1. In what part of Europe does the novella begin? Westphalia, a principality of Germany

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Study Notes/Guide for Candide by Voltaire
Chapter 1

1. In what part of Europe does the novella begin? Westphalia, a principality of Germany

2. Of what is the name Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh derisive? The overblown names of many German petty nobles

3. What is the significance of the name Candide? His name sums him up. The French word “candide” implies not only honesty, but also innocence, naivete, and purity.

4. What is/are the target(s) of Voltaire’s depiction of the Baron? He is poking fun not only at a man with an inflated sense of his own importance, but at a society that could, in fact, consider such a person to be important.

5. What three real fields of philosophy are referred to in the hodge-podge word “metaphysico-theologico-cosmoloonigology”? What is ironic about the “-loonigo-” part of the word? Metaphysics, the study of “being” or existence; theology, the study of God; cosmology, the study of the universe.

6. What major philosopher is the target of Voltaire’s satire focused on “the best of all possible worlds”? Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz

7. Note the contrast between the philosophical ideals of what the characters say and the reality of what they do, or of what is happening around them. One of the sources of humor in Candide and an effective means of highlighting reality and raising questions in the reader’s mind.

8. Chapter 1 begins to set the narrative rhythm. While you read, look for other examples of the pattern being set here: the bottom falling out of what appears to be a wonderful situation.
Chapter 2

1. As displayed in this chapter, what is Voltaire’s attitude toward the brutality of army life? Voltaire presents a biting satire of army life. The practice of conscription, the brutality of army life, and the loss of personal freedom are presented in an exaggerated but not completely unrealistic manner. Men were frequently tricked into serving in the army, and physical punishment was common. The humor lies in Candide’s gullibility and in Voltaire’s use of exaggeration to make fun of the military.

2. Specifically the chapter also comments on the Prussian army of Frederick the Great. What was happening between Frederick and France at the time the novella was written? The Prussian army was notorious for the harshness of its training. The idea of Frederick is evoked humorously by the overblown imaginary German-sounding names. Westphalia, an actual principality of Germany, was the site of battles between Frederick and the French.

3. In what way is Candide blinded by his own honesty and simplicity? His own honesty and simplicity seem to keep him from seeing dishonesty and duplicity in others.

4. Voltaire introduces a new, important theme in this chapter. How is the theme of free will, of man’s ability to choose his own destiny, developed in this chapter? Candide considers himself a free man, so he takes a walk. He is court-martialed. He is “free” to choose whether he wishes to be shot or beaten. Candide says that he wishes to choose neither, but he is forced to choose anyway. Where, then, is his free will?
Chapter 3

1. The setting of the novella changes in this chapter. What part of Europe is now the setting? Holland

2. The character the Anabaptist Jacques is introduced? Who were the Anabaptists? Anabaptists were members of a Nonconformist Protestant sect that believed in baptism for adults, instead of the more usual Christian practice of infant baptism. They were also social reformers. Like many other persecuted sects, the Anabaptists took refuge in Holland, a country famous for its religious tolerance.

  1. Two more of the major themes of Candide are presented in this chapter. How are the theme of evil, in the form of war, and the theme of religion developed here? In the first part of Chapter 3 in two paragraphs, Voltaire exposes the cruelty and savagery of war in a devastating manner. The battle scene begins in an ironic mood. The two armies are splendid; they march to the accompaniment of music, but such a harmony “was never heard in hell.” Linking the word “hell” with the idea of harmony provides the kind of contrast that lets you know vividly that war is hell. Harmony is usually considered a celestial attribute. A similar contrast closes the first paragraph where the battle is described as “heroic butchery.” The battle continues with the two kings both claiming victory. But the tone of the narrative shifts away from satire when Candide enters the Abare village. The humor disappears and the description is harshly realistic. Voltaire describes the dead and dying of the village. The sense of war as evil is overwhelming.

The second part of the chapter takes place in Holland. It contains the first satire of religious hypocrisy and intolerance in Candide. These negative qualities are embodied by the hypocritical orator and his wife. Their behavior is contrasted with the Anabaptist Jacques. The orator and his wife, religious enthusiasts, preach charity, but Jacques practices it.

4. The first part of Chapter 3 contains one of the most famous scenes in Candide. In two paragraphs, Voltaire exposes the cruelty and savagery of war in a devastating manner. Although Voltaire never uses the word “evil,” how does he make you feel its presence? See the first part of the answer to #3 of this chapter.

Chapter 4

1. What news does Dr. Pangloss reveal of Cunegonde? Pangloss tells Candide that she died after being raped by Bulgar soldiers.

2. According to Pangloss, why is he in such a pitiful condition? In truth, what is the cause of his condition? Pangloss attributes his problem to love. He has, in fact, contracted the “pox” from Paquette, the baroness’s maid.

3. To what city in Europe do Candide, Jacques, and Pangloss now travel? Lisbon, Portugal

4. What does Voltaire expose by parodying philosophical reasoning, beginning with an invalid premise and ending with an absurd conclusion? The emptiness of Pangloss and, by extension, of his philosophy.

5. Note that Pangloss always deals in abstractions and ideals. One source of the humor in the chapter is the clash between the real and the ideal. How is this clash evident with the description of love -- what is the ideal and what is the real? Pangloss says that his problem is love, which he then describes in idealistic, poetic terms. But the result of love so far is one kiss and 20 kicks for Candide and a case of the pox for Pangloss.

Chapter 5

1. Jacques is drowned at sea, and on shore, Candide, Pangloss, and a sailor are heading for Lisbon when an earthquake, a tidal wave, and fires devastate the city. What actually occurred in Lisbon in 1755? A devastating earthquake killed more than 30,000 people, many of them in church to celebrate the feast of All Saints Day.

