AP English Candide (1759)
Mrs. Novak Study Questions
DIRECTIONS: Respond to the following questions by examining the central ideas of Voltaire’s novel. Use complete sentences and support all your assertions with evidence from the text. Please note that many of these questions call for your informed opinion.
1. Explain Candide: his name, personality, what he represents. Satirical function?
2. Explain Pangloss: his name, personality, what he represents. Satirical function?
3. Explain Cunégonde: her name, personality, what she represents? Satirical function?
4. Comment on the references in Chapter 2 to the Prussian army of Frederick the Great and Candide’s gullibility as a result of Pangloss’s teachings.
5. How does Candide exercise his “free will” in Chapter 2?
6. What does Voltaire want the reader to see regarding the cruelty and savagery of war in Chapter 3?
7. How does Voltaire portray religious hypocrisy and intolerance in Chapter 3?
8. Contrast Pangloss's philosophical optimism with the reality of what happens to him and Lady Cunégonde as he reveals in Chapter 4.
9. Explain the importance of the line “Men were not born wolves, yet they have become wolves” (31).
10. Contrast the thinking of Pangloss with that of James the Anabaptist.
11. Discuss the reference to the Lisbon earthquake in Chapter 5. How does Pangloss justify the earthquake?
12. Discuss Voltaire’s intent in examining the Inquisition as fanaticism and intolerance in Chapter 6. Who are the heretics?
13. What causes Candide to begin questioning Pangloss's philosophy?
14. Discuss the reunion between Candide and Cunégonde in Chapter 7. How is this chapter a parody of the romantic adventure story?
15. What is strange about the way Cunégonde describes her treatment by the Bulgars in Chapter 8?
16. Describe the arrangement between the Grand Inquisitor and Don Issachar.
17. Comment on Cunégonde's description of the auto-da-fé.
18. What is the purpose of the old woman's story in Chapter 11-12? What wisdom has she acquired from her experiences? Do you think Voltaire shares her attitude toward suffering?
19. Why does Candide kill Cunégonde’s brother in Chapter 15?
20. Why does Voltaire include Chapter 26 about the girls with the monkeys for lovers and the Oreillons? What is Voltaire's view of "man in a state of nature," judging from this chapter? (Look up the allusion to Rousseau and connect this scene with Rousseau’s views of civilization.) Is this chapter satirizing the "savages" of South America, European civilization, or both? Explain.
21. Can one view Eldorado (Chapters 17-18) as Voltaire's "utopia," the "best of all possible worlds"? Explain.
22. Why do Candide and Cacambo decide to leave such a paradise and return to a world filled with greed, lust, dishonesty, cruelty, and violence? What aspects of human nature might Voltaire be satirizing when he writes, “So these happy men decided to be happy no longer and to take leave of His majesty” (83)?
23. Soon after leaving Eldorado, Candide and Cacambo encounter a slave who has had a leg and a hand cut off. He tells them, “That’s the price of your eating sugar in Europe” (86). What relationship does Voltaire suggest here between wealth and poverty, between pleasure and suffering, between prosperity and exploitation? Could Voltaire make the same point if he were writing today?
24. Martin believes that man is equally miserable wherever he lives and says that even “in those towns which seem to enjoy the blessings of peace and where the arts flourish, men suffer more from envy, cares, and anxiety than a besieged town suffers from the scourges of war, for secret vexations are much more cruel than public miseries. In short, I have seen and experienced so much, that I am forced to believe that man’s origin is evil” (92). Is Martin’s view (as expressed here and elsewhere) more accurate than Pangloss’s, or does it simply represent the other extreme?
25. Chapter 22 (describing Candide's adventures in Paris) is the longest chapter in the work. What aspects of urban life in general and, perhaps, Paris in particular come in for satire/criticism?
26. Comment on the execution of the British Admiral. How is the theme of war developed in Chapter 23?
27. What is the story of Paquette and Brother Giroflee? Are they "bad" people or victims? Why are they unhappy? Do you think there is any happiness in their lives?
28. Comment on Candide's exposure to the topic of literature and the arts in Chapter 25. What is the importance of independent judgment?
29. What is the meaning of the encounter with the six dethroned kings in Chapter 26?
30. What is Cacambo’s story in Chapter 27?
31. How does Candide discover the identity of Pangloss and Cunégonde’s brother on the journey to Constantinople?
32. Candide is sustained throughout his many ordeals by the hope of being reunited with Cunégonde. But when he does at last find her, she has become ugly and ill-tempered. What does Voltaire suggest about the nature of romantic love?
33. Although Pangloss has been horribly disfigured by syphilis, hanged, dissected, beaten, and made to row in a galley, he still adheres to his original view that this is the best of all possible worlds: “I still hold my original views . . . for I am still a philosopher. It would not be proper for me to recant . . ." (136). What should we make of his unwavering position (as expressed here and elsewhere)?
34. At the end of the novel, Martin says, “We must work without arguing . . . that is the only way to make life bearable" (144), echoing the Turkish farmer who says, “ . . . work banishes those three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty” (143). Indeed, several of the main characters take up productive, manual labor. Do you think Voltaire endorses this view? Why would doing physical work be preferable to the life of a philosopher?
35. Explain the work's famous closing line: “ . . . we must go and work in the garden” (144).
36. In the very first chapter, Candide is literally kicked out of “the most beautiful and delightful of all possible castles,” expelled from an “earthly paradise” (21, 22). At the end of the novel, he is cultivating his own garden and eating candied fruit and pistachios (144). What does Voltaire suggest by framing his story in this way? Is he echoing the Biblical story of the Fall? Has Candide lost and then regained paradise?
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