Voltaire's candide



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Breanna Borror

Mr. Newcome

AP Literature

12/2/10


Candide: By Voltaire Notes

Beck, Ervin. "Voltaire's CANDIDE." The Explicator 57.4 (1999): 203. Student Edition. Web. 22 Nov. 2010.




  1. Philosophical tales- asks a philosophical question and answers it in a entertaining way

  2. Candide advocates philosophical skepticism in structure

  3. Thirty chapters, three sections, each one a journey

  4. First section- Candide and friends in Europe

  5. Second section in America and Third in Turkey and Europe with voyages by sea in between

  6. Symbolic geography- Old World (evil)→ New World (new possibilities)→ Europe and turkey (resting place)

  7. El Dorado- unattainable goal; Turkey- “new golden mean” ideal place yet still with evil of Europe and human effort of El Dorado

  8. Voltaire give Candide a different guide for each section to “reinforce implied symbolic geography”

  9. Pangloss- Philosophical Optimism

  10. Cacambo- mean between the two extremes (the skepticism that propels the book)

  11. Martin- Philosophical pessimism

  12. Cacambo- rarely speaks, and his silence conveys that he is not sure about many things and knows that ultimate reality is not definite

  13. “Prudent Cacambo” practical, efficient, knows what is to be done, accomplishes tasks

  14. Cacambo has practical talents: choir-boy. Sarcristan, sailor monk, postman, soldier and lackey

  15. He does things on Candide’s behalf successfully

  16. He represents philosophical skepticism and helps satirize the other two alternatives

  17. In El Dorado Cacambo translated the language for Candide and showed even more skill

  18. Cacambo transports Cunegonde to turkey and brought Candide to her

  19. In chapter 30 there is a debate on what to do with the baron, when all three mentors (Martin, Pangloss and Cacambo) offer a solution the community picks Cacambo’s proposal

  20. Cacambo is the founder of the Harden colony- he delivered Cunegonde and the Old Woman there

  21. Cacambo is the first person to cultivate and work the land

  22. He works in the garden first and others follow his lead and begin to work the land

  23. Thus leading to the motto of the book, “We must cultivate our gardens” (328)

  24. The author feel that it would not be wise to get to attached with Cacambo’s values

  25. Voltaire renders these values attractive through Cacambo: golden mean, common sense, philosophical skepticism

  26. Even more ironic is where Voltaire got the name Cacambo

  27. He formed the hero- Cacambo’s name from the Spanish word caca meaning “excrement”

  28. The author of the article makes several predictions as to Voltaire’s name choice in Cacambo

  29. The name choice may allude to Cacambo’s close proximity to the basic processes of life

  30. His name may have been picked by Voltaire for Cacambo’s low esteem many characters regard him

  31. Candide takes a unresponsive or stoic approach to life

  32. The author of the article presumes that Cacambo is Voltaires comment on an alternate worlds.

  33. Voltaire suggests that Cacambo’s philosophy is the type of world humans must accept instead of El Dorado or Pangloss’s optimism

  34. El Dorado is unattainable for humans

  35. Pangloss’s optimism is unbelievable when faced with the tragedy of life

SCHERR, ARTHUR. "Voltaire's CANDIDE." The Explicator 59.2 (2001): 74. Student Edition. Web. 12 Nov. 2010.




  1. Dutch Antibaptist Jacque is only in chapters 3-5 of Candide

  2. Candide Scholars debate his signifigance in the novel

  3. Most scholars believe Jacques to be the only truly self-sacrificing figure

  4. this scholar belives Jaques to be more of a self-interested business man than a naiver do-gooder

  5. In chapter three candied is fleeing from military service in the Bulgarian/Abarian war

  6. Candide meets Jacques while fleeing

  7. When no one else will help Candide and he is penniless and starving in Holland

  8. Jacques comes along to help Candide and is described as “an honest Anabaptist”

  9. Voltire uses satire when Jaques makes an objection to how Candide was being treated

  10. Jacques refers to Candide as his brother-

  11. "cruel and ignominious treatment of one of his brothers, a featherless two-legged creature with a soul [Candide]; he took him home, cleaned him up, gave him bread and beer, presented him with two forms [eighty cents in that period's money, but about twenty dollars today], and even offered to teach him to work at the manufacture of Persian stuffs which are made in Holland" (235-36).

