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All quotations in this section are from Robert M. Adams's translation of Candide, found in Literature of Western Culture Since the Renaissance (ed. Maynard Mack), vol. 2 of Norton Anthology of World Masterpieces, 4th ed. (New York: W. W. Norton, 1980).


Candide opens in Westphalia, a principality of Germany, at the castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. In this first chapter, you meet Candide and many of the other characters who will join him in his adventures. Some major themes of the novel are presented and the lively, satiric tone of the narration is set. The baron's name itself is meant to deride the overblown names of many German petty nobles.

Voltaire first introduces the readers to the inhabitants of Castle Thunder-ten-tronckh: Candide; the baron and baroness; their son; their beautiful daughter, Cunegonde; and the philosophy tutor Pangloss. Candide is an honest, simple soul rumored to be the illegitimate son of the baron's sister. His character is briefly sketched because his name sums him up. For the French word "candide" implies not only honesty but also innocence, naivete, and purity. Keep this in mind as you follow Candide through his adventures. To what extent does he live up to his name? What evidence do you have that he is perhaps not as naive as you might expect? Some readers have seen Candide as a novel of apprenticeship- that is, a novel that traces a character's development from adolescence to maturity. In order to understand Candide's development, you must understand where he began.

The members of the baron's family are described briefly and humorously: the baron (a big fish in a little pond); his fat, dignified wife; his beautiful daughter and worthy son. Voltaire's humor is most pointed in his description of the baron, a great lord, not because of any personal merit but because his castle has a door and windows. As is often the case in Candide, Voltaire's humor here has more than one target. He is poking fun not only at a man with an inflated sense of his own importance but at a society that could, in fact, consider such a person to be important.

After the family members are introduced, the philosophy teacher, Pangloss, is presented. But Voltaire, rather than describing the man or his character, chooses to portray Pangloss to the reader through his philosophy. Voltaire tells you what Pangloss does: He teaches philosophy- specifically, metaphysico- theologico-cosmoloonigology- of which the hallmark is his belief that this is the "best of all possible worlds." Pangloss is the first character to speak, and when he does speak, he begins the endless process of discussion and philosophizing that is so characteristic of the novel.

NOTE: "Metaphysico-theologico-cosmoloonigology" is a hodge-podge word referring to three real fields of philosophy: metaphysics, the study of "being" or existence; theology, the study of God; cosmology, the study of the universe. Voltaire adds an ironic twist with "-loonigo- " and its association with stupidity or craziness. Voltaire once again is making fun here, alluding to Leibniz's philosophical system, which one critic had described as "physico-geometrico-theological doctrine." Voltaire substituted "cosmology"- in modified form- in obvious mockery of Leibniz's disciple, Wolff, who employed that term to describe the general laws of the universe.

Pangloss is at the heart of the central issue of Candide, the attack on philosophical optimism, a widespread belief in the 18th century. The emptiness of Pangloss's reasoning is apparent from the outset. The very name of his course of study and the proofs he offers that this is the best of all possible worlds expose the shallowness of his reasoning.

After reading Candide, the reader tends to link philosophical optimism with the empty, tortured justification of everything good and ill personified by Pangloss. Voltaire's satire is so devastating that you may be unaware that philosophical optimism was a serious study by one of the world's great philosophers, Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz (1646-1716).

Leibniz was a mathematician and scientist as well as a philosopher. His studies of being and of logic, and his concept of a dynamic but harmonious universe, had a great influence on later thinkers. The work Voltaire particularly attacked was one of Leibniz's earlier and simpler works, Theodicy (1710), a defense of God. In it, Leibniz tries to justify the existence of evil in a world which a presumably good God created. These were difficult concepts to understand and they were inevitably simplified by his follower, Christian Wolff, and, especially, by an admirer, the English satirical poet Alexander Pope.

Leibniz's ideas became transformed into Pope's maxim "What is, is right." Voltaire saw that this viewpoint was, in reality, a pessimistic one, because it denied hope. If what is, is right, then there is no need for change; human misery and evil are merely links in an incomprehensible chain of ultimate good. But such reasoning is small consolation to the victims of slavery, warfare, and persecution. For Voltaire, who believed in change and social reform, it was an unacceptable explanation. Leibniz, as the originator of this philosophy, thus became the target of his satire.

