Candide, ou l'Optimisme (1759) is a French satire by the Enlightenment philosopher Voltaire, English translations of which have been titled Candide: Or, All for the Best (1759); Candide: Or, The Optimist (1762); and Candide: Or, Optimism (1947). The novella begins with a young man, Candide, who is living a sheltered life in an Edenic paradise and being indoctrinated with Leibnizian optimism (or simply optimism) by his tutor, Pangloss. The work describes the abrupt cessation of this existence, followed by Candide's slow, painful disillusionment as he witnesses and experiences great hardships in the world. Voltaire concludes with Candide, if not outright rejecting optimism, advocating an enigmatic precept, "we must cultivate our garden", in lieu of the Leibnizian mantra of Pangloss, "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". (From feedbooks.com)
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Chapter 1 - How Candide Was Brought Up in a Magnificent Castle and How He Was Driven Thence
Before we begin reading, it is important to note that this text is a satire. Volatire is a prominent figure in the Enlightenment. This is a time period during the eighteenth century where there was an emphasis on reason and logic and a deviation from faith-based ideals. For a clear definition of satire and how it differs from a fable or an allegory, please click on the link below. What is Voltaire mocking or deriding in this text? (This annotation contains a link)
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Why does the Baron exile Candide from Westphalia?
Chapter 2 - What Befell Candide among the Bulgarians
Volatire bases his characterization of the Bulgarians on the Prussian army of Frederick the Great. Frederick the Great was also a figure during the Enlightenment. He established religious freedom, a basic freedom of the press, and a German code of law. He also known as a elevating Prussia to a formidable superpower by strategic use of his military forces and alliances.
Which literary device does the author use to contrast the life Candide lived in Westphalia and his life in exile?
One of the emerging themes in the text is the idea of free will and man's ability to determine his fate rather than a predetermined destiny. Click on the video below for a clear definition of emerging theme. Do you think Voltaire is attacking the idea of free will or the idea that there is divine intervention in the lives of mankind? (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 3 - How Candide Escaped from the Bulgarians and What Befell Him Afterward
Which literary device does Voltaire use in order to illustrate the atrocities and the brutality of war?
Volatire focuses his satire on three philosophies: metaphysics, the study of existence, theology, the study of religion, and cosmology, the study of the universe. As you read, note the criticism of the Catholic Church and other organized religions that have a belief in a deity who oversees mankind. In this chapter, Candide meets an Anabaptist. An Anabaptist is a person who believes in baptism as a sacrament for adults, not children, because it is based on the idea that adults may chose their faith while children may not.
Chapter 4 - How Candide Found His Old Master Pangloss Again and What Happened to Him
Pangloss is a character based on the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm Von Leibnez. Leibenz promoted the idea of metaphysical optimism or the idea mankind is not destined to suffer but to find happiness. Voltaire satirizes this idea by juxtaposing Pangloss's teachings and Candide's beliefs versus the horrible circumstances and realities he faces while on his journey.
According to Pangloss, the source of his current troubles is love. After describing his "love," what he is really referring to?
Throughout the text Candide is faced with two viewpoints: optimism and pessimism. The optimists, like Pangloss, view the difficulties that are faced throughout the journey as means to a happy end. The pessimists serve the purposes of questioners, doubters, and characters who highlight the reality of the situations Candide will find himself in. What do you think Voltaire is trying to express by contrasting these ideas?
Chapter 5 - A Tempest, a Shipwreck, an Earthquake, and What Else Befell Dr. Pangloss, Candide, and James, the Anabaptist
Unlike the events in Chapter Three which are derived from man, the evil in this chapter is in the form of a natural event. This event is actually based on earthquake that occurred in Lisbon, Portugal in 1755 that killed an estimated 60,000 people. Many of the victims were attending mass to celebrate All Saint's Day. What do you think Voltaire is implying through these descriptions?
Natural disasters are often interpreted as a means of "cleansing" society of the ills and immoral behavior. However, in Voltaire's novella Pangloss, Candide, and the sailor survive the shipwreck. When Candide asks Pangloss for some food and wine, Pangloss continues to talk until Candide faints. These examples illustrate the themes of religion and evil. In one regard, Voltaire is attacking the hypocrisy of religion and fallibility of religious beliefs. In terms of evil, Voltaire presents evil in many forms- both man-made and natural. What do you think he is implying about evil?
