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Summary

The play The Bishop's Candlesticks by Norman Mckinnell is built on a very simple plot involving characters like The Bishop, the convict, the Bishop's sister, Marie and others. The plot of the play revolves around a story that brings forth the themes of Christian virtues like love and redemption.
The play unfolds through a series of dialogues between Persome, the Bishop's sister and Marie, the maid servant regarding the whereabouts of the Bishop. Through a thorough questioning, the Bishop's sister is able to sense that the Bishop may have gone to do his usual philanthropic activities nearby. She feels that the simplicity and nobility of the Bishop is being misused by people and the Bishop falls an easy prey due to his innocence.
After some time Persome comes to know that the salt cellars which were gifted by her mother has been given away by the Bishop to help Mere Gringore pay her rent and save her from imminent eviction.
Persome has an argument with the Bishop regarding his undue innocence. She makes him promise not to give away the candlesticks to any body in future. Having said that she goes to sleep.
In the subsequent scenes, the play takes an interesting turn. The entry of a stranger is mentioned. The stranger is the convict who carries a long knife and seizes the Bishop from behind. The convict asks for food and threatens to kill him in case he informs others about his presence. The convict reveals his true identity to the Bishop. The Bishop comes to know about the circumstances by which the stranger became a convict,the torture meted out to him by the police and so on and so forth. During the convict's stay in the Bishop's house, he comes across the silver candle sticks. The Bishop tells him that how his mother gave these candle sticks to him and his sister at the time of her death. Ultimately, the convict is unable to resist his temptation and he runs away with the candle sticks.
Persome, the Bishop's sister starts a heated argument with the Bishop as usual only to hear that the convict is in more need of the candlesticks than them. However, the convict is unable to go too far so that he is nabbed by the Police. The Police brings the convict to the Bishop who instead of accusing the convict of theft, forgives him by saying that the convict is his friend . The police releases him .The convict is blessed by the Bishop who advises him to go to a good place to start a new career. The convict reaches Paris where he starts a business and settles down successfully. The convict realises that by this act of benevolence of the Bishop , the convict has undergo a transformation from a wild beast to a man once again.
Hope this helps!

EXERCISE:

Page No:128

1. Copy and complete the following paragraph about the theme of the play in pairs:

The play deals with a _______________and __________________Bishop who is always
ready to lend a _________________hand to anyone in distress. A _________________
breaks into the Bishop’s house and is ___________________________and warmed. The benevolence of the Bishop somewhat _____________________the convict, but, when he
sees the silver candlesticks, he ____________________ them, and runs away. However, he is _______________________and brought back. He expects to go back to jail, but the Bishop informs the police they are a _______________________________. The convict is ___________________by this kindness of the Bishop and before he leaves he seeks the priest’s blessing.

Answer 
The play deals with a kind and charitable Bishop who is always ready to lend a helping hand to anyone in distress. A convict breaks into the Bishop’s house and is fed and warmed. The benevolence of the Bishop somewhat confounds the convict, but, when he sees the silver candlesticks, he steals them, and runs away. However, he is arrested and brought back. He expects to go back to jail, but the Bishop informs the police they are a gift. The convict is moved by this kindness of the Bishop and before he leaves he seeks the priest’s blessing.

5. (a) Working in pairs give antonyms of the following words
Kind hearted
Unscrupulous
Forgiving
Stern
Benevolent
Credulous
Generous
Pious
Suspicious
sympathetic
Understanding
Wild
Innocent
Penitent
Clever
Brutal
Cunning
Caring
Sentimental
Trusting
Protective
Concerned
Honorable
embittered