Voltaire's opinion of Pangloss and his philosophy is obvious. As the chapter ends, Candide is booted out of the castle after the baron catches him kissing Cunegonde. The entire episode is peppered with the jargon of philosophical discussions. Cunegonde learns about sex by watching the "cause and effect" relationship between Pangloss and her mother's maid. She then hopes to be the "sufficient reason" for Candide. But what happens in this "best of all possible worlds"? One kiss- and then a kick in the backside for Candide and a slap in the face for Cunegonde, with Candide being finally thrown out into the cold. This satirical technique of using the terminology of philosophical optimism to describe a situation where everything is going wrong is frequent in Candide. As the story goes on, you will become more aware of the impossibility of holding such a belief in optimism, but the groundwork is well laid here.

As you read Candide, try to keep in mind the contrast between the philosophical ideals of what the characters say and the reality of what they do, or of what is happening around them. This contrast is one of the sources of humor in Candide and an effective means of highlighting reality and raising questions in the reader's mind.

Chapter 1 also begins to set the narrative rhythm. While you read, look for other examples of the pattern being set here: the bottom falling out of what appears to be a wonderful situation.

As the chapter ends, Candide is on his own, ready to begin his journey around the world. The story of Candide is, in a nutshell, the story of a fantastic journey. The novel is full of movement and change. Why does Voltaire place such importance on travel, adventure, and movement? See whether you can discover the reasons as the journey unfolds.


After spending the night in the fields, Candide goes into a nearby village. He meets two men in blue who offer to buy him dinner. At dinner, the men propose a toast to the king of the Bulgars. Candide drinks with them and is immediately carried off into the Bulgar army. (See following Note.)

Now a soldier, Candide is forced to learn army drill. The method of instruction is simple. The soldier is beaten until he masters the drill. The better he performs the drill, the less he is beaten. Candide learns quickly.

Unfortunately, he has not learned everything about army life. One day he decides to go off on a walk. He is seized and brought up for court-martial. In the Bulgar army, being absent without leave was evidently a very serious offense. Candide is forced to choose between being beaten by the entire regiment ("running the gauntlet") 36 times or having 12 bullets in his head. He chooses the beating, and, at the point of death, is pardoned by the king. He recovers from his wounds just in time to go to war against the Abares.

In the second chapter, Voltaire presents a biting satire of army life. The practice of conscription, the brutality of army life, and the loss of personal freedom are presented in an exaggerated but not completely unrealistic manner. Men were frequently tricked into serving in the army, and physical punishment was common. The humor of the chapter lies in Candide's gullibility and in Voltaire's use of exaggeration to make fun of the military. Twelve bullets to the head are certainly more than enough to kill even a Bulgar.

This chapter displays Voltaire's attitude toward the brutality of army life. But the 18th-century reader saw more than a general satire. He also perceived a very specific comment on the Prussian army of Frederick the Great. The "men dressed in blue" were recognizable as the recruiters for the Prussian army, which was notorious for the harshness of its training. The idea of Frederick is also evoked- humorously by the overblown imaginary German-sounding names of Waldberghoff-trarbk-dikdorff and Thunder-ten-tronckh. Westphalia, an actual principality of Germany, was the site of battles between Frederick and the French.

Voltaire purposely chose an early eastern European tribal people, the Bulgars, to stand for Frederick and the Prussians. He wanted to play on the French word bougre, an indication of homosexuality. The word sounds similar to, and is actually derived from Bulgare. The Abares (Avars in English), who represent the French forces, were the Bulgars' rivals during the 6th century.

Even if you are unaware of the background of Frederick and his army, the satire in this chapter is clear. Voltaire's satire is always double-edged, closely tied to the events of his own time, but with a universal meaning.

Candide's actions seem to justify Voltaire's description of him in Chapter 1. His own honesty and simplicity seem to keep him from seeing dishonesty and duplicity in others. Candide easily believes in the generosity of the men in blue. He does not suspect their motives. And Pangloss's teachings reinforce his tendency to believe that all is for the best.

Candide's gullibility is not entirely incredible. Have you ever been flattered by someone only to find out that he wants something from you? Afterward, you say to yourself, "I should have seen it coming." But at the time, flattery is hard to resist.

Voltaire introduces a new, important theme in this chapter- the theme of free will, of man's ability to choose his own destiny. Candide considers himself a free man, so he takes a walk. He is court-martialed. He is "free" to choose whether he wishes to be shot or beaten. Candide says that he wishes to choose neither, but he is forced to choose, anyway. Where, then, is his free will?