Chapter 6 - How the Portuguese Made a Superb Auto-De-Fe to Prevent Any Future Earthquakes, and How Candide Underwent Public Flagellation
The term "auto-de-fe" is a term that means an "act of faith." During the Spanish Inquisition, heretics or a religious dissenter would be sentenced and then in the second part of the ceremony they would be executed. The Spanish Inquisition served two purposes: to purge the population of non-Catholics and to maintain the authority of Catholic absolute monarchs. Volatire was an opponent of the absolute monarch and was in favor of the constitutional monarch of Britain. The image below is of the persecution of a dutch Anabaptist during the Inquisition. (This annotation contains an image)
Chapter 7 - How the Old Woman Took Care Of Candide, and How He Found the Object of His Love
How do the actions of the old woman differ from the others whom Candide has met in the text thus far?
The conversation between Candide and Miss Cunegund is different than the other exchanges in the text thus far. Miss Cunegund is frank and straightforward in her account of what has happened to her. It is important to note the contrasts between Miss Cunegund, Candide, and Pangloss.
Chapter 8 - Cunegund's Story
After being sexually assaulted and almost dying at the hands of the Bulgarians, what has ultimately become of Miss Cunegard?
After reading about the "trials" of Miss Cunegund, what do you think about the world she inhabits? Do you think that there is a reason or purpose for all of the ills she suffers?
Chapter 9 - What Happened to Cunegund, Candide, the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jew
When Miss Cunegund is referred to as a "slut" by the "Jew," Candide kills him. When Candide reflects upon his hasty actions, he realizes that he must also kill the "Grand Inquisitor" in order to prevent Miss Cunegund from being "consigned to the flames." Which term best describes Candide in this scene?
As you read, remember that this text is a satire. It is a commentary many elements of Voltaire's world and at times is meant to be humorous. Candide's killing of the two men is actually meant to be humorous on one level because he kills the men without a justification except that he panics and he perceives the men as "rivals." Basically Candide's logic is that heroes kill rivals. This baseless logic is meant to illustrate how simple Candide truly is.
Chapter 10 - In What Distress Candide, Cunegund, and the Old Woman Arrive at Cadiz, and Of Their Embarkation
What does the highlighted passage reveal about Candide's character?
The theme of religion is developed in this chapter through Voltaire's characters of the Franciscan, the Benedictine friar, and the Jesuits of Paraguay (all orders of Catholicism). Each of the characters embodies an immoral quality: the Franciscan steals from the trio, the Benedictine cheats them out of their horse, and Jesuits use the "Indian tribes" to revolt against the royalty of Spain and Portugal. What do you think Voltaire is trying to convey about Catholics or religious people overall through these characters?
Chapter 11 - The History of the Old Woman
Though Voltaire's works are often critical of slavery and religious intolerance, his portrayal of characters lead some critics to deem Voltaire as an anti-semitic. Identify two examples within the text that support this conclusion. Do you think that Voltaire's portrayal of some characters illustrates his bias or are purposefully written to prove his point? Use textual evidence to support your conclusions.
The italian phrase the man mutters is "Oh what a misfortune to be without (a male appendage)". The horrific story of the old woman's life and suffering illustrates the themes of evil and optimism. With the existence of such ills and evils in the world, can one be optimistic about the fate of the world? Can one believe that mankind will make the proper choices in order to survive?
Chapter 12 - The Adventures of the Old Woman Continued
Though the old woman suffers greatly throughout her life, what point could you make to argue against the implication that optimism is a foolish notion?
What is the tone of the highlighted passage?
Chapter 13 - How Candide Was Obliged to Leave the Fair Cunegund and the Old Woman
Note that Candide is traveling around the world and what is witnesses is the same everywhere. He began his journey in Germany living under the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh and is now in Buenos Aires the capital or Argentina in South America waiting to see Don Fernando d'Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza. What is Voltaire trying to convey about the characters through their names?
Throughout Candide, Cunegund, and the old woman's journey, what purpose does the old woman serve?
Chapter 14 - The Reception Candide and Cacambo Met with among the Jesuits in Paraguay
Cacambo is similar to the old woman. They are both resilient and perceive the world around them clearly; they are not blinded by optimism or pessimism. They are frank and sincere.
When Candide is asked where he is from, he replies, "From the dirty province of Westphalia." This is a stark contrast to the description provided in the earlier chapters of the text. What does this imply about Candide's character?
