The play,‟ Bishop‟s Candlesticks‟ deals with a convict and a benevolent Bishop who„s always ready to help anyone in distress. Bishop‟s sister, Persome, however, feels that the Bishop‟s simplicity and nobility of character is taken advantage of by the people, of the parish, who under false pretexts rob him off his belongings. The convict, on the other hand, went into prison for stealing money to buy food for his sick wife and was arrested and sentenced to rigorous punishment. He escaped one day filled with despair, hopelessness and bitterness, at his unjust treatment. He had become hard-hearted and unscrupulous. A stroke of luck, however, brought him to the Bishop‟s house, who treated him with kindness and provided him with food and shelter for the night, despite the suspicion and frequent threats to life by the convict. The convict however, repaid the Bishop‟s kindness by running away with his most cherished possession, i.e. a pair of silver candlesticks, bequeathed to him by his mother. When caught by the sergeant and brought back to the Bishop, later on, the Bishop introduced him as his friend to the sergeant. The convict was full of remorse, for what he‟d done. Deeply penitent, he sought the Bishop‟s blessing before leaving. The noble act of the Bishop, reforms the convict to a belief, in the spirit of god, that dwells in the heart of every human being.
There is no doubt that “Bishop‟s Candlesticks” unfolds inherent characteristics of Christianity. A bishop unfolds what it really means to be a Bishop. Compassion, love, being benevolent etc. are the key facets which are skillfully woven by the author. Kindness to all irrespective of class, creed and status is what goes as the bottom line. The convict wrapped in devilish thoughts and a true atheist turns into a true believer of Christianity.
a) Do you think the Bishop was right in selling the salt sellers? Why / Why not?
A. Aptly Bishop was right in selling the salt sellers. Being benevolent is the true nature of a bishop. Indeed, the Bishop acted as a true helper to Mere Gringoire in spite of Persome‟s ill feeling towards her. “Service to people is service to god” has been justified when mere Grengoire, who had been in dire need of money, was helped by the Bishop. He sold the silver salt sellers to help Mere Gringoire
b) Why does Persome feel the people pretend to be sick?
A. Persome is pole asunder to her brother in characteristics. She never approved her brother‟s habit of being philanthropist. She even had a notion that people exploit her brother as a Bishop. They misuse the bishop‟s simplicity, innocence and honesty. People are of the habit to call the bishop unnecessarily pretending to be sick. They never think about the troubles of Bishop.
c) Who was Jeanette? What was the cause of her death?
A. Jeanette was the better half of the convict. Once, the convict and his family suffered from acute starvation. There had not been any work for the people. As a result the wife of the convict fell ill. Compelled by the situation, the convict had no other option but to steal. He was caught and put in the jail. And his wife died due to sickness caused by starvation.
d) The convict says, “I am told a bird to be caught with chaff”. What does he mean by this statement?
A. The convict has gone through a vexatious period where he confronted only brutal treatment, merciless torture and no love and faith. When the bishop told him that he would go inside to bring the keys to give him food, he considered this to be a trick to get him caught and be arrested. He warned the bishop not to leave, as he conceded this to be a trick to get him caught.
e) Why was the convict sent to prison? What was the punishment given to him?
A. In a dire state of starvation the convict and his family had been suffering. When his wife fell seriously ill, the convict could not keep his head and stole food to save his wife. As a consequence he was caught and brought before the court of law. The authority did not concur with his feelings and reasoning and convicted him for stealing. The authority punished him for ten years. He was ordered to stay as a prisoner in a prison hulks.
f) Do you think the punishment given to the convict was justified? Why?/ Why not?
A. Considering the moral ground, the convict should have not been punished. Though there is no denying that every criminal must be punished in the court of law, the convict cannot be called as a criminal in true sense. The adverse condition the convict had been suffering from, constrained him to steal food to save his wife. He must have been pardoned considering the situation of his stealing food.
g) Before leaving, the convict asks the Bishop to bless him. What brought about this change in him?