The question of whether Voltaire believed in free will has puzzled many readers. The issue of free will and destiny comes up many times in the story. As you read, try to answer the following questions: Does Voltaire believe that man is the victim of destiny, predetermined to act in a certain way, or does he believe that man has the ability to choose his own destiny? Or is Voltaire's view that man has the freedom to choose, but that his choices are limited by circumstances?


The Bulgar army and the Abare army go to battle. Thousands of soldiers are killed. Candide hides until he can slip away from the battlefield. He passes through two villages, one Bulgar, one Abare. Both have been destroyed and are littered with dead and dying people. Finally, Candide is able to leave the war zone and makes his way to Holland.

The Bulgars and Abares of Chapter 2 and 3 are allegorical, representing, respectively, the Prussians and the French. The two were opponents in the Seven Years' War (1756-1763), part of which was fought in Westphalia.

The Seven Years' War was part of a power struggle among the major European countries for control of the American colonies and India and for dominance in Europe. Alliances changed during the conflict, which lasted, off and on, despite its name, for the rest of the 18th century. France and Great Britain were continually on opposing sides. The French and Indian War (1754-1763), which you studied in American history class, was a part of this power struggle.

During the Seven Years' War, Voltaire corresponded with both Frederick of Prussia and the French foreign minister, the Duc de Choiseul. There is evidence that Voltaire tried to use his influence to bring about a peaceful settlement.

Once again homeless and penniless, Candide begs for his bread. A street orator, who is just finishing a sermon on charity, turns Candide away because the young man fails to condemn the pope. A passerby, the Anabaptist Jacques, takes pity on Candide, brings him home, feeds him, and gives him a job. Candide's spirits revive, and he goes for a walk into town, where he meets a beggar, a grotesque and horrible figure.

In Chapter 3, two of the major themes of Candide are presented: the theme of evil, in the form of war, and the theme of religion. The chapter can be divided into two parts. The first, in Westphalia, treats the theme of war; the second, in Holland, treats the theme of religion.

The first part of Chapter 3 contains one of the most famous scenes in Candide. In two paragraphs, Voltaire exposes the cruelty and savagery of war in a devastating manner. Although Voltaire never uses the word "evil," how does he make you feel its presence?

The battle scene begins in an ironic mood. The two armies are splendid; they march to the accompaniment of music, but such a harmony "was never heard in hell." Linking the word "hell" with the idea of harmony provides the kind of contrast that lets you know vividly that war is hell. Harmony is usually considered a celestial attribute. A similar contrast closes the first paragraph where the battle is described as "heroic butchery."

The fighting is described in the jargon of philosophical optimism. Inevitably, you are forced to compare the awful reality of what is happening with the ideal view of it.

The battle continues with the two kings both claiming victory. But the tone of the narrative shifts away from satire when Candide enters the Abare village. The humor disappears and the description is harshly realistic. Voltaire describes the dead and dying of the village. The sense of war as evil is overwhelming.

The second part of the chapter takes place in Holland. It contains the first satire of religious hypocrisy and intolerance in Candide. These negative qualities are embodied by the hypocritical orator and his wife. Their behavior is contrasted with the Anabaptist Jacques. The orator and his wife, religious enthusiasts, preach charity, but Jacques practices it.

NOTE: Anabaptists were members of a Nonconformist Protestant sect that believed in baptism for adults, instead of the more usual Christian practice of infant baptism. They were also social reformers. Like many other persecuted sects the Anabaptists took refuge in Holland, a country famous for its religious tolerance. Some of the Pilgrims, fleeing persecution in England, went first to Holland before departing for America in 1620.

Voltaire's attitude toward religion has always been a subject of controversy. Some believe that he was completely opposed to all established religions and especially to Christianity. Others, in the minority, believe that he was opposed only to the abuses of religion. The question is difficult to answer with certainty. Draw up a list of whatever evidence you can find in Candide to support either opinion.

Chapter 3 ends with an unexplained encounter. Many other chapters in Candide end this way. They help to create a feeling of suspense and carry the reader on to the next chapter, in much the same way that a television serial leaves you hanging until the next episode.


The sick beggar's identity is revealed- Dr. Pangloss. Candide feeds the starving Pangloss and begs for news of Cunegonde. Pangloss replies that she died after being raped by Bulgar soldiers. All the other inhabitants of the castle are also dead, and the castle itself is leveled.

Candide faints. When he recovers, he asks Pangloss to tell his story. Why is he in such a pitiful condition? Pangloss attributes his problem to love. He has, in fact, contracted the "pox" from Paquette, the baroness's maid. Pangloss then proceeds to detail the origin of the pox and why it is necessary for the general good.