  12. It is revealed that Jacques is not as innocent as a soul as he claims

  13. He is a dishonest salesman

  14. Jacques fraudulently tries to sell and pass of rugs as tapestries

  15. He is manufacturing the rugs for sale in holland as more exotic and expensive “Persian stuffs”

  16. Jacques is a kind yet dishonest business man

  17. Jacques wants Candide to be one of his workers possibly in a sweatshop

  18. his generosity to Candide may not of been unselfish

  19. it is possible Jacques only fed Candide knowing that he would owe him and then Candide might work for him cheaply

  20. The Anabaptist is also cheap and possibly hired a quack or underqualified doctor

  21. This led to the loss of Pangloss’s eye and one ear.

  22. This is satirized as "Pangloss only lost one eye and one ear"

  23. After paying for Pangloss to be cures he tries to make use of his abilities

  24. Pangloss is well educated-"he could write well and knew arithmetic perfectly"-and the Anabaptist makes him his bookkeeper (238-39)

  25. Jacques most likely employed the scholar for very little expense (cheap labor)

  26. Jacques is a character that expects to have increased efficiency and profits for his generosity

  27. Disputing Pangloss’s optimistic dictum that "everything is for the best," Jacques voices his disgust with humanity

  28. Jacque does not agree with Pangloss and charges that in society "men have become wolves:"

  29. Jacque gives two examples of man’s beast like qualities

  30. He believes that sanguinary wars show evil in the world

  31. Jacques gives the example of the government’s seizure of property of bankrupt individuals

  32. "Justice which seizes the goods of bankrupts in order to deprive the creditors of them" (239).

  33. This quote suggests that Jacques is a rather mercenary individual

  34. He most likely is resentful to bankruptcy laws had deprived him of the right to more profit

  35. He may have tried to seize the property of delinquent debtors in the past.

  36. Satire* Jacques tragic death occurs as a result of a benevolent act

  37. When on board a ship a huge storms come and happens b/c famou1755 earthquake

  38. Jacques is thrown overboard after saving a sailor who previously knocked him over the head

  39. Satire* unlikely occurrence makes a deadly scenario comical

  40. The sailor hit Jacques for trying to help the crew during the violent storm

  41. The sailor went overboard because of the force he hit Jacques with

  42. Jacques went overboard from the struggle of saving the sailor

  43. The sailor doesn’t even look to help Jacques and simply lets him drown

  44. "ran to his aid, helped him to climb back, and from the effort he made was flung into the sea in full view of the sailor, who allowed him to drown without condescending even to look at him" (239-40).

  45. Voltaire designed this section for comic effect

  46. First glance- telling reader even the truly virtuous Jacques (appears to be) is not exempt from the cruelty of life

  47. Suggests Jacques to be the most likely victim- good often suffer more than evil

  48. Second glance- Jacques was only acting rationally

  49. He didn’t realize he would be drowned and figured the more men the less likely they would sink

  50. He was trying to help save the ship before the sailor hit him

  51. Saves the sailor that hit him to save himself (didn’t want the ship to sink)

  52. The “philanthropic” works of the Anabaptist Jacques are characteristic of 18th century liberal capitalism (Adam Smith’s Wealth of Nations (1776): the “invisible hand”

  53. Idea that individual, competitive self-interest increases prosperity and well-being for the whole community

  54. Voltaire agreed with this idea if everyone simply took care of themselves we’d all be better off

  55. This is a huge theme Voltaire uses in Candide: self preservation

  56. Voltaire uses this idea to justify the Anabaptist Jacques as a “good” man



Unknown. "Voltaire's "Candide"." SIRS Renaissance. 12 May 2004: n.p. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 20 Nov. 2010.

  1. The original title of the book was Candide; ou, L'Optimisme

  2. In English that means Candide; or Optimism- most know the book by just Candide

  3. Leaving the word “optimism out in itself is ironic

  4. Most compelling theme of the novel “is whether humankind lives in the best of all possible worlds or in one that is full of indiscriminate evil and sorrow.”