2. In this chapter, how is the reality of evil portrayed differently than what it was in Chapter 3? In Chapter 3, evil was man-made — war and the slaughter of innocent citizens. Here, evil appears as a force of nature. No one has caused the natural disaster, but the result is remarkably similar to that of military conflict.

3. How is the sense of the senselessness of fate demonstrated in this chapter? In the storm at sea, it is the good man who dies and the evil man who survives to loot the ruins. People “of every age and either sex” are crushed to death, but the first survivor whom Pangloss, Candide, and the sailor meet is a prostitute.

4. Natural disasters had frequently been justified as punishment for immoral behavior, what is ironic in the first survivor that Pangloss, Candide, and the sailor encounter? The first survivor they encounter is a prostitute.

5. To what theme is the presence of an officer of the Inquisition at dinner and his dialogue with Pangloss applicable? Consider the concepts of intolerance and fanaticism in relation to this theme. The theme of religion. Since the Inquisition was charged with enforcing “orthodoxy” (strict adherence to accepted Roman Catholic Church doctrine) and wiping out “heresy” (deviations from accepted doctrine), the issue of intolerance is raised. And because the Inquisition had become notorious, especially in Spain and Portugal, for sentencing and execution of heretics, the issue of fanaticism is implied. By the 18th century, these practices were infrequent. But the mere mention of the Inquisition conjured up an image of fanaticism and intolerance.

6. Notice the interesting contrast between the actions of Pangloss and Candide in similar situations. In Chapter 3, when Pangloss says he is starving, Candide immediately feeds him, even though he is anxious for news of Cunegonde. Here, when the wounded Candide begs for oil and wine, Pangloss, whose name is Greek for “all-tongue,” keeps talking until Candide faints. What does this tell you about Pangloss and his true concerns? Pangloss is aware of himself only; he is very selfish. He does not listen to others; he likes to hear himself talk.

Chapter 6

1. To prevent more earthquakes, the authorities decide to hold an auto-da-fe. What is an auto-da-fe? An auto-da-fe (from the Portuguese, “act of faith”) was a public ceremony, during the first part of which accused heretics were sentenced by the Inquisition. The second part of the auto-da-fe was the execution by fire, carried out not by the Inquisitors but by the civil authorities. The clothing worn by Candide and Pangloss are the symbolically painted cape (sanbenito) and pointed hat (miter) of the heretic. By the 18th century auto-da-fes were rare, but not unheard of.

2. Voltaire chooses to have his characters condemned by the Inquisition in order to dramatize his chief quarrel with religion. What is that view of religion? In Voltaire’s view, religion perpetuates superstition, which, in turn, creates fanaticism and intolerance.

  1. For what reasons does Candide question his optimistic beliefs in this chapter? He is baffled by the deaths of three of the people he cares about most: his good friend, Jacques; his tutor, Pangloss; and his beloved, Cunegonde. He repeatedly asks “Was it necessary?” because he can find no reasons for their deaths. He wonders what other worlds must be like if this one is the best possible.

Chapter 7

1. How does this chapter parody the romantic adventure story? The scene is straight out of a romantic adventure: The mysterious old woman, the unnamed ointment, the remote house in the country, and the veiled lady are stock romantic creations.

2. What does Cunegonde’s straightforward answer to Candide’s question about her fate at the hands of the Bulgars reveal about her character, especially in contrast with Candide and Pangloss? This occurs in Chapter 8 where she matter-of-factly relates all that has happened to her — the rape by the Bulgar soldier, her salvation by the Bulgar captain, etc. She says, “A lady of honor may be raped once, but it strengthens her virtue.” She also claims of Don Issachar and the Grand Inquisitor, “For my part, I’ve resisted them both so far...” She ends her story with, “You must be ravenously hungry; I have a good appetite too, so let’s begin by eating supper.”
Chapter 8

1. What insight into the character of Cunegonde does this chapter provide? Her narrative is a mixture of melodrama and down-to-earth practicality. She describes her dramatic struggle to resist the Bulgar soldier but doesn’t think of her conduct as particularly unusual. She admits that her “saviour,” the captain, killed her attacker not out of concern for her, but because the soldier had failed to salute. Although she confesses horror at the auto-da-fe, she is also glad that she had a good seat and refreshments. But despite the fact that her practicality and adaptability allow her to find her way in most situations, she is not portrayed as cynical or unfeeling. She is genuinely overjoyed at seeing Candide. But she is essentially practical, and, though overjoyed, she does not forget that she is also hungry and wants her dinner.
Chapter 9

1. What were the Holy Brotherhood? A type of religious police

2. What elements of this chapter continue the parody of the romantic adventure story? Voltaire’s parody of the adventure story continues in Chapter 9 with the most dramatic episode in Candide’s career. Chapter 9 is full of action and swordplay. These incidents are the classic elements of an adventure story. But Voltaire’s version is humorous and satirical. The humor comes from the author’s choice of words and the frequent contrasts between the actions of romantic adventure and the language of mundane reality.

3. What is significant about the contrast between the treatment of the Inquisitor and the Jew? The Inquisitor is buried in Church, while the Jew, at least as much a victim as the Inquisitor, is thrown on a pile of rubbish.

Chapter 10

1. What European city is now the setting for the novella? Cadiz

2. How did many Europeans of Voltaire’s day view the New World, as expressed by Candide in this chapter? Many Europeans of Voltaire’s day held the hope that the New World would be better than the Old.

