Candide by Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

by Voltaire (1694 - 1778)

Type of Work:

Satirical novel


Europe and frontier South America; mid-eighteenth

Principal Characters

Candide, a naive young man

Pangloss,Candide\'s tutor and philosopher

Cunegonde, the beautiful daughter of a

Cacambo, Candide\'s servant and companion

Martin, a later traveling companion

Story Overveiw

Candide, the illegitimate son of a Baron\'s
sister, was sent to live with the Baron at his beautiful castle in Westphalia.

The Baroness weighed about three hundred
and fifty pounds, as therefore greatly respected, and did the honors of
the house it had digniy which rendered her still more respect. Her daughter

Cunegonde, aged seventeen, was rosy-checked, fresh, plump and tempting.

The Baron\'s son appeared in every respect worthy of his father. The tutor

Pangloss was the oracle of the house, and little Candide followed his lessons
with all the candor of his age and character.

Pangloss, "the greatest philosopher of
the province and therefore of the whole world," taught Candide that he
lived in "the best of all possible worlds." His theory was that "since
everything is made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end."

Observe that noses were made to wear spectacles;
and so we have spectacles. Legs were visibly instituted to be breeched,
and we have breeches ...

Over the years at the castle, Candide adopted
dear Pangloss\' optimism. However, his bliss was not to be. Candide loon
became infatuated with the beauty of Cunegonde, and one day had an intimate
encounter with her in the castle. The noble Baron witnessed this scene
and drove his daughter\'s young suitor out of the house.

With no provisions and no money, Candide
quickly found himself recruited into the Bulgar army. But, tiring of army
routine, and following Pangloss\' theory that a] I men were free, he simply
walked away. He was caught, however, and forced to run the gauntlet. Collapsing
after the second round, Candide begged to be killed, but was instead pardoned
by the passing Bulgar king.

Later, after surviving a brutal battle
and witnessing the repulsive treatment of innocent villagers, Candide once
again walked away in disgust. As he wandered through the countryside, he
was denied a piece of bread by a preacher who had just finished a sermon
on charity. Near starvation, he was finally taken in by a kind Anabaptist.

The following day Candide met up with a
wretched beggar who turned out to be his old tutor, Pangloss. Pangloss
had shocking news for Candide: his beloved Cunegonde had been stolen away,
raped, and disemboweled by Bulgar soldiers. The disheartened young man
wept uncontrollably.

Months passed. Pangloss and Candide were
appointed accountants to the generous Anabaptist and journeyed with him
toward Lisbon. Nearing the city, their ship was caught in a storm and sank.

All aboard were drowned except Candide, Pangloss, and a villainous sailor.

Just as the three reached shore, a tremendous earthquake and volcanic eruption
destroyed the city. The sailor went to work looting and plundering through
the town\'s wreckage. Even though Candide and Pangloss tried to help the
city\'s survivors, it was they who were arrested by a supersitious mob and
slated to be human sacrifices to quell any further earthquakes.

The appointed day arrived. Pangloss was
taken out to be hanged. But Candide, escaping a similar fate, was merely
preached at, flogged - then absolved of his sin and blessed!

An old woman treated Candide\'s wounds and
took him to a lonely house on the edge of town, where he was reunited with
his beautiful Cunegonde. Cunegonde told her overjoyed lover that, since
surviving the soldiers\' obviously nonfatal mistreatment, she had served
as a mistress to numerous men and currently worked for both a Jew and a

Grand Inquisitor. Just then the Jew entered the room to find his mistress
and Candide entwined on the couch. In self-defense, Candide killed him.

As the lovers considered their plight, the Grand Inquisitor also entered,
and Candide was forced to take his life as well. (The Jew\'s body was later
thrown on a dungheap, while the remains of the Inquisitor were given a
ceremonial burial at the local church.)

Candide, Cunegonde and the old woman fled
on horseback. At last they reached Cadiz, where Candide was once again
recruited into the army, this time as a captain. He was sent to Paraguay
to purge the Jesuits. During the voyage, Candide frankly admitted that,
contrary to Pangloss\' idealistic theory, "regrettable things happen in
this world of ours."

The ship reached Buenos Aires, and the
governor sent the trusting Candide out to review the troops. Then, in Candide\'s
absence, he proposed marriage to lovely Cunegonde.

As Caiidide was reviewing the troops, the
old woman arrived to warn him that a Spanish ship had entered the harbor;