Answer 

(1) Kind Hearted − nasty, unkind, cruel 
(2) Unscrupulous − ethical, moral, good
(3) Forgiving − censure, charge, punish
(4) Stern − cheerful, funny, lenient
(5) Benevolent − greedy, malevolent, mean, selfish
(6) Credulous − skeptical, suspecting, suspicious
(7) Generous − greedy, mean, miserly
(8) Pious - atheist, impious, irreligious
(9) Suspicious − innocent, trustworthy, trusty
(10) Sympathetic − callous, merciless, uncaring, unconcerned
(11) Understanding − misunderstanding, intolerant
(12) Wild − civilized, controlled, delicate, gentle
(13) Innocent − bad, blamable, corrupt
(14) Penitent − happy, unashamed
(15) Clever − awkward, foolish, idiotic, ignorant,
(16) Brutal − generous, humane, kind, nice
(17) Cunning − gullible, kind, naive
(18) Caring − disregarding, ignoring, neglecting
(19) Sentimental − hard-hearted, indifferent, pragmatic, unemotional
(20) Trusting- disagree, dispute, reject, renounce
(21) Protective − attacking, harmful, hurtful, injurious
(22) Concerned − happy, undisturbed, unperturbed
(23) Honourable − not respectful, unhonourable
(24) Embittered − pleasant, content, genial

Page No: 129

(b) Select words from the above box to describe the characters in the play as revealed by the following lines from the play.

Lines from the play
Speaker
Quality revealed
1. “You told him she was feeling poorly, did you? And so my brother is to be kept out of bed, and go without his supper because you told him she was feeling poorly.”
2. __________ “take my comforter, it will keep you warm.”
3. “If people lie to me they are poorer, not I.”
4. “You are like a child. I can’t trust you out of my sight. No sooner my back is turned than you get that minx Marie to sell the silver salt-cellars.”
5. “My dear there is so much suffering in the world, and I can do so very little.”
6. “My mother gave them to me on − on her death bed just after you were born, and − and she asked me to keep them in remembrance of her, so I would like to keep them.”
7. “I am too old a bird to be caught with chaff.”
8. “You have your soul to lose, my son.”
9. “Give me food or I’ll stick my knife in you both and help myself.”
10. “__________they have made me what I am, they have made me a thief. God curse them all.”
11. “Why the devil are you kind to me? What do you want?”
12. “I − I − didn’t believe there was any good in the world…but somehow I − I − know you’re good, and − and it’s a queer thing to ask, but could you, would you bless me before I go?”
  
Answer

Lines from the play
Speaker
Quality revealed
1. “You told him she was feeling poorly, did you? And so my brother is to be kept out of bed, and go without his supper because you told him she was feeling poorly.”
Persome
Protective
2. __________ “take my comforter, it will keep you warm.”
Bishop
Kind hearted
3. “If people lie to me they are poorer, not I.”
Bishop
Innocent
4. “You are like a child. I can’t trust you out of my sight. No sooner my back is turned than you get that minx Marie to sell the silver salt-cellars.”
Persome
Caring
5. “My dear there is so much suffering in the world, and I can do so very little.”
Bishop
Sympathetic
6. “My mother gave them to me on −on her death bed just after you were born, and − and she asked me to keep them in remembrance of her, so I would like to keep them.”
Bishop
Sentimental
7. “I am too old a bird to be caught with chaff.”
Convict
Cunning
8. “You have your soul to lose, my son.”
Bishop
Pious
9. “Give me food or I’ll stick my knife in you both and help myself.”
Convict
Unscrupulous
10. “__________they have made me what I am, they have made me a thief. God curse them all.”
Convict
Embittered
11. “Why the devil are you kind to me? What do you want?”
Convict
Suspicious
12. “I − I − didn’t believe there was any good in the world…but somehow I − I − know you’re good, and − and it’s a queer thing to ask, but could you, would you bless me before I go?”
Convict
Penitent

Page No: 130

6. Answer the following questions briefly

(a) Do you think the Bishop was right in selling the salt-cellars? Why/why not?
Answer 
No, the Bishop was not right in selling the salt-cellars. His own economic condition was not good and he should have asked for Persome’s opinion before he sold the cellars, which belonged to her too. 
From another point of view the Bishop was right in selling the salt-cellars as he wanted to give the money he got from selling the cellars to Mere Gringoire who couldnot give rent to the landlord on time and was about to face eviction. The Bishop was very broadminded as he could empathise with the condition of Mere Gringoire and chosed to do away with the salt cellars. The Bishop felt that one could eat salt out of china as well.