A. Indeed, the drama adduces a transformation of an atheist into a theist. The convict at the beginning proclaimed his hatred and strong dislike towards church and preaching. But, the Bishop, with simple messages like, kindness, sympathy, love soothed his sore heart and brought back human sensibilities in him. At the end the Bishop showed the highest level of mercy and compassion and made him feel the power of love and mercy. His journey to Paris was a new beginning to him. To walk on the new path for a better life, he thought blessing from the Bishop would do him good.
Short answer type questions
Q1. What do you think are the situations that can be termed as the turning points in the convict‟s life?
Ans: There are many turning points in the convict‟s life. His arrest on having stolen the food is the first important turning point in his life. The encounter with the Bishop, his arrest for having stolen the Bishop‟s candlesticks and the Bishop‟s magnanimity in saving him from the police and gifting him his candlesticks are other tuning points in his life
Q2.What had happened to the salt cellars?
Ans. Mere Gringoire was an old lady who was unable to pay the house rent. The Bishop asked Marie to sell the salt cellar for him. He used the money to pay off the poor woman‟s house rent.
Q3.What does the convict tell him about his life before imprisonment?
Ans. He had a cottage with vines growing. He had a wife but she was ill. They had a bad year and there was no food to eat. He had to steal some food for her.
Q4: What treatment did the convict receive in prison?
Ans. The convict received inhuman treatment. They whipped him, fed him with unhealthy food, made him sleep on cold hard boards.
Q5: What effect did such inhuman treatment have on the convict?
Ans. The convict felt hurt and afraid. Soon they broke down his spirit. He became just a number and forgot his earlier life. He even lost the ability to pray, for he says, he lost his soul.
Q6: What happened to him after his escape from jail?
Ans. The wardens were looking for him. He had nowhere to go, no food to eat. He even had to steal the clothes that he was wearing.
Q7.How does the Bishop and Persome react when they learn that the candlesticks are stolen?
Ans. Persome reacts violently. She shouts and is very upset. The Bishop is also upset but he blames himself for exposing the convict to the temptation.
Q8.What does the Bishop tell the sergeant?
Ans. The sergeant sees the convict moving stealthily and arrests him. He brings the convict along with the stolen candlesticks to the Bishop‟s house. But the Bishop tells him that the convict is his friend and the
silver candlesticks were a gift from him.
Q9. What significant role did the Bishop‟s Candlesticks play?
Ans. The candle sticks were a dying gift from the Bishop‟s mother. They reminded him of her. But when the convict received them as a gift, they become symbols of hope and life. The convict now believed in the goodness of life and lead a steady life
Q10. What‟s the character of the Bishop in the Bishop‟s candlesticks?
Ans. He is generous and altruist. He has unselfish attitude. He is a noble person remains always ready to help others in their hard times .He is also gentle and kind hearted. His house is always open for needy people.
Q11. Do you think the Bishop was right in selling the salt-cellars? Why / Why not?
Ans: Bishop was right in selling the salt-cellars. As an ideal priest, he could not bear the thought of an old, ailing lady to be thrown out of her house because she cannot pay the rent. He sells the salt-cellars to pay the money, to this woman so that she may pay her rent. This act of kindness beholds a priest like him. It is another thing that worldly-wise people like Persome do not approve of.
12 . Why does Persome feel the people pretend to be sick?
Ans. Persome is not as generous as her brother. She feels the people pretend to be sick in order to exploit
her brother‟s (Bishop‟s) magnanimity. People want the Bishop to be near them and help them financially.
Q13. Who was Jeanette? What was the cause of her death?
Ans. Jeanette was the convict‟s wife. She fell ill. As the convict had no work and no money; he could not treat or even feed her. She died of starvation. The convict had almost forgotten her due to his loss of faith
in all human relationships.
Please click on below link to download CBSE Class 9 English Bishops Candlesticks Worksheet