enamored of Candida, Morell's wife, and sings her praises night and day in his dramatically poetic style. Marchbanks contends that Morell is to commonplace and unelevated in spirit to see what a goddess and poetic inspiration he has for a wife, thus making Morell wholly inadequate to giving her the praise and admiration she needs. The conflict is pushed to the limits and Candida must make a choice between the two.

In the second instance, Candida herself depicts the man versus man conflict in that she has a secret withheld from her husban, Reverend Morell, and it is that she is the one who controls the home (reminiscent of Nora in Ibsen's A Doll's House) and she is the one who has gained Morell's success in life for him--he is in reality an ieffectual pawn. Candida also depicts the conflict in her relationship with the poet Marchbanks. Candida is committed to her life as the Mrs. Reverend Morell yet Marchbanks sees the inner light and poetic truth of her deeper being. He draws this part of her to the light and incites conflict by tempting her to abandon what she is to become what she might be. Candida is forced by this man versus man conflict to choose. Her choice is ultimately for the Shavian ideal that service in life is greater than contentment.

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Candida

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