NOTE: The pox, as it was then called, is syphilis. Christopher Columbus's expedition was blamed for bringing syphilis from the New World to Europe. As we know today, however, Columbus and his crews were not the recipients but the probable donors of the "pox" to the Americas.

Candide brings Pangloss to Jacques, who calls a doctor to cure him. The philosopher recovers, but he is now minus an eye and an ear. He becomes bookkeeper to Jacques. Two months later, all three set sail for Lisbon on business. As they approach the harbor, a terrible storm blows up.

In Chapter 4, with the reappearance of Pangloss, the satire of philosophical optimism continues. The ridicule here has a burlesque tone, as Pangloss explains the great chain of cause and effect that resulted in his contracting the pox. Without the pox there would be no chocolate, since both came from the New World. Pangloss cannot separate the two imports. They are linked, because they are both effects of the same cause. In Pangloss's system, there must be some justification for the pox, so he links it to a positive result. This parody of philosophical reasoning, beginning with an invalid premise and ending with an absurd conclusion, is Voltaire's method of exposing the emptiness of Pangloss and, by extension, of his philosophy.

Pangloss always deals in abstractions and ideals. One source of the humor in the chapter is the clash between the real and the ideal. Pangloss says that his problem is love, which he then describes in idealistic, poetic terms. But the result of love so far is one kiss and 20 kicks for Candide and a case of the pox for Pangloss. Nonetheless, Pangloss remains undaunted by reality, which he twists and pounds to fit the shape of his philosophy.

Chapter 4 is a bridge chapter. The reader and Candide are brought up to date on the characters left behind in Westphalia. The reliability of Pangloss's account is highly questionable, as you will see. The chapter also brings Candide to Lisbon, the location of his next series of adventures.


During a furious storm at sea, Jacques is tossed overboard as he saves a sailor's life. The sailor does not, in turn, try to help him, and Jacques is drowned. The ship then splits apart and everyone is drowned, except Candide, Pangloss, and the sailor whom Jacques saved. On shore, Candide, Pangloss, and the sailor are heading for Lisbon when an earthquake, a tidal wave, and fires devastate the city.

NOTE: The devastating Lisbon earthquake occurred on November 1, 1755. More than 30,000 people, many of them in church to celebrate the feast of All Saints Day, were killed. Large parts of the city of Lisbon were destroyed. Various attempts were made to justify or explain this event in terms of divine will or providence. In keeping with the optimist philosophy, it could be justified as part of a larger plan or greater good. It was also seen by others as divine punishment. For Voltaire neither answer was acceptable. In his "Poem on the Disaster of Lisbon," Voltaire specifically raised the issue of providence. He questioned the possibility of justifying or explaining such an enormous tragedy in terms of divine will- either as part of a greater good or as punishment for sins.

Candide has been injured, but he and Pangloss do their best to help in the relief work. At dinner, Pangloss is attempting to explain the necessity of the earthquake when he is interrupted by an officer of the Roman Catholic Inquisition, who begins to question him. The chapter ends with an ominous nod from the officer.

Some readers have seen the problem of evil as the central concern of Candide. In this chapter, the reality of evil is portrayed in a different manner from what it was in Chapter 3. There, evil was man-made- war and the slaughter of innocent citizens. Here, evil appears as a force of nature. No one has caused the natural disaster, but the result is remarkably similar to that of military conflict. Like the Abare and Bulgar villages, Lisbon is leveled, smoldering, littered with corpses.

Theologians and philosophers had often justified natural catastrophes as divine retribution, punishment for man's sins. Pangloss justifies the catastrophe here by considering it a necessity, as something that must be. And, if everything is for the best, then so, too, must this be- a circular argument that, Voltaire seems to say, does not address the real issue.

For the moment, Voltaire does not pursue the idea of attempting to justify the unjustifiable. He only shows you the emptiness of Pangloss's reasoning.

The question of fate, or providence, is not directly addressed here, but the sense of the senselessness of fate underlies the chapter. In the storm at sea, it is the good man who dies and the evil man who survives to loot the ruins. People "of every age and either sex" are crushed to death, but the first survivor whom Pangloss, Candide, and the sailor meet is a prostitute. Since natural disasters had frequently been justified as punishment for immoral behavior, it is highly ironic that this survivor is a prostitute. What point do you think Voltaire is making?

