Act 2

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Last Updated November 3, 2023.

Later in the afternoon, Proserpine enters the sitting room to continue work while Marchbanks plays around on the typewriter. He assumes she is writing love letters on the typewriter and having love affairs, offending Proserpine. He complains that he cannot find love himself due to a "horrible shyness" that strangles him when he tries to speak.

Proserpine denies Marchbank's insistence that she must have a love of her own, so Marchbanks asks if she's in love with Morell. Proserpine finds this ridiculous, and her reactions lead Marchbanks to question if anyone could even love Morell, stating that he sees "nothing in him but words, pious resolutions, what people call goodness." As Proserpine assures Marchbanks that it is very possible for a woman to love Morell, Burgess returns to the sitting room.

Burgess claims that he has come back to keep Marchbanks company. Proserpine leaves, and the two men begin to discuss Morell's peculiarities. Morell himself enters, and they begin to discuss how many servants Morell keeps. Morell claims that it's easier for him and Proserpine to do most of the work themselves, prompting Marchbanks to snidely comment that that must mean that Candida's "beautiful fingers are dabbling in paraffin oil," viewing it as a mistreatment of Candida.

Candida appears and seems to confirm this sentiment, telling Morell that he hasn't been "looking after the house properly." Marchbanks again distresses over Candida being made to do any work, and he leaves with Candida to slice onions in the kitchen. Burgess leaves to smoke outside, and Proserpine runs out of the room, leaving Morell alone to work.

When Candida returns, she begins to fuss over her husband, telling him that he looks "pale," "grey," "wrinkled," and "old" and asks him to stop overworking himself. She accuses Prosperine of being in love with Morell, claiming that it is the only reason she's willing to do so many chores with him.

Candida admits to Morell that she feels bad for Marchbanks, as all her love and care goes towards Morell, and there's none left for Marchbanks, even though Marchbanks "needs it so much more" than Morell does. She reveals that she's aware of Marchbanks' love for her, but she thinks that Marchbanks himself has "no suspicion" of it and is unaware.

As Morell becomes increasingly distressed, Marchbanks and Burgess re-enter the sitting room. Marchbanks begins crying, saying that he "hates cruelty" and doesn't want to watch Candida's "torture" of Morell. Lexy, the curate, enters the room and informs everyone that he received a telegram from Morell canceling a lecture scheduled for that evening, shocking everyone as Morell never cancels his lectures.

Morell insists that he canceled because he wants one night off to rest with his family and friends, but nobody believes this. Candida suggests they all go and watch him give the speech, but Marchbanks declines the invitation, saying that he's simply shy. Morell decides to give the lecture after all, but he forbids both Marchbanks and Candida from attending.

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Act 1


Act 3