3. This chapter further develops the theme of religion. How are the three religious orders, the Franciscans, the Benedictines, and the Jesuits, presented? All three are presented as hypocritical. The Franciscan is suspected of being a thief. The Benedictine buys the horse “cheap,” implying that he drove a hard bargain. The Jesuits are accused of a more serious crime, inciting to rebellion. None of them practices what they preach.

4. The object of religious satire changes from fanaticism and intolerance to what in this chapter? To the corruption and worldliness (too great an attachment to things of the world — to possessions, power, or pleasure — and not enough to spiritual matters) of religious orders. At the heart of the corruption is hypocrisy; these “religious” characters obviously do not practice what they preach.

5. The second major theme treated in this chapter is, again, philosophical optimism. What is the difference in attitude between Cunegonde and Candide as they set sail? Candide still hopes to find “the best of all possible worlds,” but he is beginning to admit that, so far, all is not right in the world he knows. Cunegonde is more realistic, but because she feels so little hope, she is almost despondent.

6. Note that before Chapter 10 ends, Cunegonde announces a new theme -- the theme of human misery and self-pity. If you’ve ever been really depressed and felt the whole world is against you, then maybe you can understand how Cunegonde feels. She thinks that she must be the most miserable woman in the world after all her troubles.
Chapter 11

1. The old woman’s commentary serves various purposes. How does it:

a. highlight the worldly-wise, unflappable character of the old woman?

b. illustrate the universality of evil and emphasize the author’s sarcasm?

c. bring you down to earth.

Her narrative is highly charged with melodramatic extremes, from the ecstatic description of her own beauty to the horrors of the carnage on the beach. In contrast to the drama of her story as a young woman is her matter-of-fact commentary as the old woman narrator. The old woman’s attitude implies that there is really nothing so extraordinary in her experiences. Being seized by pirates and rapes is, she now realizes, something that happens all the time in this world. Likewise, the strip search, which seemed so strange to her at the time, she now knows is simply a custom of the seas. Even if these events are “common matters,” they are not any the less evil. As terrible as the events may be, they are not unique. But not being unique makes them all the more terrible. Religious satire is expanded beyond Christianity to include Islam. All across Morocco, people are slaughtering each other by the thousands, but no one forgets to say his prayers to Allah. Both Moroccan pirates and the Christian Knights of Malta treat their captives with equal barbarity. No religion, Voltaire seems to say, can restrain man’s wickedness.

2. Parodies of literary forms and styles are frequent in Candide. In this chapter, how does Voltaire make fun of Renaissance Italian love poetry? The old woman’s description of herself as a princess is a cliche of Renaissance Italian love poetry. The exaggerations and colorful dramatic touches in her narrative also imitate that style.

Chapter 12

1. What counterbalances the old woman’s consistent ill fortune? Her equally consistent ability to survive. Everyone except her dies on the shores of Morocco. During the plague, the eunuch, the lord, and most of the harem die, but she survives.

2. What challenge to Cunegonde does the old woman issue at the end of the chapter? To see whether she can find anyone who does not pity his lot in life.
Chapter 13

1. What continent and what city is now the setting for the novella? South America, Buenos Aires

2. What does the governor’s lengthy name satirize? The Spanish custom of using both parents’ last names in one’s own surname. The governor is a caricature of an arrogant Spanish nobleman. Voltaire is emphasizing the extreme pride and self-importance of the governor.

3. The old woman continues to play an important role in this chapter. She guides the action of both Cunegonde and Candide. Is her advice to Cunegonde purely cynical or does she have Cunegonde’s best interest at heart? There is a degree of cynicism in the old woman’s guidance. Her evaluations, although correct, are generally negative, which is why she sees the general misery around her. She coolly counsels Cunegonde to abandon Candide. Maybe as a survivor, she sees the best way out of a bad situation. If she were a true cynic, wouldn’t she perhaps choose to leave Cunegonde and try her luck elsewhere?

Chapter 14

1. What country is the next stop on Candide’s journey? Paraguay

2. What surprise character reappears in this chapter? the young baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, who had been reported dead

3. In what ways is Cacambo similar to the old woman? Both are realistic and worldly-wise. Both are able to find a way out of a sticky situation.

4. What are Cacambo’s chief characteristics which will frequently come in handy on his travels with Candide? His adaptability and resourcefulness. He is a jack-of-all-trades. He has been a monk, a sailor, a merchant, and many other things besides.

5. In Chapter 13, Candide was beginning to show signs of independent judgment. What evidence does Chapter 14 provide of the beginnings of his disenchantment with Pangloss’s views? When the commander asks him where he hails from, Candide replies, “From the nasty province of Westphalis.” This is quite a contrast with his idealized view of his homeland in earlier chapters.

6. Voltaire continues jabbing away at religion. What is his chief target in this chapter? The Jesuits are portrayed as exploiters of the Paraguayan people. The wealth of the Jesuits and the poverty of the Indians are symbolically depicted in the contrast between the Jesuit commander, with his ornate, leafy retreat, where he and Candide dine sumptuously, and the Indians, who are depicted eating corn on the naked ground. Cacambo says that the Jesuits have everything and the people have nothing.

  1. Contrast the behavior of the Jesuits in Europe with their behavior in America. In Europe, they bless the very kings against whom they make war in America.

Chapter 15

  1. How is the satire of the Jesuits continued in this chapter? The barons description of his life with the Jesuits continues the satire of Chapter 14. Throughout his narrative, the dual nature of the Jesuits’ role is stressed. As both missionaries and soldiers of Christ, they are in Paraguay both as priests and conquerors. Their power has led them into competition for control with Spain. The baron arrived as a subdeacon (a low position) and a lieutenant. He is now a full priest and a colonel. The Spanish troops will be defeated on the battlefield and excommunicated in the bargain. Voltaire is pointing out the apparent contradiction between war and religion.