  5. Voltaire discusses the 17th and 18th century philosophy of optimistic determinism

  6. Philosopher Gottfried Leibniz thought God created a world of perfect order and reason

  7. This would be similar to Pangloss- anything that happens is meant to be

  8. Alexander Pope- everyone is part of God’s grand design

  9. Alexander believed those who do bad are part of the greater good

  10. Pangloss, Candide’s friend/mentor views the world with optimism

  11. Pangloss even had explanation’s for existence of evil people and bad events

  12. "Private misfortunes make for public welfare,"- suffering of one leads to positive outcome for all society

  13. Candide first accepts Pangloss’s Utopian philosophy

  14. Candide even tried to see the positive in inhumane treatment and natural disasters

  15. The event that initiates conflict is when Candide is kicked out of his castle

  16. He was kicked out for kissing the daughter of the castle’s owner

  17. Candide travels half way around the world and tragedy never leaves him

  18. Candide sees terrible war and is tricked into the Bulgar army (remains optimistic)

  19. Candide escapes the army to find Pangloss has syphilis and no money for a doctor

  20. They meet a friend who dies in a shipwreck (remain optimistic)

  21. Upon making it to Lisbon- giant earthquake devastates city (remain optimistic)

  22. Both captured by Spanish inquisitors sentenced to death (remain optimistic)

  23. Candide witness more in humanity in his young life than most due in their lifetime

  24. Even so he did not witness the full spectrum of “man’s inhumanity to man”

  25. Voltaire’s exaggeration of the magnitude of evil on Candide – two purposes

  26. Candide serves as an example of pain and sorrow that is all over the globe

  27. Candide served to satirize and criticize the religious structures of the time

  28. Voltaire felt most views of his time were hypocritical and contrary to the greater good

  29. The more hardships and pain Candide suffered the less optimistic he was

  30. There was a break in tragedy when Candide was in El Dorado

  31. He leaves so he can seek Cunegonde, he loves and misses her

  32. On journey outside El Dorado his is quickly met with difficult times

  33. The diamonds he received in El Dorado were almost immediately stolen

  34. He pays a ship captain for his intended journey and the captain takes off with the precious goods, (and unique sheep)

  35. By this time Candide sees evil in the world

  36. Candide sees malicious people as wicked predators

  37. He no longer sees reason in his suffering

  38. He has a new mentor Martin who is completely opposite Pangloss

  39. Martin is a pessimist and though Candide doubts optimism he disagrees with Martin too.

  40. Candide’s views fall in-between Martin’s and Pangloss’s

  41. The three work together in the end to purchase a farm

  42. Martin’s final philosophy is to not question the way of the world

  43. Martin- “work without theorizing” is the only way “to make life endurable”

  44. Pangloss continues to push his optimistic view

  45. Pangloss tells Candide that if not for all his hardship they wouldn’t have such a peaceful farm

  46. To this Candide responds with the most famous quote from the book:

  47. Candide responds: “That’s well said… but we must cultivate our garden.”

  48. This represents both the theme and the resolution of the book

  49. The article suggests an analysis of this line

  50. The world is both bad and good

  51. An individual must go about their own business and do an honest job to survive- the best way

  52. Life goes on, the world continues not depending on human actions (regardless)

Wood, Michael. "Notes on "Candide"." New England Review (Vol. 26, No. 4). 2005: 192-202. SIRS Renaissance. Web. 25 Nov 2010.



  1. Optimism is a philosophy in spite of small errors Gos’s creation is as good as it can be

  2. Candide’s world is corrupt and evil with endless disasters where the weak and innocent are exploited

  3. Voltaire made a point that human beings cannot escape selfishness, it is nessesary

  4. Good and evil (in the world) can be accounted as balanced

  5. Voltaire suggests human philosophy has a stake in human behavior

  6.  Theodore Besterman defines optimism theory "that all that is and happens is for the best."

  7. German philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz, proponent of eighteenth-century optimism, who claimed that "the shadows bring out the colors."

