Thursday 21 January 2021

The Bishop's Candlesticks


The Bishop's Candlesticks



a. Cottage - hut

b. Mantelpiece - a shelf above the fireplace

c. Rebukes - to speak angrily

d. Ailing - in poor health

e. Belongings - a person’s movable possessions

f. Seizes - take hold of suddenly and forcibly

g. Beast - an animal

h. Voraciously - craving or consuming large quantity of food

i. Desperate - out of control

j. Pillar to post - from one place to another

k. Stows - pack or store (an object) carefully in a particular place

l. Defiantly - bold disobedience

m. Suspiciously - in a way that causes or expresses doubt

n. Furious - very angry

o. Starving - dying to hunger

p. Chained - tied with a chain

q. Admiring - praising

r. Just - rightful




1. Who is the writer of the play ’The Bishop’s Candlesticks?

ANS- Norman Mckinnel

2. Who is present on the stage when the plays open?

ANS- Persome and Marie.


3. Who is Marie?

ANS- Marie is the maid-servant.


4. What is the mission of the Bishop’s life?

ANS- To help the suffering humanity.


5. What does the Bishop give to Marie when he sends her home?

ANS- The Bishop gives his muffler.


6. Why has the Bishop sold the silver salt-cellars?

ANS- To pay the rent of Marie’s old mother, Mere Gringoire


7. Who has gifted the candlesticks to the Bishop?

ANS- His mother.


8. At what time the convict enters the Bishop’s house?

ANS- At midnight


9. Name the weapon with which the convict threatens to kill the Bishop.

10. A long knife.




11. The convict demands food from the Bishop because he had not taken food for________.

ANS- Three days


12. How many years did the convict spend in jail?

ANS- Ten years.


13. What food did the Bishop give to the convict?

ANS- A cold pie, a bottle of wine and some bread.


14. Why did the convict steal money for food?

ANS- He stole money for his ill wife.


15. How was the convict treated in the jail?

ANS- He was brutally treated for ten years.


16. What was the number given to the convict in the jail?

ANS- 15729


17. What is the convict’s tragic story?

ANS- Society maltreated him.


18. What did the Bishop do to make the convict feel a man again?

ANS- To show extreme compassion to him.


19. What did the convict steal from the Bishop’s house?

ANS- He stole the candlesticks.


20. Why does convict thank the Bishop?

ANS- For restoring his faith in humanity.





▪ Born in 1870 at Maxwell town, in Scotland, UK.

▪ He was a Scottish stage and film actor and Playwright.

▪ His film career began in 1899 in King John, the earliest known example of Shakespeare on film.

▪ His surname was sometimes mis transcribed as McKinnell.

▪ As a playwright he is known for the play, The Bishop’s Candlesticks, an adaptation of a section of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.




• 1. The Bishop- a noble, kind-hearted soul and a true Christian. Ready to sacrifice everything to help the needy people.

• 2. Persome- the Bishop’s sister, a widow, selfish and worldly- minded woman.

• 3. Marie - the maid-servant of the Bishop, well-behaved girl and revered the Bishop quite sincerely.

• 4. Convict - a rude, suspicious and full of fear. He was not a criminal by birth, circumstances made him hard hearted criminal.

• 5. Sergeant of Gendarmes – Sub-Inspector of the French police party, respected the Bishop a lot.




The Bishop’s Candlesticks is a thoughtful play which is an adaptation of a section of Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables. It plays a pivotal role because the main course of actions are centred around it. It is based on the theme that love and kindness can change a wicked person into a good human being.




The play opens in the kitchen of Bishop’s cottage. On the mantelpiece, there are two very handsome candlesticks. Marie, the maid is stirring some soup in the kitchen. Persome, the Bishop’s sister is laying cloth on the table. Persome rebukes Marie as she has not tended the fire properly and the soup is not ready yet.




