Why does Candida decide to stay with Morrell?

Quick answer:

Candida decides to stay with Morrell because he needs her. She also understands that a relationship with Marchbanks would not last because it would depend on naïve ideas of romance.

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In George Bernard Shaw’s play, Candida Morrell is flattered by the young poet Eugene Marchbanks’s romantic interest in her, but she does not intend to abandon her home and her family. Candida had not considered leaving her husband prior to Marchbanks’s suggestions that she run off with him. She is satisfied with her life, even though she acknowledges that her husband, James, sometimes takes her for granted. She explains to both men that she will stay with James because he needs her.

Candida is an intelligent and practical person who shares her husband’s philosophies and admires his commitment to good causes. She is also several years older than Marchbanks and understands his love as a crush. While he considers his passionate adoration of her as the beginnings of undying love, she can see that the heat of passion will soon fade. The youth is in love with the idea of love and has no concept of what it takes to sustain a relationship.

In the scene when the three of them hash out their futures, Candida is more than a little annoyed when the men act as if they are entitled to choose her, rather than acknowledging that she is the one to decide between them. As she explains, there is really no serious contest. Her ongoing devotion to James includes her sense of responsibility as a wife and mother, but her desire to be with him is based on both of their individual characteristics. He needs her, and she needs to be needed.

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