Chapter 15 - How Candide Killed the Brother of His Dear Cunegund
Jesuits are an order of the Catholic Church. The core beliefs of the Jesuits (aside from the vows of poverty, obedience, and chastity) is to educate the world. The Jesuits were responsible for spreading the Catholic faith into the "New World" and established a mission not long after landing in Maine in 1611. Voltaire utilizes the Jesuits to illustrate his theme of religion: he is critical about the hypocrisy he believes is at the core of the Catholic church. Voltaire presents the Jesuits as missionaries with the purpose of converting native people to Catholicism but also as conquerors who enjoy the spoils of the new world they are adapting to. Click on the video below to learn ten interesting facts about the Jesuits and their historical influence. (This annotation contains a video)
Throughout the text, Voltaire incorporates many instances of death and murder. This reiteration of imagery is known as a motif. This motif of death and violence helps to develop the themes of religion, evil, and optimism. For an explicit definition of motif, please click on the link below. (This annotation contains a video)
Chapter 16 - What Happened to Our Two Travelers with Two Girls, Two Monkeys, and the Savages, Called Oreillons
Read the highlighted passage. What is ironic about Candide's reaction to the Baron's death?
There are many layers to this text. Because Candide is traversing the world, he is interacting with many different people and experiencing various cultures. Voltaire does this purposefully to be critical of church's influence around the world, to illustrate the evil that permeates all societies, and to contrast the primitive and perceived as less tainted and simpler societies with the more advanced,complex, and corrupted established societies of Europe.
When the men believe Candide is a Jesuit, they become angry and wish to kill him and then cannibalize him. But once they realize he has killed a Jesuit, he is accepted and even celebrated. What is Voltaire implying about the theme of religion through this anecdote? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Chapter 17 - What Happened to Our Two Candide and His Valet Arrive in the Country of El Dorado-What They Saw There
The city of El Dorado is a legend that has it origins in South America. It is rumored that the people of El Dorado live in a city of gold. Some believe this legend began when the Spanish came to South American and began conquering tribes and discovered the native peoples had gold. The lost city of gold inspired many people: Sir Walter Raleigh lead two expeditions in search of the famed city, Poe wrote a poem titled "El Dorado," and Disney made an animated film with a score by Elton John. Click on the link below to view a clip from the opening scenes of the animated film. (This annotation contains a video)
Based on Candide's observation that El Dorado is "preferable to Westphalia" what can you deduce about El Dorado?
El Dorado is a stark contrast to the other lands Candide has visited. The people are friendly, they are genuinely concerned about Candide and Cacambo's welfare, and there is no trace of violence or warfare, let alone unhappiness. Why do you think Voltaire includes this fictitious place in the text? What does the juxtaposition of this place of legend versus factual places and events imply?
Chapter 18 - What They Saw in the Country of El Dorado
How are the inhabitants of El Dorado able to maintain a peaceable lifestyle?
The city of El Dorado is unusual because the people are not ruled by their desire to amass wealth and riches because of the abundance of wealth and riches that surround them. Instead, the people are grateful and gracious.
When Candide informs the King of El Dorado that he wishes to leave, the King warns him, "You are about to do a rash and silly action." Candide's exit from El Dorado can be considered an allusion to which event?
It is important to note that advancements in science and engineering are characteristics of El Dorado. What do you think Voltaire is implying about the connection between technological advancements and societal happiness (or a utopian state)?
Chapter 19 - What Happened to Them at Surinam, and How Candide Became Acquainted with Martin
Candide's conversation with the slave left on the road to die, is an example of which literary device?
As a result of witnessing the unwarranted violence and cruel acts against the slave, Candide renounces his belief in optimism. Does that mean he is a pessimist now? Or a realist? What is the difference between the two terms?
While in search of Miss Cunegund, Candide is swindled out of his money by a merchant. Which vice is Voltaire satirizing through this exchange?
A Socinian is a person who does not believe in the divinity of Christ or the holy Trinity (father-son-holy spirit). These are the central elements to Catholicism, so denial of their existence would be equivalent to heresy. However, Socinian writers influenced French philosophers because of their logical approach to religion. Voltaire includes this element of Martin's character in order to be critical of organized religion.
Chapter 20 - What Befell Candide and Martin on Their Passage
Based on Martin's response to Candide's assertion that "the Devil must be in [Martin]," what can you infer is a central belief of a Manichaean?
The death of the Dutch skipper and the reunion with his ship restores Candide's optimism and faith that he will find happiness with Miss Cunegund.
Chapter 21 - Candide and Martin, While Thus Reasoning with Each Other, DrawNear to the Coast of France
Which term best describes Martin's tone as he speaks about the world and people he encounters?
Chapter 22 - What Happened to Candide and Martin in France
As you read about Candide's experiences in France, it is important that you remember that Voltaire was exiled from France and disillusioned with the french absolute monarchy. Voltaire's criticism of french society and values is evident in his description of Candide's experiences.
