Candide is the illegitimate nephew of a German baron. He grows up in the baron's castle under the tutelage of the scholar Pangloss, who teaches him that this world is "the best of all possible worlds." Candide falls in love with the baron's young daughter, Cun " ego nde. The baron catches the two kissing and expels Candide from his home. On his own for the first time, Candide is soon conscripted into the army of the Bulgars. He wanders away from camp for a brief walk, and is brutally flogged as a deserter. After witnessing a horrific battle, he manages to escape and travels to Holland.
In Holland, a kindly Anabaptist named Jacques takes Candide in. Candide runs into a deformed beggar and discovers that it is Pangloss. Pangloss explains that he has contracted syphilis and that Cun " ego nde and her family have all been brutally murdered by the Bulgar army. Nonetheless, he maintains his optimistic outlook. Jacques takes Pangloss in as well.
The three travel to Lisbon together, but before they arrive their ship runs into a storm and Jacques is drowned. Candide and Pangloss arrive in Lisbon to find it destroyed by an earthquake and under the control of the Inquisition. Pangloss is soon hanged as a heretic, and Candide is flogged for listening with approval to Pangloss's philosophy. After his beating, an old woman dresses Candide's wounds and then, to his astonishment, takes him to Cun " ego nde.
Cun " ego nde explains that though the Bulgars killed the rest of her family, she was merely raped and then captured by a captain, who sold her to a Jew named Don Isaachar. At present, she is a sex slave jointly owned by Don Isaachar and the Grand Inquisitor of Lisbon. Each of Cun " ego nde's two owners arrive in turn as she and Candide are talking, and Candide kills them both. Terrified, Candide, the old woman, and Cun " ego nde flee and board a ship bound for South America.
During their journey, the old woman relates her own story. She was born the Pope's daughter but has suffered a litany of misfortunes that include rape, enslavement, and cannibalism. Candide and Cun " ego nde plan to marry, but as soon as they arrive in Buenos Aires, the governor, Don Fernando, proposes to Cun " ego nde. Thinking of her own financial welfare, she accepts. Authorities looking for the murderer of the Grand Inquisitor arrive from Portugal in pursuit of Candide. Along with a newly acquired valet named Cacambo, Candide flees to territory controlled by Jesuits who are revolting against the Spanish government.
After demanding an audience with a Jesuit commander, Candide discovers that the commander is Cun " ego nde's brother, the baron, who also managed to escape from the Bulgars. Candide announces that he plans to marry Cun " ego nde, but the baron insists that his sister will never marry a commoner. Enraged, Candide runs the baron through with his sword. He and Cacambo escape into the wilderness, where they narrowly avoid being eaten by a native tribe called the Biglugs.
After traveling for days, Candide and Cacambo find themselves in the land of Eldorado, where gold and jewels litter the streets. This utopian country has advanced scientific knowledge, no religious conflict, no court system, and places no value on its plentiful gold and jewels. But Candide longs to return to Cun " ego nde, and after a month in Eldorado he and Cacambo depart with countless invaluable jewels loaded onto swift pack sheep. When they reach the territory of Surinam, Candide sends Cacambo to Buenos Aires with instructions to use part of the fortune to purchase Cun " ego nde from Don Fernando and then to meet him in Venice. An unscrupulous merchant named Vanderdendur steals much of Candide's fortune, dampening his optimism somewhat. Frustrated, Candide sails off to France with a specially chosen companion, an unrepentantly pessimistic scholar named Martin.
On the way there, he recovers part of his fortune when a Spanish captain sinks Vanderdendur's ship. Candide takes this as proof that there is justice in the world, but Martin staunchly disagrees. In Paris, Candide and Martin mingle with the social elite. Candide's fortune attracts a number of hangers-on, several of whom succeed in filching jewels from him. Candide and Martin proceed to Venice, where, to Candide's dismay, Cun " ego nde and Cacambo are nowhere to be found. However, they do encounter other colorful individuals there, including Paquette, the chambermaid-turned-prostitute who gave Pangloss syphilis, and Count Pococurante, a wealthy Venetian who is hopelessly bored with the cultural treasures that surround him.
Eventually, Cacambo, now a slave of a deposed Turkish monarch, surfaces. He explains that Cun " ego nde is in Constantinople, having herself been enslaved along with the old woman. Martin, Cacambo, and Candide depart for Turkey, where Candide purchases Cacambo's freedom. Candide discovers Pangloss and the baron in a Turkish chain gang. Both have actually survived their apparent deaths and, after suffering various misfortunes, arrived in Turkey. Despite everything, Pangloss remains an optimist.
An overjoyed Candide purchases their freedom, and he and his growing retinue go on to find Cun " ego nde and the old woman. Cun " ego nde has grown ugly since Candide last saw her, but he purchases her freedom anyway. He also buys the old woman's freedom and purchases a farm outside of Constantinople. He keeps his longstanding promise to marry Cun " ego nde, but only after being forced to send the baron, who still cannot abide his sister marrying a commoner, back to the chain gang. Candide, Cun " ego nde, Cacambo, Pangloss, and the old woman settle into a comfortable life on the farm but soon find themselves growing bored and quarrelsome.
Finally, Candide encounters a farmer who lives a simple life, works hard, and avoids vice and leisure. Inspired, Candide and his friends take to cultivating a garden in earnest. All their time and energy goes into the work, and none is left over for philosophical speculation. At last everyone is fulfilled and happy. Analysis of Major CharactersCandideCandide is the protagonist of the novel, but he is bland, na " ive, and highly susceptible to the influence of stronger characters.