Persome is worried for her brother. It is already 11 O’clock. Bishop has not returned yet. She asks Marie if there is any message. Marie tells her that the Bishop has gone to see her ailing mother. Persome scolds her for troubling her brother. Marie does not mind her scolding. Persome orders her to put the silver cellars on the table. Marie says that the Bishop has sold the salt cellars to pay the house rent of her mother, Mere Gringoire. She was being troubled by the land lord’s agent. Persome curses the old lady. Persome wonders what would happen to her brother because he has already sold many of his belongings to help others.




The Bishop enters. He says that it is cold outside. Persome helps him off with his coat. He tells Marie that her mother is feeling better now. When Marie leaves the house, The Bishop gives his comforter to her and says it will keep her warm. Persome is angry with the Bishop. She rebukes him for giving everything in charity to the people. She advises him to bother about his own welfare. The Bishop tells that there is so much suffering and sorrow in the world and he can do so little. Persome says in anger that one day he would sell the candlesticks also. But the Bishop says that he would never sell them as they are the symbol of love of his mother. Although Persome disapproves of her brother’s kindness, yet she loves him so much that she is willing to excuse him. She makes him sit at the table and finish his soup. She locks the cupboard. While going to bed tells him to bless her. She also makes him promise that he will not stay up late. The Bishop blesses her and after she leaves, he settles down to read.




It is almost midnight. The Bishop is reading a book in his room, A convict enters his room stealthily. It is not difficult for anyone to enter the Bishop’s house as its doors and windows are never shut. He seizes the Bishop from behind and demands food at the point of a long knife. He threatens to kill him if he raises an alarm. The Bishop treats the convict as if he were his guest. He calls him ‘son’ and tries to calm him down. He tells the convict that he will certainly give him food. He offers to give food to the convict by getting the keys of the cupboard from his sister. The convict thinks that the Bishop is trying to play a trick and he would wake everybody in the house. The Bishop assures him that he and his are alone in the house. So, he should not be afraid of anything. Later due to hunger, the convict is forced to trust him. But he warns the Bishop if he tries to cheat him, he will stab him with a knife. The Bishop calls his sister and tells her to unlock the cupboard so that he can give some food to the convict. Persome is scared to see the knife in the convict’s hand as he looks like a wild beast. The Bishop consoles her and take the keys of the cupboard from her. Then he serves the convict cold pie, a bottle of wine and some bread. The convict eats voraciously as he has not eaten anything for the last three days.




After taking the food, the convict feels relaxed. The bishop remarks that the convict has suffered much. The convict agrees that he has suffered a lot. He recalls his days in the prison which was nothing short of hell and starts talking about himself. He tells the Bishop that there was a time when he was a man. He had a lovely wife and a home. His wife was ill and starving. He had no money and work at that time. He had to steal money to feed his sick wife .But he was caught and sentenced to ten year imprisonment. When he told the jail officials that he stole because his wife was ill and he was without work, they laughed at him. On the very first night in the prison he learnt that his wife had died. He was desperate. In the prison, he was given a number. He was chained like an animal. He was treated very badly. He was beaten mercilessly. He suffered there so much that he had forgotten almost everything even his name also. Now he was not a man, he was a number i.e. 15729. Thus, ill- treatment by jail authorities made him a beast. One day they forgot to chain him and he escaped. After his escape from prison, he has been wandering from pillar to post. Nobody is ready to provide him food and shelter. So he began to steal again.




The Bishop is deeply moved to hear the tragic story of the convict. He tells the convict that he has really suffered a lot, but there is hope for all. He tells the convict to sleep on the bed as he is tired and no one will disturb him. The Bishop goes inside to bring covering for him. When left alone, the convict goes to fire to warm himself and notices the candlesticks. He takes them down from the mantelpiece. He finds that they are quite heavy and made of pure silver. On hearing the Bishop coming, he drops one candlestick in haste. The Bishop is surprised to see the convict admiring the candlesticks. He tells him that he is proud of them and adds that they are a gift from his mother. They remind him of his mother. He then tells the convict that bed is ready. He should retire for the night. The Bishop treats him kindly. The convict is impressed. He tells the Bishop that he is trying to change him (convict) into a good man. But he will not succeed in this. He also says that he has no faith in Christian virtues like Faith, Hope and Charity. The Bishop says him that it is already late so he should go to sleep and leaves the room. The convict talks to himself. A conflict between good and evil goes on in his heart. He knows that the candlesticks are a gift to the Bishop from his mother. He wonders why he should care for his mother. Society never thought of his mother when he was sent to jail. Then he makes his mind to take away the candlesticks. So, he picks up the candlesticks, stows them in his coat and escapes.




