1. What seems to be the purpose of this play? Can you think of it as a representation of ideas? If so, which? To what extent is it also a play of action, or of character conflict?
2. What seems to be Shaw's relation to Ibsen and the problem play tradition? What issues do they both consider? (e. g. the woman question, the indissolubility of marriage) How does Shaw's portrayal differ from these?
3. Does Shaw see an opposition betwen social action and the aesthetic life? Can you think of other literary works from the 1890s which treat a similar theme? (e. g. Wilde's Dorian Grey, Grand's The Beth Book)
5. Do you find it well-written? What are some features of Shaw's style? Do you think this play is best read, or could it be well staged? Are the descriptions of place setting, appeance and character helpful, or do they improperly take the place of action or narrative? 12
6. How is this play concerned with the theme of marriage?
7. Which characters represent a particular social class or type of ideal? (e. g. Burgess, Marchbanks, p. 50, aesthetic ideal, Prasey, Alexander Mill, Candida)
8. Does this play have any parallels in real-life Victorian situations with which Shaw would have been connected? (e. g., Morris, Rossetti, Jane Burden relationships, but opposite outcome)
9. What do you think of the character of Candida? Do you think she is favorably presented? What are some of her attitudes and behaviors? (It has been argued both that her representation is an example of Shaw's favorable portrayal of women, and that she represents a biased stereotype.) (e. g., men "adore" her, want to be taken care of by her; she rules through affection, maternal; affects condescension while serving; uses babytalk, "my boy," 59; connected with the Virgin Mary, inspires worship, 65, 69; undercuts Morell's serious work in life, 55; laughs at hypocrisy--finds Marchbanks' declamations "moonshine"; chooses the "needy" man); "cunning," rules by engaging affections, 25)
10. What does Candida believe is the basic character of women? To what should they aspire to be, even if not physical mothers? Should they be as intellectual as men? Does she aspire to independence?
11. At the beginning of the play, on what assumptions are the marriage between Candida and Mr. Morell based? At the end?
12. To what extent does Shaw seem to be sympathetic to the Rev. Morell's politics? To what extent is he presented as worthy of respect? How do you know? (e. g. his views on Christianity and socialism, 60; his defensiveness in the face of Victorian opitimism; the fact that Burgess considers him a fool, which in the context of the play is a compliment)
13. What are some direct political references or forms of social commentary in the play? (e. g., 1, "mostly ploding uninterestedly about somebody else's work"; Burgess and cutrate jobbing, 21; firing of women in order to substitute machines)
14. Is Eugene sympathetically presented? What is Candida's relation to both men? Does she herself experience inner conflict?
15. What are the real bases of disagreement/difference between Morell and Marchbanks? (e. g., concern for the practical and for actual persons; 49, "How many servants does your father keep?")
16. Why do you think in a play ostensibly concerned with marriage, issues of sexually are essentially avoided? (If she had chosen a lover, the tone of the play would have drastically altered)
17. What does Marchbank criticize in Candida's domestic situation? (543, 558) Are his criticisms answered? (his remarks reduced to the belief that she shouldn't work, a romanticism as patronizing as Morell's)
18. Does this play challenge Victorian assumtions of gendered division of labor? Of women's role as a domestic facilitator?
19. What gives the play suspense or movement? (e. g. reversals, as all characters are undercut, then rehabilitated)
20. Are there serious improbabilities of plot? 36-37 Is it plausible that Morell becomes violent, and that the play's latent sexual issues dissolve? Do these reversals matter?
21. What do you make of the fact that the two men discuss their situation without Candida's presence? Why doesn't Morell just ask Candida her views?
22. To what extent does Candida really respond to Marchbanks? What is the basis of her interest in him?
23. Why does Candida make the choice she does? What Victorian assumptions underlie the play's approval of her choice? Can it be argued that the poet remains the play's ultimate hero? Are issues of the appropriateness of dissolving a marriage avoided?
24. (Candida chooses the role of supporting a "lesser" man, but the play never questions whether supporting a frail ego, and assisting a cleric to whose lifework she partially condescends, are legitimate goals. The two seem left in their bourgeoise affection as the poet goes forth to better things.)
25. Does the play reflect or lampoon the stereotype that women are jealous of each other? (Proserpine, Garnett)
26. What are some of the play's many topical references? (e. g. 11, what Morell read; 13, S. D. F., Fabians; 18, Women's Liberal Federation; 51, Hackney Road)
27. Is the conclusion satisfactory? Are the issues which it raises resolved? Could they have been resolved within such a comedy?
28. What makes so many of Shaw's one-liners humorous? (unpredictability, reversal of expectations, bluntness with harmlessness)
29. What are some general characteristics of comedy shared by this play? (concern with appearance vs. reality; reversals; stereotypes; social relationships; satire)
30. How would you describe the mode or genre of this play? Are there ways in which this play parodies conventional melodrama? Does it ever become intellectual farce?
31. Can this play be viewed as a blend of different genres? In what ways does it seem characteristic of its period?