In addition to the dominant problem of evil, other themes of Candide are briefly mentioned in this chapter. The presence of an officer of the Inquisition at the dinner and his dialogue with Pangloss again raise the theme of religion. Since the Inquisition was charged with enforcing "orthodoxy" (strict adherence to accepted Roman Catholic Church doctrine) and with wiping out "heresy" (deviations from accepted doctrine), the issue of intolerance is raised. And because the Inquisition had become notorious, especially in Spain and Portugal, for the sentencing and execution of heretics, the issue of fanaticism is implied. By the 18th century, these practices were infrequent. But the mere mention of the Inquisition conjured up an image of fanaticism and intolerance.

The chapter also contains the first examples of people working for a common cause. Everyone who is able, tries to help prevent the ship from sinking. After the earthquake, all the able-bodied people work to help the victims of the earthquake. These examples may help you to understand the theme of work and the meaning of the garden in Chapter 30.

NOTE: Notice the interesting contrast between the actions of Pangloss and Candide in similar situations. In Chapter 3, when Pangloss says he is starving, Candide immediately feeds him, even though he is anxious for news of Cunegonde. Here, when the wounded Candide begs for oil and wine, Pangloss, whose name is Greek for "all-tongue," keeps talking until Candide faints. Why does the author add this scene? What does it tell you about Pangloss and his true concerns?


To prevent more earthquakes, the authorities decide to hold an auto-da-fe.

NOTE: An auto-da-fe (from the Portuguese, "act of faith") was a public ceremony, during the first part of which accused heretics were sentenced by the Inquisition. The second part of the auto-da-fe was the execution by fire, carried out not by the Inquisitors but by the civil authorities. The clothing worn by Candide and Pangloss are the symbolically painted cape (sanbenito) and pointed hat (miter) of the heretic. By the 18th century auto-da-fes were rare, but not unheard of.

The officers of the Inquisition hand over the victims: a Spaniard ("Biscayan") who married his child's godmother (a marriage forbidden by the Church) and two men whose refusal to eat bacon (pork) revealed them to be practicing Jews despite their formal conversion to Catholicism. All unconverted Jews were expelled from Spain and Portugal in 1492. Pangloss and Candide, wearing the costumes of condemned heretics, are also delivered to the authorities. The ominous nod by the Inquisition officer to his armed guard that ended Chapter 5 is now explained. Candide and Pangloss were to be victims of the Inquisition for their heresy.

Candide is beaten and Pangloss is apparently hanged. The Biscayan and the Jews are burned. After Candide is set free, an old woman approaches him and tells him to follow her.

Voltaire chooses to have his characters condemned by the Inquisition in order to dramatize his chief quarrel with religion. In his view, religion perpetuates superstition, which, in turn, creates fanaticism and intolerance. The auto-da-fe chapter contains all these elements.

Superstition inspires the auto-da-fe, which is thought to prevent earthquakes. The burning of the heretics is the height of fanaticism. Intolerance is implicit in the burning of the converted Jews and in the hanging of Pangloss for his opinions.

After the auto-da-fe, Candide questions his optimist beliefs. Yet, it is not his own sufferings that most disturb him. He is baffled by the deaths of three of the people he cares about most: his good friend, Jacques; his tutor, Pangloss; and his beloved, Cunegonde. He repeatedly asks "Was it necessary?" because he can find no reason for their deaths. He wonders what other worlds must be like if this one is the best possible.

Candide's questions are left unanswered. He no longer has a Pangloss to justify and explain evil. He will now have to face such questions alone and find his own answers. NOTE: Pangloss is hanged, which the narrator notes "is not customary." You will find out in Chapter 29 why Pangloss was hanged and what role this plays in the story.


The old woman takes Candide to a small hut after his beating. She gives him food and ointment to rub on. She refuses, however, to explain why she is helping him, saying only that she is not the one he should be thanking. On the third day, she brings him to a beautiful house in the country and leaves him alone. When she returns, she is accompanied by a veiled woman. Candide lifts the veil to find Cunegonde. The lovers collapse. When they are revived, Candide tells Cunegonde his story.

The mysterious appearance of the old woman at the end of Chapter 6 establishes the tone for the beginning of Chapter 7. The old woman refuses to explain herself, and the atmosphere of mystery is maintained until Candide lifts Cunegonde's veil. The scene is straight out of a romantic adventure: The mysterious old woman, the unnamed ointment, the remote house in the country, and the veiled lady are stock romantic creations. Remember that Candide is also a parody of the romantic adventure story and that a recognition scene of this type was essential to such a story.