As the convict leaves, the door slams. The sound awakens Persome and she comes to see what it is. She calls her brother as soon as she realizes that the candlesticks are gone. Persome feels furious on this act of the convict. She wants to call the police but the Bishop stops her from doing so. The Bishop also regrets the loss of the candlesticks. But the Bishop does not want the convict to be sent to prison again. He thinks that it is a sin to be too much attached to the worldly things. . Thus, their theft is a just punishment for him.


Just then, someone knocks at the door and a Sergeant enters with three policemen and the convict. The Sergeant says that the convict was going along the road suspiciously. On searching him they found the candlesticks with him. He remembered that the candlesticks belonged to the Bishop. So, they brought them to him. The Bishop and the convict have been looking at each other. The convict looks at him defiantly. The Bishop tells the police that the convict is his very good friend and he, himself had presented the convict with the candlesticks. The sergeant accepted this explanation with a bit of difficulty and goes out after releasing the convict. The convict feels sorry for his theft. He is surprised at the Bishop’s forgiving and loving behavior. From being a beast he becomes a man. In jail, he had forgotten there was any good in the world. But on meeting the Bishop he saw goodness once again. He is so touched by the Bishop’s kindness that he begins to cry. He tells the Bishop to bless him. As he is about to leave, The Bishop gives him the candlesticks saying that these might help him. He promises the Bishop that he will lead a good life in the future. Thus, the Bishop’s conduct has taught him the lesson of love and kindness.



The title of the play ‘The Bishop’s Candlesticks’ plays an important role because the main course of actions are centred around it. The candlesticks revolves round the life of both- the Bishop and the convict. The bishop is a saintly figure. He is very generous to the poor and the suffering. He can sacrifice his own comfort for the good of others. The candlesticks are the last gift from his dying mother. They have great sentimental value for him. They remind him of his mother. So, he does not want to sell the candlesticks. But when he sees that the convict has stolen his candlesticks, he feels very bad. However, he also thinks that he should not have been so attached to them. He realizes that it is a sin to be too much attached to worldly things. Their theft is a just punishment For him. Luckily, he gets his candlesticks back when the convict is caught by the police. He gives his candlesticks to the convict to start a new life. Therefore, it reveals that The Bishop is very generous. He does not want to send to send the convict back to jail.


The Bishop’s forgiving and loving behavior brings a drastic change in the convict’s life. This has a great effect on the convict’s heart. He becomes a changed man now. He promises to the Bishop to lead a good life in the future. The Bishop wins the heart of the convict by actually gifting the candlesticks to him.


Thus, the title of the play is quite appropriate as the drama is deeply associated with the emotions attached with the candlesticks.



The Bishop’s Candlesticks is a deeply moving play. It illustrates a profound but not generally accepted human truth that a wicked criminal who has completely lost faith in goodness and even elementary human decencies can hope for redemption. The theme of the play is love, faith, kindness and redemption. It supports the idea that sin can be eradicated by love and compassion for the sinner the rather than by punishing him.

In the play the convict enters the Bishop’s house secretly and demands for food on the point of a long knife as he had not eaten anything for the last three days. The Bishop treats him with love and sympathy. He gives him food and bed to sleep. The convict tells him his tragic story. The Bishop shows him sympathy, But instead of being grateful, the convict steals his precious candlesticks, to whom the Bishop was very attached as they were gifted by his dying mother and escapes. But he is caught by the police and presents him to the Bishop. Being a generous by nature, the Bishop tells the police that the convict is his close friend and he has gifted him the candlesticks. He demands the convict to be released. This act of the Bishop’s goodness restores the convict’s faith in humanity. He becomes a changed person now. He promises to lead a good life in the future. Thus, it is by the Bishop’s nobility that he changes a bad man into good human being.