Chapter 16

1. Explain the concept of the “noble savage” as held by Europeans of the 17th and 18th centuries. Primitive society, especially in the New World, had frequently been idealized by Europeans in the 17th and 18th centuries. It was seen as purer, simpler, and free of the moral corruption and hypocrisy of the modern world.

2. In the Biglugs’/Oreillons’ too-ready acceptance of Cacambo’s elaborate reasoning, what may Voltaire be suggesting about the innate difference between primitive and modern societies? Voltaire’s primitive society is cannibalistic and bestial. However, the Biglugs make a quick conversion to western-style reasoning when Cacambo convinces them to reject cannibalism by appealing to the sophisticated rules and customs of international law.

  1. How does the episode of the Biglugs/Oreillons continue the satirical portrait of the Jesuits? Being dressed as a Jesuit was a major cause of Candide’s problem. The killing of the two monkeys was forgotten once the Biglugs learned that Candide had killed a Jesuit.

4. Candide’s attitudes and spirits fluctuate in this chapter. How is the fluctuation typified by his reaction to the state of nature? When he is about to be eaten, he questions Pangloss’s teaching about man in the state of nature. But after Cacambo gets him off the hook, he comes to believe that “uncorrupted nature is good.” Candide speaks in ideal terms, but his reactions are govenned by events, not by ideals.
Chapter 17

1. Voltaire repeatedly emphasizes that the worldly-wise Cacambo is astounded by what he sees in Eldorado? Why? Because as too much of a cynic, always expecting evil, he is incapable of accepting a world where evil seems absent.

2. Is Voltaire saying, through the realistic voice of Cacambo, that Eldorado is an impossible ideal for human beings? Is it out of step with human nature?
Chapter 18

  1. What are the chief characteristics of Eldorado? It is a beautiful country, both naturally beautiful and made even more so by man. It is a land of great wealth; its citizens have all they need and, by European standards, much more. Because its people value their “pebbles and mud” only as materials and not as sources of power, it is a contented, peaceful land. It is a religious country, whose only religious ritual is thanking God. It is a land that prizes science and in which the useful and the beautiful are united.

2. What elements of society are missing in Eldorado? It has no law courts, no prisons, no priests. It is a society that needs no mediators, either between God and man or between individual men.

3. The Eldoradans are contented people who have vowed never to leave their homeland. What had happened in their history that led them to take that vow? Their history has taught them that those who left Eldorado (the Incas) in order to conquer others were themselves destroyed.

4. The meaning of Candide and Cacambo’s decision to leave Eldorado can be seen as a rejection

by Voltaire of the very idea of “utopia,” or a “perfect” state. Is Voltaire saying that utopias are worthwhile to think about, but impossible to achieve? Is he saying that maybe utopias are even undesirable? They decide to leave Eldorado because they believe they can live better outside. Candide says that the two can live like kings in Europe, while in Eldorado they are no different from anyone else. Their departure can be considered a realistic assessment of human nature. The desire to be better is more natural to men than the desire to be equal, even if the equality exists in pleasant circumstances. Isn’t it human to want to be better than your neighbor? Isn’t it also human to have faults and conflicts?

5. The old man relates a story about his ancestors. His message complements the king’s view. What is the message of the old man and the king? The old man’s message complements the king’s view that people ought to stay where they are relatively comfortable and happy. The implication of both the king’s and the old man’s message is to find happiness where you are. The inhabitants of Eldorado are not aware of the uniqueness of their situation. They do not know that they are the richest people in the world. Their wisdom lies in recognizing that they are happy and comfortable. They do not need to measure their happiness against someone else’s misery.

Chapter 19

1. What city of South America is now the setting for the novella? Surinam, on the northern coast

2. What encounter horrifies and convinces Candide to abandon Pangloss’s optimism? Candide and Cacambo meet a black man, who is missing both a hand and a leg. The black man is a slave in a sugar mill. His hand had been cut off when he caught his finger in the mill. His leg was cut off because he tried to run away. Candide is horrified by the slave’s story and concludes that in the face of such evidence Pangloss’s optimism must be abandoned.

3. Identify the three reversals of Candide’s good fortune in Eldorado which he suffers in this chapter. He loses his sheep; he finds out that Cunegonde is the governor’s mistress; he is swindled by both Vanderdendur and the Dutch magistrate.

4. In Chapter 19, two new characters enter the story: Martin the scholar and the Dutch merchant Vanderdendur. Contrast Vanderdendur with the other Dutch merchant of the novella, the Anabaptist Jacques. Vanderdendur, the slave holder and swindler of Candide, is a complete scoundrel. He is the exact opposite of another Dutch merchant, the honest Anabaptist Jacques.

5. The scholar Martin is the third of Candide’s companion advisers. What is ironic about Candide’s choice of Martin as his companion? Candide choose Martin to accompany him in a contest he’s holding to find the most miserable man in Surinam. Ironically, Candide chooses Martin not because he is the most miserable — nearly all are equally miserable — but because he promises to be the most amusing.

