Places: Candida

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: 1897

First produced: 1897

Type of work: Drama

Type of plot: Comedy

Time of work: 1894

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Hackney

*Hackney. CandidaUnfashionable middle-class district in northeastern London; an unattractive place, with miles of unlovely brick houses, black iron railings, stony pavements, and gray slate-roofed buildings. Most houses have front gardens whose lawns are divided by pathways from their front gates to their hall doors. Near the end of Hackney Road is Victoria Park, 217 acres of open space fenced by wooden paling. It has plenty of open grass fields, trees, a lake for swimmers, flowerbeds, and a sandpit for children to play in. A bandstand, cricket pitches, and a gymnasium are also among the park’s attractions. The parsonage has a good view over the park from its front window.

Victoria Park is still an important open space in Hackney, with most of the features described by Shaw. Mare Street–the location of a public hall in which Morell is to speak on the evening in which the play takes place–is the left hand roadway at the park end of Hackney Road.

St. Dominic’s parsonage

St. Dominic’s parsonage. Hackney home of the Christian Socialist clergyman James Morell and his wife, Candida. Located only three minutes by horse-drawn Hansom cab from a train station, the parsonage is a semidetached building with a front garden and a flight of steps leading up from the path. The tradesmen’s entrance is down steps to the basement, which has a breakfast room in the front, used for all meals, as the formal dinning room is used as a meeting room, and a kitchen in the back. There are other rooms on an upper floor, including bedrooms.

The drawing room on the ground floor, where Morell works, has a large window overlooking Victoria. This room is furnished with a long table across the window with a revolving chair at one end where Morell habitually sits so that he can gaze at the park. The table is littered with pamphlets, letters, journals, nests of drawers and an office diary. A smaller table at the other end bears a typewriter, and Morell’s typist, Miss Proserpine Garrett, sits at the table with her back to the window. There is a chair for visitors in the center of the room.

The parsonage’s furniture is unpretentious, as would be expected in the home of a parson of limited means. The wall to the left of the window is fitted with bookshelves containing theological books. On the opposite wall is the entry door, and next to it, opposite the fireplace is a bookcase standing on a cabinet, near a sofa. A generous fire is burning in the fireplace with a comfortable armchair and a black japanned coal-scuttle to one side of the hearth; a miniature chair for children stands on the other. The hearth is surrounded by a fender and a rug lies on the floor before it. The mantle piece is made of varnished wood with neatly molded shelves, tiny bits of mirror let into the panels, and a traveling clock in a leather case on it. Above the fireplace hangs an autotype of the chief figure in Titian’s painting Assumption of the Virgin, chosen because Morell imagines a spiritual resemblance between the Virgin and his own wife that indicates the moral purity he believes his wife has.

Apart from the cluttered table, the room is neat and clean. This indicates a difference in the personalities of Reverend Morell and his wife.

BibliographyCarpenter, Charles A. “Critical Comedies.” In Bernard Shaw and the Art of Destroying Ideals: The Early Plays. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1969. Treats Candida as a sentimental comedy and discusses the conflict of ideals in the play. Devotes much space to an analysis of Candida’s character and to her ability to use sympathy to dominate the other characters in the play.Crompton, Louis. “Candida.” In Shaw the Dramatist. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 1969. Discusses the social, philosophical, and especially historical backgrounds of Candida. A clear presentation of Shaw’s ideas and their sources in the nineteenth century intellectual tradition.Holroyd, Michael. Bernard Shaw: The Search for Love. New York: Random House, 1988. This first volume of the standard biography of Shaw details the connections between Shaw’s life and thought and his works. Indispensable.Merritt, James D. “Shaw and the Pre-Raphaelites.” In Shaw: Seven Critical Essays, edited by Norman Rosenblood. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 1971. Focuses on the character of Marchbanks and on the various references in the play to art, which Merritt relates to the Pre-Raphaelites and the art-for-art’s-sake movement of the 1890’s.Stanton, Stephen. A Casebook on Candida. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1962. Very useful as an introduction to the play. Contains not only the text of the play and its sources but also selected prefaces and notes by Shaw and a wide variety of brief interpretations and criticism.
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