The play ‘The Bishop’s Candlesticks’ is about a holy man who changes the heart of a convict. The Bishop is an embodiment of all noble qualities. As his sister, Persome says in the play, “The best man in all France.” He is the soul and the spirit of the play. He is very generous to the poor and the sufferings. The bishop keeps his doors and windows literally open for needy persons. He thinks that there is lot of sorrow and suffering in the world. He wants to remove the sorrow and suffering from the world. He sells his salt cellars to enable an old poor lady to pay off her rent. He does everything possible to help the poor.

He is loving and affectionate. He gives his muffler to his maid- servant as it was very cold outside. The convict who enters the Bishop’s house demands food at the point of his knife. The Bishop remains calm. He offers him food and bed to sleep. The Bishop treats him kindly. When the convict steals his candlesticks and runs away. The Bishop forgives him and also frees him from the police. He gifts his candlesticks to the convict to start a new life. This has a deep effect on the convict’s heart. It is the Bishop’s forgiving and loving behavior, that he changes the bad man into a good man.

He is a true Christian. He gives the message that the human body is the temple of God. No human being is beyond redemption and improvement. Thus, The Bishop’s conduct has taught us the lesson of love and kindness. He is very virtuous person.




Persome is the sister of the Bishop. She is a widow. She lives with his brother. She is poles apart from her brother. She has been portrayed as an ordinary human being who is unkind to the spiritual values of mercy and charity. She is a quarrelsome woman. She scolds Marie, a maid servant continuously on petty things. She does not like to see her brother giving up his comfort for the sake of others. She is angry on learning that her salt-cellars were sold to pay the house rent of an old woman. She blames Marie for troubling her brother. She is very selfish and worldly-minded woman. She does not believe in charity. She fees irritated when she learns that the Bishop has gone to see Marie’s ailing mother. She fears that all his belongings would be sold one by one. She rebukes his brother for giving everything in charity to the people. She advises him to think of his welfare only. She is not a generous woman. She has no sympathy for the poor and the suffering humanity. She believes that the poor people pretends to be poor as they want to get help from the Bishop. She is not hospitable by nature. She gets angry at the entry of the convict at midnight in the house of the Bishop. She gets angry when the convict demands food. She asks her brother why she should give food to the convict at this odd time of night. She does not believe in human goodness. She knows that the convict was a hardened thief. She feels that the criminals can be mended by the police only. So, they should not be pitied. However, as a sister she is quite caring and loving. She really cares for brother’s comfort and well-being




The convict was introduced in the play, when he broke into the Bishop’s house. He had escaped from the jail. He was a terrible looking person. He demanded food at the point of his knife from the Bishop. He threatened to kill the Bishop if he raised an alarm. All these show that the convict he was a hard hearted person. He was a cunning person. When the Bishop offered to give food to him by getting the keys of the cupboard from his sister. The convict thought that the Bishop was playing a trick. He warned him that if he tried to cheat him, he would stab him with a knife. As the play progresses, we come to know the tragic story of the convict. He was not a criminal since his birth. He became a victim of circumstances. Once he was an honest man. He led a poor life with his wife in a little cottage. His wife was ill and starving. He had no money to buy food for his wife. He had to steal to feed his sick wife and was thus caught and imprisoned for ten years. In the jail, he was brutally treated like a beast. He was tortured and beaten. They made him a devil. Now he was not a man, but he was a number. This was a turning point in his life. He considered himself a devil. And told the Bishop his efforts to change him would fail. He lost belief in religion. He had no identity and no faith in humanity. According to him, it was the society who was responsible in making him a bad person.

He became a good person. When he met the Bishop, the hospitality he received at his cottage and his kind behavior softened him a little. But being a hard hearted person, he stole the candlesticks of the Bishop. He was again caught and brought him back to the Bishop’s house. But the Bishop saved him from the police. The Bishop’s forgiving and loving behavior turned him into a good person. His belief in humanity was restored. He promised the Bishop to lead a good life in the future.