6. Martin is persecuted for being thought a Socinian. What was a Socinian? A follower of the beliefs of a small Unitarian Protestant sect that denied the divinity of Christ, the Trinity, and other basic tenets of orthodox Christianity. Although the Socinians had found refuge in Poland in the 16th century, they were eventually disbanded and destroyed as a practicing sect. Socinian writings, however, continued to have influence among the non-orthodox, and were well thought of by the French philosophers because of their relatively rational approach to religion. Martin, like the Anabaptist Jacques and the victims of the Inquisition in Lisbon, is yet another example of the intolerance and religious hatred that Voltaire fought against.
Chapter 20

1. Martin claims to be a Manichean who believes that the world, with the exception of Eldorado, is dominated by evil. Explain Manicheanism. Manicheanism, which flourished from the 3rd to the 7th century, was originally a Persian philosophy, but spread West to become one of the earliest and most important heresies of the early Christian Church. Its founder Mani preached that the world was a battleground for the two equally strong but opposing forces of good and evil. Thus, life was a constant struggle between the two, in which the ideal state was one of balance, not the triumph of one over the other. This view runs counter to traditional, Christian belief in a universe created and directed by goodness, where evil is only an aberration, and where the goal is the triumph of goodness, not a standoff. For Martin, the forces of evil seem to have gotten the upper hand.

2. While at sea, Candide experiences a resurging belief in optimism. What factors have caused his revived optimism? While Martin and Candide are arguin in effect whether this is the best or worst of all possible worlds, they witness a sea battle between two ships, one of them belonging to the Dutch pirate Vanderdendur. When his ship sinks, a red sheep floats over to the ship on which Candide and Martin are sailing. Candide takes this as an omen that he may see Cunegonde again. His hope of seeing Cunegonde, the omen of the sheep, even a good meal, contribute to his reviving optimism. Voltaire shows that Candide’s attitude is becoming influenced by circumstances rather than philosophy, and also by the strength of his hope of finding his love Cunegonde.

3. Martin’s pessimistic view of human behavior is outlined in this chapter. Although he is, in a sense, an anti-Pangloss, Voltaire does not make Martin’s views appear as ridiculous as those of Pangloss. Is this evidence that Voltaire prefers reasonable pessimism or, at least, skepticism to excessive optimism? Martin’s observations often seem just. He points out the fallacy in Candide’s thinking when Candide applauds Vanderdendur’s “punishment.” Martin reminds Candide that many other people who had nothing to do with the captain’s dishonesty died with Vanderdendur. Martin is a realist, and unlike Pangloss, he does not seem to distort reality to fit his philosophy.

Chapter 21

1. What part of France is now the setting for the novella? Bordeaux

2. Compare Martin to Candide’s previous companion, Cacambo. Like Cacambo, Martin is not shocked by human behavior. He finds it quite plausible, as did Cacambo, that girls should take monkeys as lovers.

3. Why did Voltaire replace Cacambo with Martin?

4. Note that Voltaire’s satire of Parisian and French ways is introduced in this chapter.
Chapter 22

1. What French city is now the setting for the novella? Paris

2. Candide’s stay in France, though brief, is treated in detail by Voltaire. Most of the chapter is devoted to a satire of the over-sophisticated society of Paris as witnessed by the simple foreigner, Candide. What are the chief characteristics of Parisian society as portrayed by Voltaire? The chief characteristics of Parisian society as portrayed by Voltaire are its greed and its love of controversy for its own sake. Nearly everyone Candide meets in Paris is trying to take advantage of him. Candide’s wealth brings out “friends” wherever he goes. The abbe from Perigord is the prototype of this venal aspect of Parisian society. He attaches himself to Candide in the guise of a friend, eager to guide him to the pleasures of Paris. But his motives are, in reality, purely financial. He gets a cut from Candide’s losses at cards and from the sale of the diamonds that Candide gave to the marquise. He hopes to swindle Candide out of much more in the encounter with the false Cunegonde.
Chapter 23

1. Chapter 23 is a detour in a literal and figurative sense. How and why? England is hardly on the way to Venice, but Voltaire has his characters go out of their way to be able to treat a matter of great concern to him.

  1. How does the execution of a British admiral, a similar execution actually took place in 1757, allow Voltaire to comment on the futility of war? Martin compares the relative craziness of the French and English; he cites the futility of the war between the two countries over Canada, “a few acres of snow,” as an indication of mutual insanity. The absurdity of the rules of war can be seen in Candide’s observation that, though the French admiral was equally as far from the British admiral as the British was from him, the French admiral was not executed.

  2. Over what are the French and the English fighting? Canada

  1. Candide is horrified at the admiral’s execution and refuses to set foot on shore; he heads directly for Venice. At the end of this chapter, Candide’s optimism is renewed. On what is that optimism based? Candide pays the ship’s captain to take him directly to Venice, where he will be reunited with his beloved Cunegonde. His faith in Cacambo and his hope of seeing Cunegonde renew his optimism. It is an optimism based precariously on hope.

Chapter 24

  1. In what way are Brother Giroflee and Paquette both victims. Brother Giroflee is yet another corrupted clergyman, but with a slight twist. This “amoral” monk is seen as a victim of the system that forced him into the monastery, not as a “bad” man. Paquette, too, is seen more as a “victim” than as a “bad” person.

  2. Identify the similarities between Paquette’s story and that of the old woman. Like the old woman, Paquette goes from one man to another. Also like the old woman, she envisions an unhappy end for herself when her beauty fades. Paquette continues Voltaire’s portrait of women as objects used and discarded by men.

  3. Candide’s hopeful mood at the end of Chapter 23 is waning. How does Martin contribute to Candide’s fading optimism? He is Candide’s constant companion, but he does little to relieve his friend’s unhappiness. In fact, he only increases it. Martin seems to be trying to teach Candide that all is misery, and that people, without exception, are unhappy; events only seem to reinforce the correctness of Martin’s view.

