The Bishop’s Candlesticks by Norman McKinnell is a well-known play. The drama “The Bishop’s Candlesticks” has three main themes: love, kindness, and redemption.
Norman McKinnel’s play “The Bishop’s Candlesticks” is based on a scene from Victor Hugo’s play “Les Miserables.” It’s about how a small act of kindness can transform a condemned criminal into a man.
A convict breaks into a Bishop’s house and demands food, endangering the Bishop’s life in the process. The Bishop not only provides him with food and shelter, but also his sympathy. Instead of being appreciative, the convict steals the Bishop’s cherished treasures, the candlesticks, and flees. A Sergeant quickly apprehends him and brings him before the Bishop. The Bishop, on the other hand, claims to have given the inmate the candlesticks as a present and demands that he be released. This small gesture restores the convict’s trust in mankind and persuades him to resume living a moral life.
The play depicts how criminals are not born, but rather become criminals as a result of their surroundings.
About The Author
Norman Mckinnel was an engineer from Scotland. However, he took to the stage and rose to success as an actor. On February 10, 1870, he was born. Maxwelltown, Scotland, is where he was born.
He received his studies at Edinburg and then at the University of Leipzig in Germany. His father worked as an engineer as well. Norman’s father wished for him to pursue a career as an engineer. Norman, on the other hand, had a completely different taste. Attracted to the theatre, he abandoned his engineering studies and joined Otho Stuart’s Company, where he acted on stage at the tender age of 24.
Mckinnel had a long and successful career as an actor, spanning more than 30 years. He played King Lear in Shakespeare’s King Lear, Morell in Shaw’s Candida, and John Anthony in Galsworthy’s Strife, among other notable parts.
A scene in the Bishop’s kitchen opens the play.
While soup is cooking on the stove, Bishop’s younger sister Persome and maid servant Marie are engaged in conversation. Persome is concerned that her brother went out in the bitter weather. When she discovers that her brother has gone to see Marie’s ailing mother, she explodes with rage at the people who have been bothering him.
Because her brother had already sold his estate, furnishings, and other belongings to help the poor and needy, Persome’s rage is justified. Persome is even more taken aback when he learns that the Bishop has sold off his silver salt-cellars to help another sick lady pay her rent.
The Bishop arrives quickly and assigns Marie to look after her mother. To keep her warm in the cold, he lends her his comforter. “You’ll sell your candlesticks next,” Persome exclaims, enraged. The Bishop praises her for the suggestion, however he admits that the candlesticks are his prized possessions, a gift from his deceased mother, and he doesn’t want to give them up.
Persome departs, and the Bishop retires to his study to read. It’s past midnight now. A prisoner enters the room quietly, seizes the Bishop from behind, and demands food. If the Bishop raises an alarm, he threatens to kill him. The Bishop appears unfazed by the situation. He addresses the convict as “son” and wakes his sister to bring him food and drink. He also calms Persome, who was terrified when he saw the convict’s dagger in his hand.
The inmate gorges himself on the meal. The inmate warms up to the Bishop after eating and tells him his tragic experience. He informs the Bishop that he used to be a regular guy.
He had a wife and a house, but he was unemployed. As a result, he cheated to feed his ailing wife. He was apprehended and was sentenced to five years in prison. He was shackled and tortured violently, and he was fed garbage. The Bishop consoles him and offers him a place to stay for the night. Persome discovers the convict and the silver candlesticks are missing the next morning. She raises an alarm and reports the theft to the Bishop. The Bishop is enraged, yet he refuses to call the cops. Soon after, a Sergeant appears, accompanied by two soldiers and the chained criminal. The convict had been apprehended on suspicion of stealing the Bishop’s candlesticks. The Bishop informs the cops that the inmate was a friend of his and that he had given him the candlesticks. The cops release the inmate and leave. The inmate is taken aback by such generosity. He promises to change his ways and start again. The Bishop blesses him and presents him with the candlesticks. He reveals a backdoor to Paris, where the inmate can live a safe and respected life.