  8. Similarly Voltaire writes Pangloss saying, “that the ills of the world are shadows in a beautiful painting”

  9. Voltaire thought Optimism as too hard and too much of a stretch to accept the bad in life as good

  10. Voltaire thought pessimism was too easy and unfounded

  11. "I respect my God," Voltaire wrote in his poem on the Lisbon earthquake of 1755, "but I love the universe

  12. Voltaire satirizes optimism as ignorance

  13. Voltaire balks at the idea that the world is well because I am well

  14. “all is well everywhere because I'm doing pretty well in the tiny corner of the world I happen to know”

  15. Candide is a philosopher as he likes to contemplate over the nature of life

  16. Candide has youth that cause his to look at life differently

  17. Candide does find it hard to believe the world is a bad place if his own affairs are going well

  18. Candide has an advantage in life over Martin

  19. "for he still hoped to see Mademoiselle Cunegonde again, whereas Martin had nothing to hope for."

  20. Candide has something to hold on to a goal to strive for

  21. Candide has always been wealthy in life and he has gold and diamonds

  22. there have been far fewer struggles with basic needs for Candide

  23. "when he thought of what remained in his pockets, and when he talked of Cunegonde especially at the end of a good meal, he still inclined towards the system of Pangloss."

  24. Thus furthering the idea that optimism is easy when life is good around you

  25. "when he thought of what remained in his pockets, and when he talked of Cunegonde especially at the end of a good meal, he still inclined towards the system of Pangloss."

  26. shows that the meal was good so they were able to have a positive out look

  27. "We are going into a new world," he remarks. "No doubt it must be there that all is well."

  28. "and notwithstanding his gentle disposition...floors the Israelite, stone dead at the feet of the lovely Cunegonde."

  29. Candide quickly kills someone who might interfere with his happiness

  30. "you who were born so gentle, to do away with a Jew and a prelate in the space of two minutes?"

  31. this shows that no one can be gentle all the time (speaks to human nature)

  32. "and if there turns out to be a single one of them who has not repeatedly cursed his existence, who has not often said to himself that he is the most unfortunate man alive, then you may throw me into the sea head first."

  33. The woman suggests that her life is worse than Cunegonde

  34. Then she makes a point that everyone has seen a hard time

  35. the old woman refers to their love of life as a "ridiculous weakness,"

  36. New World- Candide feels that all will be well in this new place

  37. Candide even found negatives in the Americas

  38. "this hemisphere is no better than the other."

  39. Candide finds a Utopia in El Dorado

  40. The city of El Dorado is dependent upon isolation

  41. The happiness and innocence is only able to exist without outside intervention

  42. we need the though that there is a Utopia out there

  43. If we just try hard enough, or work enough one day things will be perfect

  44. "All may be well," he wrote in a poem, "that hope can man sustain,/All is well now; 'tis an illusion vain." Eldorado is the fictional illusion that represents the historical hope.

  45. Hope is necessary for society to function

  46. *Irony is that in a story of so many tragedy’s there is a happy ending

  47. Why does this philosophical tale contain no real philosophical discussion?

  48. Why is Cunegonde the only person to age and become ugly?

  49. Candide is a satire, not a confession

  50. This means that he is pointing out the short-comings in the world

  51. He also points out that even to solutions are not sufficient

  52. “He wishes to represent a world that is not absurd and useless, but mysterious”

  53. Voltaire suggests that the world is "simultaneously livable and bad."

  54. Voltaire's "lesson" is both that life is not worth much, and that this "not much" is of the highest value.

  55. “the happy ending is at once ironic and an invitation not to overdo our sense of misery.”

  56. Voltaire's philosophy doesn't require philosophical discussion, indeed requires its absence

  57. in Voltaire's other works. The hero of Zadig turns to philosophy when he has a problem, but receives "only knowledge," and no relief.

  58. "There are no extreme delights or extreme torments which will last a whole lifetime: the sovereign good and the sovereign evil are illusions."

  59. "Man can have only a certain quantity of teeth, hair, and ideas. A time comes when he necessarily loses his teeth, his hair, and his ideas." But there is more to be said, and not only about the loss of Cunegonde's looks.

  60. Candide takes a view that nothing in the world is certain (but he would be happy to see Cunegonde

  61. Cacambo says, "I agree, but we still have two sheep laden with more treasure than the King of Spain will ever possess."