  4. Is Martin’s view of the world accurate? Or is Voltaire just emphasizing how strong Candide’s belief in optimism still is? Candide and Martin are still testing the old woman’s hypothesis that all people are unhappy. Martin calmly defends it again and again. But Candide hopes to disprove it. He wants to find a happy man. Candide’s optimism is difficult to destroy. He reads the meeting with Paquette as another omen that he may yet find Cunegonde.

  5. What two predictions does Martin make in this chapter? 1) Cacambo will not return because he has run off with Candide’s money. 2) Candide’s money will make Paquette and Brother Giroflee only more unhappy.

Chapter 25

  1. Chapter 25 is, in a sense, a digression. Here, Voltaire, through his characters’ discussion of literature and the arts, allows himself to voice some of his own opinions about literature. What are those opinions? What does he say of Lodovico Ariosto, Cicero, Homer, Horace, John Milton, Raphael, Seneca, Torquato Tasso, Virgil?

  2. Lord Pococurante, a Venetian nobleman, is a man of taste and independent judgment. Why does Martin admire him and why is Candide shocked by him? Martin admires Pococurante for his taste and independent judgment. Candide, on the other hand, is shocked by Pococurante’s independence. Up until this point, he himself has always had a teacher and a guide in forming his opinions.

  3. What is the significance of the name Pococurante? Pococurante means caring little. This sums up the nobleman. He has everything, but his life is empty. He enjoys nothing; he is bored. Martin, cynic and pessimist that he is, sees that Pococurante’s lack of involvement in life is no answer to the misery of life.

Chapter 26

  1. Candide and Martin now encounter Cacambo, now slave of a Turkish sultan. What news does Cacambo have of Cunegonde? Cunegonde is not in Venice but in Constantinople (Istanbul).

  2. The main focus of this chapter is the encounter with the six dethroned kings, all of whom are real historical figures. Each of them tells his story of realms lost. What is the image created by their narratives? As the kings tell their stories of realms lost, often by violence, the idea of fate, or providence is raised. A man can be king one day and in prison the next. These six kings create an image of an unstable world. Their stories illustrate the same rise and fall of fortunes that are evident in Candide’s own story. All, in the words of the Polish king, have had to submit to providence.

Chapter 27

  1. What further news of Cunegonde does Cacambo relate to Candide? Cacambo tells how, after ransoming Cunegonde, he was robbed of the remainder of the money Candide had given him by a pirate who then sold him and Cunegonde into slavery. Cunegonde is now washing dishes for an impoverished, exiled king. To top it all off, she has grown horribly ugly.

  2. Candide, Martin, and Cacambo set sail for the shores of Propontis. What two familiar faces do they encounter among the slaves on the galley? Pangloss and the young baron

  3. At this point in Candide, the momentum begins to build toward the conclusion. The major characters of the novel reassemble. What important themes of the novel are referred to? The capriciousness of fate in Cacambo’s story, Candide’s continued attachment to optimism, the universality of human misery as voiced by Martin.

Chapter 28

  1. Identify the difference between Pangloss and Candide in how each one views optimism. Candide reacts to circumstances, so his optimism wavers. He asks questions and has doubts when things go bad. When he defends optimism, he is reacting to what he has seen or experienced. He tries in some way to tie his belief to reality, to his observations. Pangloss’s faith, on the other hand, is blind. Reality does not shake it.

Chapter 29

  1. Compare Cunegonde as she now is presented with the old woman. The old woman’s description of herself in Chapter 11 is reflected in the way Cunegonde looks in Chapter 29. Their fates have been similar; Cunegonde, ravaged by time and harsh experience, is now a servant.

  2. How does Candide’s reaction to the baron’s arrogance demonstrate the change he has undergone? Candide’s new proposal of marriage recalls the first time he asked the baron’s permission to marry Cunegonde in South America. Then, he reacted physically to the baron’s arrogance. He struck him with his sword. Here, Candide reacts verbally by losing his temper. In Chapter 15, Candide was respectful, even deferential, to the baron. After he stabbed him, he was filled with remorse. Now, he has only scorn for the baron, whom he considers an ungrateful idiot. The respectful Candide has given way here to the independent Candide, who speaks his own mind.

Chapter 30

  1. At the beginning of Chapter 30, all the loose ends of the story are tied together, but the group is still unhappy. What new element of torment has entered their lives? Boredom. The old woman implies that this suffering may be the worst of all.

  2. What two important encounters take place in the course of Chapter 30 which influence Candide’s decision to farm? The encounter with the Turkish philosopher (dervish) and the encounter with the old man.

  3. The dervish, a devout member of a Muslim religious order, advises, “Hold your tongue.” He refuses to answer directly Candide’s questions about evil, thus appearing to deny man’s ability to find the answers to certain age-old questions. Is Voltaire, through the dervish, denying the validity of all philosophy, of any attempt to systematize reality? The dervish wants no part of Pangloss’s systems and abstractions. Is Voltaire’s answer to the question of evil in the world simply that it’s not worth asking?

  4. What cultivating one’s garden implies is the great question in Candide. Is the garden a retreat from the world, a symbolic turning of one’s back on corruption and evil? Such retreat appears to be a mark of pessimism — the world is evil and there is nothing you can do about it. Does it signify that by concentrating contentedly on one’s own domain, one can hope to improve at least a corner of the world? Is it a rejection of philosophy’s effectiveness and a call to action, to do? Man’s role on earth is to do, not to worry about why he is here or why evil exists.

  1. What is meliorism and how does that relate to the message of Candide? The commitment to action. It stated that people, through reason, can devise a means of improving both society and the individual’s condition in society. This belief in progress, and in the positive power of human reason, was common to the 18th century, often called the era of the Enlightenment. All may not always be for the best, but people can work to make things better. By doing your part to improve conditions, instead of merely preaching, you may even influence others. Some would say that by selling the fruits of their “garden” to the city, Candide and his friends are symbolically spreading their ideas to the outside world.

