What is the character analysis of James Morell in Candida?

Quick answer:

James Morell is a conventional middle-class clergyman with progressive politics, who takes his wife Candida for granted. He is confident in his worthiness of her devotion and is initially incredulous about the younger poet Eugene Marchbanks' affections for her. Morell competes with Marchbanks for Candida, overlooking her autonomy. Ultimately, Candida stays with Morell, recognizing his dependence on her and his good nature, though he struggles to fully appreciate her independence.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

James Morell is a very conventional middle-class clergyman who sees himself as exceptional because he is a writer with progressive politics. His knack is for presenting his socialist views boiled down into easily understood form, which makes him a popular lecturer for his social set. Morell devotes himself to his writing to the exclusion of almost all else. He loves his wife but takes her for granted. Morell also has a secretary, Miss Garrett, who loves him and his work almost indistinguishably.

Because Morell takes Candida for granted, he is certain that he deserves her devotion. Initially he is incredulous that she might be tempted by the attention of a younger, passionate poet, Eugene Marchbanks, and doubts her when she tells him that Marchbanks is falling in love with her. Nevertheless, as Marchbanks reveals his crush, Morell enters into a contest with him over Candida. Their disagreements basically overlook her completely, until she becomes exasperated and points out that she does not “belong” to either man.

Shaw has overdrawn the contrast between Morell and Marchbanks to make them fit his ideal categories of reason and passion, intellect and emotion. Ultimately, Candida decides to stay with her husband because she knows he is dependent on her and she believes in his essentially good nature and the positive value of his works.

Morell seems at the end to appreciate her more but still cannot quite fathom that she has made her own choice and still retains her independence of spirit within the bounds of their marriage.

See eNotes Ad-Free

Start your 48-hour free trial to get access to more than 30,000 additional guides and more than 350,000 Homework Help questions answered by our experts.

Get 48 Hours Free Access
Approved by eNotes Editorial