Eugene Marchbanks, an eighteen-year-old poet, the nephew of an earl. Having left Oxford, Marchbanks is found sleeping outdoors by Morell, who brings him home. Marchbanks proceeds to fall in love with Morell’s lovely wife, Candida. Marchbanks is slight, effeminate, frightened, and painfully sensitive, but he has the genuine poet’s insight into human motivations. He is sure that his own helplessness and inadequacy will prove irresistible to a woman so purely feminine as Candida. He is horrified that Candida must dirty her hands working around the house. Unable to understand what a woman could find to love in Morell, Marchbanks demands that Candida be given a chance to choose between them. When confronted with the choice, Candida says she chooses “the weakest.” Marchbanks at once understands why Candida loves Morell: He is even more in need of maternal care and pampering than is Marchbanks. Suddenly a man, Marchbanks leaves to get about his work, after thanking Morell for giving Candida so much opportunity to love.
Candida, the wife of the Reverend James Morell. She is attractive enough to charm men into doing her will, and her use of the feminine advantages is ennobled by dignity and intelligence. Taught by her husband to think for herself, Candida does so, to her husband’s distress. She suggests to him that perhaps she should make love to Marchbanks lest some bad woman do it and...
(The entire section is 538 words.)