  2. What changes have taken place in Candide by the end of the novella? Through his experiences, Candide has realized the impossibility of philosophical optimism. But he also rejects both the pessimism and cynicism that he has observed do not bring contentment. Candide arrives at this own solution, based on observation and experience. He has developed the ability to judge for himself. In Chapter 30, he may still rely on the old woman for advice in practical matters, but he makes his final decision about life alone, after personal reflection. That his decision is a wise one is suggested when the others agree to go along with him. Everyone realizes that it is time to stop talking and start doing.


 optimism Voltaire’s satire of philosophical optimism is one of the major issues of Candide. Throughout the story, satirical references to “the best of all possible worlds” contrast with natural catastrophes and human wrongdoings. What does this destruction of optimism imply? Does it imply the triumph of pessimism? Is the conclusion of Candide a pessimistic withdrawal from a corrupt world? Or is its affirmation of work a modest, but nonetheless hopeful, commitment to life and change? This idea was labeled “meliorism” by others, and its chief tenet was the belief that people can actively work to create a better world. This connects with “cultivating our garden” as presented in Chapter 30.

 the problem of evil Evil, in its many forms, is something that Candide must constantly confront. It can take the form of a natural disaster, such as the Lisbon earthquake. More often, it is man-made: the cruelty of slavery and the Spanish Inquisition, the savagery of war, even greed and dishonesty. Candide is always questioning how and why such evils exist. A partial answer can be found in the words of the Turkish philosopher, the dervish, in the last chapter. Some answers to the problem of evil can be found in the ideal world of Eldorado.

 the role of fate or Providence In Candide, Voltaire attacks not only the blanket optimism of Dr. Pangloss, but the religious notion of providence, the idea that there is a divine will guiding earthly events. The fact that good and bad alike suffer and die seems to be evidence that God is not in charge. Moreover, there seems little indication that any intelligible rational design can be found in life’s progression from disaster to disaster. Things seem to happen at random as Candide, Cunegonde, and the other characters are often pictured as victims of fate or circumstances. In denying providence as a beneficent guiding principle, Voltaire appears to be saying that either no rational pattern exists in the world, or, if it does, it is not readily evident to human beings. Some see Candide’s final decision to concentrate on doing useful work as Voltaire’s rejection of attempts to answer the question of why things happen in favor of simply acting to improve the world.

 free will The idea of free will is closely tied to the theme of fate. Candide raises the question of an individual’s control over his own destiny. A long-standing debate among philosophers is whether man is predestined to a certain fate, and, if he is, what happens to free will and moral choice? Does it matter whether a man chooses to do good or evil if he is destined to act in a certain way, in any case? The characters in Candide seem to be pawns of fate; yet, at the end of the tale, Candide chooses what he will do with his life. He hopes to find contentment, and, in a certain measure, he does.

 an attack on religion The hypocrisy of religion, especially that of the Roman Catholic Church, is a recurrent theme in Candide. But other religions — Protestantism, Judaism, Islam — also receive the sting of Voltaire’s wit. Underlying the satire of religious practices is Voltaire’s outrage at all forms of fanaticism and intolerance. He relentlessly exposes the cruelties perpetrated in God’s name. Some readers have seen Voltaire’s view of religion as too one-sided, emphasizing only the negative aspects of religion without acknowledging its benefits. Others see Voltaire as exposing the abuses of religion without denying the validity of religion per se.

 the importance of work The theme of work and its beneficent effects is announced by the good old man of Chapter 30, who urges work as the antidote to “boredom, vice, and poverty.” Work is essential to attain the contentment that the travelers find on their farm. Although this theme is brought up late, it is important for an understanding of the conclusion of Candide.


 use of exaggeration, irony, and contrast to convey the humor of a situation or the emptiness of an argument

 mix of simple, declarative sentences with longer, complex sentences, marked by multiple clauses

 matched with the character; e.g., Pangloss’s sentences are complicated, piling clause upon clause as he spins his justifications. The old woman’s tale is full of adjectives, colorful exaggerations, and dramatic touches when she describes her splendid past life in Italy.

 essential to the quality of style: clarity, adaptability to different narrative moods, consistent forward movement (lively pace)

third person omniscient narrator, revealing the characters’ thoughts and emotions Much more is revealed about Candide’s thoughts and emotions than is revealed about the other characters. It is his story; he is the central character.


 3 parts: 1) Ch. 1-10 - setting is Europe; 2) Ch. 11-20 - voyage to and travels across South America; 3) Ch. 21-30 - set in the Old World

 irresistible forward motion: unexplained encounters, mysterious reunions, cliff-hanging devices

CHARACTERS IN CANDIDE - Describe each of the following characters and explain his/her significance in the novella.
Candide - from the French for “pure, innocent, naive”. This story is an adventure and a romance. Some readers have seen it as the story of a young man’s education, of his journey from naivete to maturity. He begins as a gullible, simple soul, with a naive faith in his teacher Pangloss. This faith allows him to believe that all is for the best in the world. As Candide’s eyes are opened, he loses his belief in optimism. For a time, he has nothing to replace his former optimism, but in the final chapter he finds a new belief — in work as a means to contentment. Candide’s character evolves in various ways. He becomes more realistic and less idealistic. Always a questioner, he comes in time to modify his reactions to the answers he’s given, in accordance with his newly gained experiences. At the beginning of the tale, for example, he accepts the optimist’s justification for the evils he encounters. But as his journey continues, he questions how anything seen universally as evil can be for the best. Candide is a more independent man at the end of the story than he is at the beginning. Not everything about Candide changes. Despite his excessive optimism as the story opens, he is portrayed as also have positive characteristics: “an honest mind and great simplicity of heart.” He is loyal to his friends and to Cunegonde. He remains a kind man, generous, and honest in his dealings with others. Some of his negative characteristics do not leave him completely, either. Although he is less naive as he settles in Constantinople, he is still gullible enough to be swindled out of the last of his money in the final chapter.

