Candide Charcacters and Quotes
In the following paragraphs I will be discussing the characters and what they represented in the novel, a few themes presented in the book, and important quotations from Candide.
Five characters are of particular interest. Candide was the main character that spent most of his time at the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh kingdom; Pangloss was the professor in the Baron kingdom and he believed the Baron’s kingdom was the most beautiful of them all; Cunegonde was the woman that Candide was in love with and wanted to marry someday; the unnamed old woman took Candide off the streets and cared for him until he got stronger; and Martin was one of Candide’s best friends in the book that he met while sailing. Candide was suspected to have been the son of Baron’s sister. He started out being an optimistic young man but after experiencing what the world is like he soon turned into a slightly pessimistic person because of the influences of outside factors and other characters.
At the end, Candide said he wanted to go and tend the garden because productive work is the only way to function in this violent and corrupt world. There is no such thing as a perfect world. Pangloss was the oracle of the Baron. He believed in and exaggerated many philosophical ideas, such as there is no effect without a cause. No matter what Pangloss experienced and heard, he remained faithful to his beliefs. Cunegonde was the sister of the Baron and was neither intelligent nor complex. The unnamed old woman cared for Cunegonde and Candide in Lisbon. She was cynical about human nature but did not give in to self-pity. The unnamed old woman was wise, loyal, and practical. The final character I will mention is Martin, who was more knowledgeable than Pangloss and Candide, had a more reasonable take on the world, and was a pessimist about philosophical ideas. Martin expected nothing but the worst and had a hard time seeing the world as what it could be. I do feel like Martin is Voltaire’s way of voicing his opinion through Candide. Several other characters appear in supporting roles. Cacambo was Candide’s valet when Candide was traveling to South America.
Cacambo was highly intelligent and morally honest; Pococurante was an amazing collector of art and literature works but he was bored with life even though he seemed to have everything; Brother Giraflee parents forced him to become a monk so he could enlarge his brother’s wealth and he pays for Paquette’s services; and Paquette was the wench who waited on the noble Baroness.
There were several themes in Candide revolved around optimism, philosophical speculations, religion, money, and power but I will only mention two that had the greatest impact on me. The first theme was the outrageous amount of optimism that was portrayed by Pangloss and Candide in the beginning. Pangloss mentioned multiple times that God is perfect therefore the world He created also must be perfect, leading Pangloss to claim, “syphilis needed to be transmitted from the Americas to Europe so that Europeans could enjoy New World delicacies such as chocolate,” an absurd statement that reflects Voltaire’s view of the absurdity of enlightened thinking of the period. In the beginning of the novel Candide believed in Pangloss’s optimistic ideas about the world and its Creator but as Candide started the experience what the world was like, he soon changed his way of seeing it. The second theme that stuck out was the dishonesty of religion as portrayed by other characters: the unnamed old woman was the daughter of the Pope, the Catholic Inquisitor who has a mistress, the Franciscan friar who was a jewel thief, and some societies that carried out inhumane campaigns of religious oppression against those who did not agree with their beliefs. The final theme that stood out to me was that money could buy a person’s way out of any troubled situation but never seemed to make people fully happy.
Eldorado was where Candide and Cacambo acquired the treasures of the world. Even though there were so many treasures there, Candide soon wanted to leave because he was not happy with just the money; he wanted Cunegonde to be his wife. Candide was unhappier as a wealthy man, seeing his wealth disappear into the hands of undeserving people which tested his optimism. During Candide’s travels as a wealthy man, he made many friends but rarely were they true friends. Two examples that demonstrate this idea from Candide on Project Guttenberg was “Pococurante’s money drove him to such world-weary boredom that he could not appreciate great art” and “cash gift to Brother Giroflee and Paquette drives them quickly to the last stages of misery”. Money creates at least as many problems as it solves in life.
Throughout Candide there were a few quotations that I found to be important. In this paragraph I am going to break them down a little more. The first quotation is from Pangloss in chapter one of Candide, “It is demonstrable that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is necessarily for the best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bear spectacles—thus we have spectacles. Legs are visibly designed for stockings and we have stockings. Stones were made to be hewn, and to construct castles—therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs were made to be eaten—therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequently, they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they should have said all is for the best”. Voltaire started out by putting this quotation under attack by all the characters experienced throughout the rest of the novel. This quotation was meant to resemble the flaws Voltaire saw in the Enlightenment philosophers’ way of thinking. The second quotation is from chapter twelve, “hundred times I wanted to kill myself, but always I loved life more”. In the time of Voltaire, the Catholic church preached that God forbade suicide and those who did commit suicide would spend eternity in hell.
Voltaire’s Thoughts about the Enlightenment
This novel did a phenomenal job describing what Voltaire thought about the Enlightenment period during the 17th and 18th century. In the previous paragraphs I discussed more information about the characters, three important themes mentioned throughout the novel, and three of my favorite quotations with a brief description of each in the novel Candide.