(b) Why does Persome feel the people pretend to be sick?
Answer 
Persome is protective and wishes to maintain the household. She is pained to see that the entire humanity is turning upon them for charity and benevolence. She feels people like Marie’s mother pretend to be sick and take undue advantage of the Bishop.

(c) Who was Jeanette? What was the cause of her death?
Answer 
Jeanette was the convict’s wife. She died due to illness and starvation.

(d) The convict says, “I am too old a bird to be caught with chaff.” What does he mean by this statement?
Answer 
The convict has suffered, he is embittered, he is experienced. So he couldn’t be tricked. He ordered the Bishop to stay put because he couldn’t trust anyone not to report to the police and get him arrested.


(e) Why was the convict sent to prison? What was the punishment given to him?
Answer
The convict was sent to prison for stealing a loaf of bread. He was sentenced to ten years in a prison hulk.


(f) Do you think the punishment given to the convict was justified? Why/ why not? Why is the convict eager to reach Paris?
Answer 
The punishment given to the convict was not justified. It is too inhuman for someone who was caught stealing just to feed his sick wife. He was guilty of stealing only to feed his wife who was dying of starvation. But they showed him no mercy and treated him like a beast. They chained him like a wild animal, lashed him like a hound and fed him filth. He was covered with vermin and had to sleep on boards. This kind of treatment is inhuman and not justified.
The convict is eager to reach Paris because it was a big city and the Police would never be able to find him there. 

(g) Before leaving, the convict asks the Bishop to bless him. What brought about this change in him?
Answer 
The Bishop’s benevolent, kind and caring attitude had brought about a change in the convict. That is why before leaving for Paris, he asks the Bishop to bless him.

7. Read the following extract and answer the questions that follow by choosing the
correct options.

A. Monseigneur the Bishop is a ------------ahem!’

(a) Why does Persome not complete the sentence?(i) she used to stammer while speaking.
(ii) she was about to praise the Bishop.
(iii) she did not wish to criticise the Bishop in front of Marie.
(iv)she had a habit of passing such remarks.

Answer
(iii) She did not wish to criticise the Bishop in front of Marie.

(b) Why is she angry with the Bishop?
(i) The Bishop has sold her salt-cellars.
(ii) The Bishop has gone to visit Mere Gringoire.
(iii) He showed extra concern for Marie.
(iv) She disliked the Bishop.

Answer 
(i) The Bishop has sold her salt-cellars.

Page No: 131

B. ‘She sent little Jean to Monseigneur to ask for help, and—’

(a) Who sent little Jean to the Bishop?
(i) Mere Gringoire
(ii) Marie
(iii) Persome
(iv) Marie's mother

Answer 
(i) Mere Gringoire

(b) Why did she send Jean to the Bishop? 
(i) so that he could pray for her
(ii) as she knew that he was a generous person
(iii) as she was a greedy woman
(iv) as she was a poor woman
  
Answer 
(ii) as she knew that he was a generous person

C. ‘I offered to take her in here for a day or two, but she seemed to think it might distress you.”
The Bishop wanted to take Mere Grngoire in because _________.

(a) The Bishop wanted to take Mere Grngoire in because _________.
(i) she was sick
(ii) she had no money
(iii) she was unable to pay the rent of her house
(iv) she was a close friend of Persome

Answer 
(iii) she was unable to pay the rent of her house

(b) Persome would be distressed on Mere Gringoire's being taken in because ________. 
(i) she did not want to help anyone
(ii) she felt that Mere Gringoire was taking undue advantage of the Bishop
(iii) she was a self-centred person
(iv) she would be put to a great deal of inconvenience

Answer 
(ii) she felt that Mere Gringoire was taking undue advantage of the Bishop

Page No: 133

9. Identify the situations which be termed as the turning points in the convict's life?
Answer 
The Convict, when was caught and brought to the Bishop’s house, was asked to be released by the Bishop saying that he is a friend to him. The Bishop also gives him his mother’s only memory i.e. candle-sticks. This entire incidence makes convict believe that there still exists humanity. This is the turning point in the convict’s life.

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