  62. "That is well said, but we must cultivate our garden."

  63. The garden is what there is, beneath and beyond our words;

  64. even philosophy is welcome in the garden

  65. The philosophy must not insist on having any consequences

  66. Philosophy must not get in the way of work, the active cultivation of that earth.

  67. To cultivate the garden, then, is not simply to mind one's own business, a wiser, more sophisticated version of the selfishness the book attacked at its outset. It is to decide not to seek answers to questions that can have none; to remember the concrete "buts" that lie in wait for every grand abstraction

"Review of Candide." The Gentleman's Magazine and Historical Chronicle 29 (May 1759): 233-235. Rpt. in Literature Criticism from 1400 to 1800. Ed. James P. Draper and James E. Person, Jr. Vol. 14. Detroit: Gale Research, 1991. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.

  1. Candide ridicule the idea that ‘all things are for the best’

  2. The book points out evil in the world- war, disease, crime, natural disasters etc.

  3. There is always misery in society

  4. The author of nature: indefinitely good?

  5. If indefinitely good than this is the best of possible worlds

  6. If this isn’t the best of all possible worlds than the author of nature isn’t indefinably good

  7. Debates the topic of ‘whatever is, is right’

  8. Points out these negativities to argue that the author of nature is not indefinitely good

  9. The debate that the author of nature is good stands that we are not knowledgeable enough to understand that the negatives have a purpose

  10. Voltaire understands the philosophy of which he ridicules

  11. In this way he is able to extensively point out the flaws in the optimistic view point

  12. The author relates this ridicule and type of satire to a man offered poison

  13. The man offered poison will end up still alive or dead

  14. The author suggests the man does not live if he doesn’t drink the poison

  15. If the man drinks the poison he will either live or die

  16. “Not considering, that the means and the end are inseparable, and that if it is certain that a man shall die by poison, it is also certain that he shall drink it. (pp. 233-34)”

  17. Thus pointing out the ignorance in the idea that ‘living’ means to our society

Reed, Gail S. "Candide: Radical Simplicity and the Impact of Evil." Literature and Psychoanalysis. Ed. Edith Kurzweil and William Phillips. New York: Columbia University Press, 1983. 189-200. Rpt. in Short Story Criticism. Vol. 112. Detroit: Gale, 2008. Literature Resource Center. Web. 28 Nov. 2010.



  1. Candide follow a familiar story line Voltaire is known for

  2. The protagonist is naïve searching the globe for a woman

  3. In this novel, by the middle of the plot the main character has emotional impact

  4. This suggests the way in which the author faces the existence of evil

  5. How does this interdependence of the reader and the text effect the reader?

  6. The reader does not only react to the text but experience the events through the writing

  7. The experience in Candide is relatable

  8. The pursuit of a wish and frustration is universally understandable

  9. All readers react differently to a text

  10. The reader may feel an array of emotions including anger, displeasure or gratification

  11. The way the plot is organized contributes to the impact of evil

  12. There is a pattern of “expectation and betrayal”

  13. “The hero, innocently desiring Cunégonde and faithfully believing his tutor, is cast out into a best of all possible worlds which proves a mutilating inferno”

  14. Pangloss has taught him this is the best of all possible worlds

  15. When Candide meets difficult situations this belief seems illogical

  16. “Despairing, cold, hungry, and penniless, he finds his flagging faith restored by two strangers who treat him to dinner--then brusquely trick him into military servitude where he is robbed of any modicum of individuality and freedom, and finally stripped of his skin in a beating.”

  17. He is in need, his need is met, he is betrayed and only helped to be hurt

  18. The old woman has a similar story of disappointments

  19. She was once awaiting to be married, when he future husband was murdered

  20. Then “ravished, enslaved, and made witness to the dismemberment of her mother and attendants”

  21. When she thinks that someone has come to rescue her from the pile of dead bodies, the men sell her to be a slave

  22. These tragic events are the normal scene in the novel numbing the reader to constant disappointment

  23. This causes a strong urge to seek security

  24. This pattern of misfortunes is briefly broken in El Dorado

  25. The noel only allows retreat for a short time once gone from El Dorado evil prevails

  26. “Children are castrated to sing in operas, slaves dismembered for disobedience, the military takes brutal possession of Candide's body”

  27. “When brutality is committed in the name of good, when justice condones robbery and charges a fee, when freedom involves a choice between death by clubbing or firing squad, then language becomes the agent of social deception and the social world beyond the magic circle a place of uncertain perception as well as of danger.”

