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Candide
By Voltaire

4 main characters (and one sentence description of each)

Candide - He is the main character who experiences many adventures through the book being captured, tortured, and killing several men during his journeys around the world.

The Old Woman - She is the woman who took care of Cunegonde, and it is found out that she was once a wealthy woman who suffered a fate similar to Candide and Cunegonde becoming a slave.

Miss Cunegonde - Candide loves her through the book, however, they are separated several times, she is raped and tortured by several men, and she looses nearly all her possessions, but by the end of the book, she marries Candide.

Pangloss - He was Candide’s philosophical tutor who helped Candide after he was kicked out of the palace, but he was hanged and assumed dead, only to be found nearly dead later in the book.

2 minor characters (and one sentence descriptions of each)

Cacambo - Candide meets him after going to South America, and Cacambo joins Candide’s party to stay with him throughout his journeys in South America.

Martin - He is the scholar who traveled with Candide through much of his journey having been met at Suriname and ending up on Candide’s farm in Turkey.

main setting

Westphalia, Germany - The story begins here with Candide living with the wealthy Cunegonde, but he is kicked out after trying to kiss her.

One paragraph plot outline

 Candide lived in Westphalia with Cunegonde and was taught by the optimist philosopher Pangloss.  However, after he was kicked out of the house after trying to kiss Cunegonde.  Candide who is helped by two strangers, left the country and joined the Bulgar Army.  After several troubles, he deserts the army and flees to Holland where he met Jacques, an honest merchant.  Candide found his old teacher Pangloss in the town.  Two months later, the three of them, Pangloss, Candide, and Jacques, left and arrived at Lisbon just in time to experience an enormous earthquake.  They survived the earthquake.  At a dinner after the earthquake, Pangloss was questioned about his philosophical beliefs.  However, he and Candide were arrested by the inquisition because of his beliefs.  Candide, who was set free after a beating, watches his teacher hanged.  As he leaves, Candide is stopped by an old woman who took him to a house in the woods and dressed him wounds.  Later, she brings him to Cunegonde, whom he feared dead.  While at the house, Cunegonde’s two masters enter the house and are killed by Candide.  He fled arrest with Cunegonde and the old woman.  When they arrive at Propontis, he ransoms Cunegonde and the old woman.  Later, he meets Cunegonde’s brother and tell him of his plans to get married to Cunegonde.  Her brother objected but he married Cunegonde anyway.  Candide bought a farm with the last of his diamonds.

Two symbols and references

The garden - The garden at the end of the book symbolizes intellectual thought and discussion where to ‘cultivate the garden’ would be to enrich the mind.

The red sheep - The red sheep is a symbol of uniqueness since all were stolen but a few which remained in a world of white sheep.

Two or three sentences on style

Voltaire style consist of much exaggeration and irony bringing out the humor in the worst of situations by using ironic adjectives to unlikely nouns.  He uses both long, complex sentences and short simple ones.  His dialogue are representative of his characters as is seen by the long winded arguments of Pangloss and the descriptively exaggerated stories of the old woman.

One or two sentences on dominant philosophy

Voltaire deals greatly with Pangloss’ optimistic philosophy which contrasted greatly with the events that were occurring in Candide’s life.  Often, many bad things occurred to Candide, but he continued to believe that all things were for a good end which gives the idea that a situation is only as bad as one believes it to be.  Either that or bad things happen to good (but sometimes blind) people.

Four short quotations typical of the work

“We are going to another universe; no doubt it is in that one that all is well.  For it must be admitted that one might groan a little over what happens in the physical and the moral domain in ours.”  Candide says this to Cunegonde after they are reunited by the old women.  This shows that although Candide had endured many horrible things, he still trusts the optimistic philosophy of Pangloss.

“for private misfortunes are for the public good.”  This is a clear statement of Pangloss’ optimistic belief that every misfortune experienced by an individual person is for the general good.  Ironically, Candide (and Pangloss) held this belief although they went through so much sufferings.

“Pangloss most cruelly deceived me when he said everything in the world is for the best.”  Candide says this of his new distrust of Pangloss’ teachings.  He suffered too much by the end of the book to believe that everything worked for good.

“Well, my dear Pangloss, ... when you were hanged, racked with blows, and rowing in the galleys, did you still think that all was for the best?”  Candide asks this of Pangloss.  This shows that Candide had grown out of this belief and thinks that Pangloss has also.  However, Pangloss explains that even after all this, he still believes that every works for the best.