Bishop: He is a noble and humble man who is always willing to assist anyone in need. He possesses all of the qualities that make a good human being. When he heard the convict’s narrative, he expressed pity for him. He learns that the convict’s attitude has deteriorated as a result of his inhumane treatment in prison. Even after the felon stole his candlesticks, he treats him like a buddy. He also got him away from the Sergeant by lying to him. He gives the inmate his candlesticks and assists him in getting to Paris. The Bishop’s deeds demonstrate that he is truly a “man of God.”
Person: She is Bishop’s younger sister. She lacked her brother’s generosity and kindness, and she was a materialist. She believes that the people have abused the bishop’s simplicity and nobility. She acts in an obnoxious manner toward underprivileged people.
Convict: Before he became a criminal, he had a normal life. He didn’t believe in religion. He had meted out heavy punishment, rendering him heartless and soulless, but the bishop’s noble demeanour persuaded him otherwise. He assured Bishop that he would begin his life over.
Bishop Always Ready to Help Others
The Bishop is always willing to assist his parishioners who are in need. He goes to see Marie’s mother, who is not feeling well. He’s out in the cold and hungry. To help Mere Gringoire pay her rents, he sells his salt cellars. Persome, his sister, believes that her brother is a con artist who takes advantage of every idle wanderer and old lying woman. He has sold his land and furniture, as well as all of his funds, in order to assist others. Persome believes that her brother’s charity and naivety are being exploited by the parishioners. The Bishop, on the other hand, believes that the world is full of sorrow and that he can do little to help those who are suffering.
Convict Enters Stealthily with a Knife
With a long knife, the inmate enters and seizes the Bishop from behind. He warns the Bishop not to play him for a fool. He’s far too old to be caught in chaff. When Persome notices a knife in his hand, she is terrified. The inmate is looking them down like a ferocious beast. Persome is asked by the Bishop to entertain the visitor during supper. The inmate gorges himself and throws a bone on the floor. Persome returns to her room after leaving the Bishop with the convict. The convict then tells his narrative.
Convict Narrates His Tragic Story
The convict formerly had a small hut and a wife. Then there was the dreadful year. He was unemployed and cash-strapped. Jeanette, his wife, became unwell. She was on her deathbed. He stole in order to feed her. He was taken into custody. He begged them to forgive him for stealing, but they laughed at him. He was given a ten-year term in the hulks of jail. He learned that Jeanette had died the night before he was sentenced.
Life in ‘Hell’
He was no longer a guy. He mutated into a ferocious beast. He was chained like a savage beast by the jail employees. They whipped him around like a hound. He ate filth and was coated in vermin. They removed his soul and replaced it with a devil. However, they were negligent one day, and he was able to flee.
Convict Steals Bishop’s Silver Candlesticks
The inmate learns that he is in the company of a Bishop. He cautions him about attempting to convert him. He doesn’t want anything to do with religion or the church. He is asked to retire to his bed by the Bishop. When the inmate is left alone, he notices the silver candlesticks. His mother had handed them to the Bishop, he knew. His heart begins to soften. But he quickly hardens, steals the candlesticks, and disappears into the darkness.
Convict is Caught and Brought Back to Bishop
The candlesticks and the convict are disappeared when Persome and the Bishop wake up the next morning. They soon hear a knocking. A sergeant with three soldiers and a chained inmate enters. According to the sergeant, they discovered him (the convict) wandering down the street with the candlesticks. He was detained on suspicion. They had identified the Bishop’s candlesticks and had brought them to him. The criminal is saved by the Bishop, who claims that the candlesticks were given to him as a gift. The prisoner is set free once more.
Convict is Transformed
The Bishop intervenes to prevent the criminal from returning to “hell.” The criminal is deeply affected by this. Now he is a completely different person. He is no longer a wild animal. He sobs and begs forgiveness. The Bishop hands him the candlesticks, which the inmate accepts with awe. The Bishop leads him through the woods behind his cottage to a lonely path that leads to Paris. Soldiers dislike walking alone in the dark. “This miserable body is the Temple of the Living God,” the Bishop says, blessing the inmate.
The drama ‘The Bishop’s Candlesticks’ concludes that we can even turn monsters into gentlemen with love and understanding. The Bishop’s loving, caring, and compassionate demeanour with the inmate transforms him into a good human being by the conclusion of the play.
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