Like the other characters, Candide is less a realistic individual than the embodiment of a particular idea or folly that Voltaire wishes to illustrate. Candide's name is derived from the Latin word candid us, which means "white" and connotes fair-mindedness or a lack of corruption. As that name suggests, Candide begins the novel as a perfect innocent-wide-eyed in his worship of his tutor Pangloss's wrongheaded optimistic philosophy, and completely unfamiliar with the ways of the world. Over the course of the novel, Candide acquires wealth and even some knowledge about the world, and begins to question his faith in optimism. Yet that faith remains and is frequently reactivated by any event that pleases him, from the kindness of the stranger Jacques to the death of Vanderdendur, the merchant who cheats him. At the end of the novel, Candide rejects Pangloss's philosophizing in favor of the practical labor that is introduced to him by the old farmer.
While this shift in philosophy appears on the surface to be real progress, Candide's personality remains essentially unchanged. He is still incapable of forming his own opinions, and has simply exchanged blind faith in Pangloss's opinions for blind faith in the opinions of the farmer. Despite his simplicity, Candide is an effective, sympathetic hero. He is fundamentally honest and good-hearted.
He readily gives money to strangers like Brother Girofl " ee and the poorest deposed king, and he honors his commitment to marry Cun " ego nde even after his love for her has faded. His na"i vet'e, though incredible, makes Candide sympathetic to readers; the world of the novel is exaggerated and fantastic, and we are likely to find the events described as unsettling and confusing as he does. Pangloss As Candide's mentor and a philosopher, Pangloss is responsible for the novel's most famous idea: that all is for the best in this "best of all possible worlds." This optimistic sentiment is the main target of Voltaire's satire. Pangloss's philosophy parodies the ideas of the Enlightenment thinker G.
W. von Leibniz. Leibniz maintains that an all-good, all-powerful God had created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect. When human beings perceive something as wrong or evil, it is merely because they do not understand the ultimate good that the so-called evil is meant to serve. Like Candide, Pangloss is not a believable character; rather, he is a distorted, exaggerated representation of a certain kind of philosopher whose personality is inseparable from his philosophy. Voltaire illustrates two major problems inherent in Pangloss's philosophy.
First, his philosophy flies in the face of overwhelming evidence from the real world. Pangloss is ravaged by syphilis, nearly hanged, nearly dissected, and imprisoned, yet he continues to espouse optimism. He maintains his optimistic philosophy even at the end of the novel, when he himself admits that he has trouble believing in it. Voltaire advocates the induction of ideas from concrete evidence; Pangloss, in contrast, willfully ignores any evidence that contradicts his initial opinion. He also produces illogical arguments to support his preconceived notions, justifying the consumption of pork by saying that "since pigs were made to be eaten, we eat pork all year round." Second, Pangloss's philosophy encourages a passive and complacent attitude toward all that is wrong in the world. If this world is the best one possible, than there is no reason to make any effort to change things perceived as evil or wrong.
Therefore, when Pangloss's benefactor Jacques is drowning in the bay of Lisbon, Pangloss prevents Candide from trying to rescue him by "proving that the bay of Lisbon had been formed expressly for [Jacques] to drown in." The consequence of this mode of thinking is that, "while [Pangloss] was proving the point a priori, the vessel opened up and everyone perished." Martin Martin acts as both foil and counterpart to Pangloss. He is more believable than the other major characters in the novel, not because he is more complex, but because he is more intelligent and more likely to draw conclusions with which we can identify. A scholar who has suffered personal and financial setbacks, Martin is as extreme a pessimist as Pangloss is an optimist. He even takes issue with Candide's statement that "there is some good" in the world.
Direct experience plays a greater part in Martin's estimation of the world than it does in Pangloss's. As a result, he is able to provide insight into events far beyond Pangloss's ability to do so. Martin demonstrates such insight when he predicts that Girofl " ee and Paquette will not be happier for having money and when he analyzes the psychology of Count Pococurante. Though Martin's philosophy is more effective and honest than Pangloss's, it also has some of the same flaws. While Martin is usually good at predicting how people will behave, he fails noticeably with Cacambo. Martin's absolute pessimism dictates that a valet trusted with millions in gold will certainly betray his master, yet Cacambo's honesty defies that pessimism.
Voltaire prefers flexible philosophies based on real evidence to dogmatic assertions based on abstractions. Absolute optimism and absolute pessimism both fall into the latter category, because they will admit no exceptions. Like Pangloss, Martin abides by ideas that discourage any active efforts to change the world for the better. If, as Martin asserts, "man [is] bound to live either in convulsions of misery or in the lethargy of boredom," why should anyone try to rescue anyone else from "convulsions of misery"? Cacambo Cacambo sheds a subtle and interesting light on the philosophical themes of the novel. Unlike any other character in the novel, he inspires perfect confidence, both in his intelligence and his moral uprightness.
He knows both native American and European languages, and deals capably with both the Jesuits and the Biglugs. He suffers fewer gross misfortunes than any other character, less out of luck than because of his sharp wits, and he lives up to Candide's trust when Candide sends him to fetch Cun " ego nde. Any reader tempted to conclude that Voltaire has no faith in human nature must reconsider when faced with the example of Cacambo. Despite the optimism Cacambo inspires, however, he is no optimist himself. His wide experience of the world has led Cacambo to conclude that "the law of nature teaches us to kill our neighbor.".