  28. The repeated events of bad in a world that id called good evokes emotion in the reader

  29. The chapter breaks serve as loss of control for the reader the in between events of consecutive events are summarized in a frustrating way for the reader

  30. Voltaire couples comedy with shock to maximize reader response

  31. “For the first half of the tale, over and over again, deftly and economically, the narrative moves the reader from safety to new danger:”

  32. The event of the narrative are made to seem by chance and out of control

  33. This chaos leads to a view from facts to emotions

  34. text structure causes the reader to be in a cycle of wish, frustration, and reactive anger

  35. This cycling emotion causes the reader emotion and wish for “warmth, safety, and security”

Harad, Alyssa. "Interpretive Notes." Candide. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. 153-60. Print.



  1. Themes and Symbols: The Problem of Evil

  2. Candide focuses on the evil that men do as a central theme

  3. Most of the disasters in Candide are man caused (apart from the earthquake)

  4. Though Candide no longer follows Optimism his belief is not replaced

  5. He does not take Martin’s pessimism (too destructive)

  6. “Glories of El Dorado too out of touch with the real world”

  7. Guidelines for Candide’s philosophy may be in the old waman’s resilience or Cacambo’s loyalty

  8. Voltaire offers no solution to the problem of evil

  9. This is apparent in the garden

  10. In the conclusion Candide tells his group that they must tend their gardens

  11. Can be interpreted many ways from extremely literal to figuratively

  12. Literal- Voltaire really enjoyed gardening at his Ferney estate

  13. Allegorical- perhaps Voltaire is suggesting we all live in self-supporting communities

  14. There are many gardens in the book Candide could be referencing

  15. Could be a reference to domesticated nature

  16. Could be Voltaire’s dispute with Rousseau (believed man was essentially good)

  17. The Fickleness of Power and Wealth

  18. Bad things happen to everyone

  19. Even when Candide had wealth he still faced evil

  20. Candide’s fortunes inflate and deflate often

  21. Martin and the old woman- “misery belongs to everyone, and everyone believes his miseries to be the worst.”

  22. Friendship versus Sex and Romance

  23. Candide is a character propelled by his love of Cunegonde

  24. This desire leads to trouble and constant tragedy

  25. Cunegonde’s desire is what starts Candide’s misadventures

  26. Sex and romance gets Pangloss and Cunegonde’s brother in trouble

  27. Cacambo, the old woman, and Martin are true friend and loyal that resist temptations to go agaist what they strive for

  28. “And it is, finally, a kind of friendship that binds together Candide’s motley crew at the last.”

Harad, Alyssa. "Historical and Literary Context" Candide. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2005. XIII-XVII. Print.

  1. Voltaire lived in the time of The Enlightement

  2. This revolution of ideas threatened the church and governments of Europe

  3. The work of Galileo and Martin Luther had started to take effect

  4. Scientist Isaac Newton, Philosopher John Locke- new ways of learning

  5. The Enlightenment created new interest for knowledge and debate

  6. Optimism was a philosophy prevalent in Voltaire’s time

  7. The view was expressed by German Philosopher G.W. von Leibniz’s treatise Theodicée (1710), Alexander Pope’s Essay on Man (1733)

  8. Optimism was the idea that God was all-knowing and powerful and nothing could exist without his permission

  9. To believe in evil was to believe in a power beyond God’s control

  10. The Lisbon earthquake inspired Voltaire

  11. It killed tens of thousands of people on All Saints day November 1, 1755

  12. Eighteen days later another earthquake leveled the city

  13. This gave Optimists a pause- they suggested it was just punishment for people living in cities instead of on the countryside with nature God created

  14. Voltaire created the book to point out the problems with this way of thinking

  15. Satire is a story that sets out to expose the prevailing follies of its day

  16. Candide sets out to explore the problem in the philosophy of optimism


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