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Last Updated on January 16, 2020, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 548

An honest man feels that he must pay Heaven for every hour of happiness with a good spell of hard, unselfish work to make others happy. We have no more right to consume happiness without producing it than to consume wealth without producing it.

In this quote early in the play, the Christian Socialist minister James Morell (whom Shaw describes as a “great baby”) is praising his wife to his curate, Lexy. Candida gives Morell great happiness, so he must work diligently to share this happiness with others. While this quote demonstrates that Morell’s honorable intention to pay forward the joy he receives, there is more truth in the idea that Candida provides happiness for him than he realizes: he is unaware that he is weak and spoiled and that Candida stays with him in order to take care of him. As she reveals at the end, Candida has enabled all of Morell’s success through her support and care. 

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You have been annoying him. Now I won’t have it, Eugene: do you hear? . . . My boy shall not be worried: I will protect him.

While the true nature of Candida’s provision for Morell—that it is only because of her that he is as successful as he is—is not revealed until the very end, Shaw provides glimpses of it at various points throughout the play. This quote is from one such instance: Candida has walked in on an argument between Morell and Marchbanks, and upon observing that Morell is distressed, she rushes to him, scolds Marchbanks, and defends Morell. Morell is taken aback by her vow to “protect” him, for he still views himself as Candida’s protector. It is interesting to note Candida’s use of the endearment “my boy” for her husband: she addresses Morell with the same words that Morell uses to address Lexy. When Morell uses these words for Lexy, it is in a fatherly tone. Candida, likewise, assumes a motherly tone when she addresses Morell in this way, revealing the fact that she takes care of him far more than he realizes. 

I have nothing to offer you but...

(The entire section contains 548 words.)

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