One of the men Candide encounters is an "abbe." This term is a term of respect for a clergymen. Based on your knowledge of Voltaire's philosophies, what theme do you think he develops through this character?
The term eunuch refers to a man or a boy who is castrated. This often occurred to young men who were training to be opera singers to remain tenors. In other cultures, a boy may be castrated so he may fulfill other social duties such as a guard to a harem. Lastly, a eunuch may refer to a man who is not castrated but is unable to procreate or perform sexually.
The abbe arranges for Candide to have a seat at the table and gamble. Candide is obviously not a good gambler because he loses a great sum of money. What can you infer about the abbe and his involvement in the card game?
The people Candide meets in Paris are judgmental and untrustworthy. What do you think Voltaire is trying to convey by placing the innocent and naive Candide among them?
Why did the Marchioness seduce Candide?
Are you suspect of this letter? How would Cunegund know Candide was in Paris? What could be another reason for Candide receiving this correspondence?
What did the abbe do to Candide? What does this illustrate about the theme of religion? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
Chapter 23 - Candide and Martin Touch upon the English Coast-What They See There
In this chapter Candide takes a detour to Italy by way of England. (This does not make much travel sense). It is important to understand the historical significance behind the inclusion of this stopover. Though the Seven Year War began in 1754, it was a result of the escalating conflict between England, France and Spain. Martin refers to this conflict when he mentions the nations at war "about a few acres of barren land in the neighborhood of Canada."Click on the link below for more information about the war. (This annotation contains a link)
Chapter 24 - Of Pacquette and Friar Giroflee
Based on Candide's vacillating beliefs between optimism and realism due to his experiencers throughout the journey, which term best describes his character?
Paquette's ordeal is similar to the other women in the text. Voltaire presents the women in his text as victims of their sex and culture. The women in the text are objectified and discarded when no longer viable objects of desire. Voltaire also uses Pacquette's story to be critical of the Catholic church by have a "Franciscan" "seduce" Pacquette and begin her horrible ordeal.
How does Brother Giroflee differ from the other clergy characters Voltaire presents in the text?
Chapter 25 - Candide and Martin Pay a Visit to Seignor Pococurante, a Noble Venetian
The name Pocourante literally translates to caring little. This accurately describes his character. Though he has everything anyone could want, he is bored and dissatisfied with his life.
Pococurante's opinion of cherished works by artists, musicians, and writers is vastly different than that of popular opinion. Which term best describes his way of thinking?
Do you agree with the highlighted statement? Why or why not?
How does Pococurante's criticism of Italy reflect Voltaire's own perspective? Use textual evidence to support your answer.
Chapter 26 - Candide and Martin sup with six sharpers - who they were
In this chapter, we will learn what has become of Cacambo and Cunegund. Candide also sits with "six strangers" who will be six former kings. As you read, consider how this chapter develops the theme of fate.
Which term is a synonym for providence?
Chapter 27 - Candide's Voyage to Constantinople
Candide's questions include whether Miss Cunegund is still a "paragon of beauty"? As if her status as a slave is not enough, Miss Cunegund is also "horribly ugly." Once again, this is consistent with the objectification of women throughout the text.
Throughout the text, characters are killed and then are resurrected. Once resurrected, the characters and their ordeals help to develop various themes. This is an example of which literary device?
Candide's willingness to free Pangloss and the Baron from slavery and to continue on his journey to save (the now ugly) Cunegund from slavery illustrates his belief and devotion to optimism.
Chapter 28 - What Befell Candide, Cunegund, Pangloss, Martin, etc.
What is your response to the highlighted question? Based on the text, do you believe in optimism, pessimism, or realism? Use textual evidence to support your response.
Chapter 29 - What Manner Candide Found Miss Cunegund and the Old Woman Again
Unlike similar encounters previously in the text, Candide is not remorseful for losing his temper and speaking his mind to the Baron. What does this imply about Candide's character?
Chapter 30 - Conclusion
Contrast Candide's actual life with the life Candide was expected to live. What does this illustrate about fate? Use the text to support your answer.
The highlighted passage expresses the idea of meliorism. This is the belief that the world can be better through human effort. The Turk contends that by cultivating the land, he is able to keep idleness, vice, and want at bay. This is similar to the Puritan perspective that idle hands are the Devil's workshop.
When Candide begins to work the land, what happens to the situation of the other members of his household? What is Voltaire trying to convey through this ending?