At the end of Act I, Reverend Morell is bragging about his and Candida’s happy marriage to the young poet Marchbanks, who is unmarried. The younger man challenges this notion and insists on settling something between them: “I love your wife,” he declares. George Bernard Shaw’s stage directions state that
Morell recoils, and, after staring at him for a moment in utter amazement, bursts into uncontrollable laughter.
Continuing to laugh, he sits down and speaks condescendingly to Marchbanks, noting that “everybody loves her.” Given the ten-year age difference, he dismisses it as “calf love” (like “puppy love”) and criticizes Marchbanks’s foolishness. The younger man calls Morell out on his “complacent superiority,” claiming that Morell is willfully unaware of the passions that Candida can inspire and rejecting Morell’s claim that his love is not real or meaningful. “Do you think that the...
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