Pangloss - the character that changes the least. He is the optimist philosopher who remains the optimist philosopher, even after he is hanged, sent to the galley as a prisoner, and caused to lose an eye and an ear. He is a foil for Candide. Although Pangloss is physically absent for much of the story, he is always present in spirit. Pangloss may stand for more than just philosophical optimism — he may stand for philosophy itself, for any attempt to reduce the world to a single system of belief. True to his name which in Greek means “all tongue,” Pangloss’s main role is to state and restate his belief in optimism, despite all the evidence to the contrary. He is a deliberately ludicrous figure, since Voltaire is trying to expose the absurdity of the beliefs he stands for.

Cunegonde - Like Pangloss, Cunegonde is often physically absent in Candide. Also like Pangloss, Cunegonde is nearly always present in spirit. Candide’s journey is a journey to find Cunegonde and make her his bride. She is the beloved, the lovely Cunegonde whom he struggles so long to find. As his optimist philosophy crashes about him, Cunegonde is his ray of hope. The final irony for Candide is that when he does find Cunegonde she is no longer the lovely young girl he remembered. She has grown ugly, and, after their marriage, she turns into a shrew. She is a practical, adaptable woman who manages to make her way in may difficult situations. Although she is a sensualist who takes what pleasure she can find whether it’s food or love, she is much more of a realist than Candide. Her lack of devotion to ideas or ideals allows her to enjoy life despite its disasters. It also allows her to love Candide but at the same time make do with others. She is shown in a positive way to be a strong, practical individual who copes well in terrible situations. Yet, in the portraits of Cunegonde and the others, you may see pitiful women at the mercy of men, passed from hand to hand until their beauty fades and they become washerwomen. On the one hand, Cunegonde seems a natural survivor; on the other hand, she is merely a victim.

Old Woman - The old woman is present for only part of the tale. The old woman serves as both a servant and an adviser to Cunegonde. Not only does she reunite Cunegonde with Candide, she also advises Cunegonde on her conduct. The old woman also acts as a counselor to Candide, above all in practical matters. She has good common sense. She is worldly-wise, and her advice is sound in helping both Cunegonde and Candide out of some sticky situations. Like Cunegonde, she has a great love for life and is able to land on her feet. The old woman can be seen as a representation of common sense and practicality. She can also be regarded as a cynical voice, worldly-wise in a more negative sense.

Cacambo - Another major character, whose function seems to overlap that of the old woman and Martin, is the “faithful” Cacambo, Candide’s servant. He is also adviser. Without him Candide would have been lost, either eaten by the Biglugs or executed by the Jesuits. It is Cacambo’s resourcefulness that gets Candide out of both situations. He is also worldly-wise, never shocked by the strange situations that astonish the naive Candide. It is possible to see a trace of cynicism in his reactions to events — e.g., when he talks the Biglugs out of eating him and Candide. His other outstanding trait is his loyalty. He appears always to act in Candide’s best interest. In addition to being Candide’s servant and adviser, he is also his friend.

Martin - the scholar Martin. A kind of counterweight to Pangloss. Martin is the spokesman for philosophical pessimism that believes all is for the worst, or a cynicism that questions the good motives of others. Martin sees evil running rampant in the world. Martin is more complex than most of the other characters in Candide. He fills the role of friend and adviser; he is also a commentator and evaluator, a confirmed cynic, and a loyal friend.

Young Baron - Cunegonde’s brother, representative of an overbearing, conceited, privileged aristocracy. He has few personal traits to commend him. He is ungrateful to Candide and would deny his sister her happiness because of Candide’s lack of noble birth. The young baron personifies the society that is not receptive to men of talent and honor.

Paquette - Paquette begins as a servant and becomes a prostitute. Paquette is a flirt, but she is also a sympathetic character. In Chapter 24 she is portrayed more as a victim than as a “bad” woman. Her life is redeemed when she finds her niche on the farm and has productive work to do.

Brother Giroflee - Paquette’s lover and companion. Appears at first as a negative character, a hypocritical monk. Later he is portrayed as a victim of a system that forced young men into religious orders at an early age. Themain representative of the type of hypocritical, immoral clergy that appears elsewhere in Candide. He is redeemed when he becomes an honest man through work.

Jacques - The representative of the “good man.” His benevolence — demonstrated when he helps Candide and Pangloss, clothes the naked, and feeds the hungry — is in direct contrast to the hypocritical preacher of charity in Holland. He practices the Christian virtues that the preacher only talks about.

Pococurante - From the Italian “caring little.” A one-sided man of exquisite taste and refinement who derives no pleasure from his possessions. Caring little about anything, he despises everything. He possesses “all the best” but his life is full of boredom and distaste for everything. He voices many of Voltaire’s opinions in art and literature, but this “professional critic” is a negative character.

The Abbe of Perigord - Another of the many immoral characters with a religious affiliation, the abbe is Candide’s guide to the “pleasures” of Paris. He is a swindler, a hypocrite, a flatterer — the archetype of the parasite, the man who lives off others.

Vanderdendur - The thieving merchant, pirate and swindler, he forms a neat contrast to the honest merchant, Jacques.

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