The atmosphere of mystery and romance is broken by none other than Cunegonde, the heroine. When she and Candide come face to face, they are overcome. Candide falls to the floor, but Cunegonde manages to collapse on the couch. This practical touch brings out the humor of the situation. And Cunegonde's straightforward answer to Candide's question about her fate at the hands of the Bulgars is a perfect introduction to the down-to-earth character of Cunegonde.

NOTE: Like Pangloss, Cunegonde believes that all the other inhabitants of Castle Thunder-ten- tronckh are dead. This allows for further surprises and more recognition scenes later on.


Cunegonde tells Candide of her adventures since they parted in Westphalia. After having seen the rest of her family murdered, Cunegonde explains that she was, indeed, raped and stabbed by a Bulgar soldier. She then went to live with the Bulgar captain, who had saved her. After he tired of her, the captain sold Cunegonde to a Jew, Don Issachar, who has established her in his country house in Portugal.

Don Issachar has been forced to share Cunegonde with the Grand Inquisitor, head of the Inquisition in Portugal, who has also taken a fancy to her. Cunegonde claims to have yielded to neither man, though both are in love with her.

Cunegonde then tells how she came to find Candide. She was attending the auto-da-fe with the Grand Inquisitor, the head of the Inquisition, when she recognized Pangloss and Candide among the victims. She sent her servant, the old woman, to find Candide and bring him to her. After dinner, their happy reunion is interrupted by the arrival of Don Issachar.

Chapter 8 is particularly important for the insight it gives the reader into the character of Cunegonde. Her narrative is a mixture of melodrama and down-to-earth practicality. She describes her dramatic struggle to resist the Bulgar soldier but doesn't think of her conduct as particularly unusual. She admits that her "saviour," the captain, killed her attacker not out of concern for her, but because the soldier had failed to salute. Although she confesses horror at the auto-da-fe, she is also glad that she had a good seat and refreshments.

But despite the fact that her practicality and adaptability allow her to find her way in most situations, she is not portrayed as cynical or unfeeling. She is genuinely overjoyed at seeing Candide. But she is essentially practical, and, though overjoyed, she does not forget that she is also hungry and wants her dinner.

As a student of Pangloss, Cunegonde mentions his optimist philosophy in her narrative, but, unlike Candide, she does not try to convince herself that Pangloss must be right. She sees the real world: the country house far more beautiful than her "perfect" home in Westphalia and the cruel reality of the Inquisition in the "best of all possible worlds." She faces reality and, comparing it with Pangloss's ideal view of life, concludes sensibly that she must have been deceived.

NOTE: Cunegonde provides another explanation for the auto-da-fe. It was held partly to conjure away earthquakes but also to put the fear of the Lord- or, in this case, of the Inquisition- into Don Issachar, the Grand Inquisitor's rival for Cunegonde.


Bursting in on the reunited couple, Don Issachar attacks Candide with a dagger. Candide then draws his sword and kills him. Terrified, he and Cunegonde turn to the old woman for advice. Before she can help them, the Grand Inquisitor enters. Without hesitation, Candide runs him through. The old woman says that they must run away. Taking money and jewels, they head for the Spanish port of Cadiz.

After they leave, the Holy Brotherhood, a type of religious police force, arrives. They bury the Grand Inquisitor and throw the Jew on a rubbish heap.

Voltaire's parody of the adventure story continues in Chapter 9 with the most dramatic episode in Candide's career. Chapter 9 is full of action and swordplay.

These incidents are the classic elements of an adventure story. But Voltaire's version is humorous and satirical. The humor comes from the author's choice of words and the frequent contrasts between the actions of romantic adventure and the language of mundane reality.

In this chapter, you get the idea that Candide is finally learning about this world. The philosophical justifications of earlier chapters yield to practical explanations for his rash actions. "My dear girl," replied Candide, "when a man is in love, jealous, and just whipped by the Inquisition, he is no longer himself."

The events of Chapter 9 move the story rapidly along and provide the impetus for Candide's voyage to the New World. He is fleeing the police, who are certain to want him for the murder of the Inquisitor.

NOTE: The old woman casually mentions, when they are about to leave on horseback, that she has only one buttock. This remark is left unexplained. She refers to that particular circumstance twice more in the following chapter, again without explanation. This is a type of humorous "teaser" to arouse your curiosity until the matter is finally explained in Chapter 12.

The entry of the Holy Brotherhood initiates the chase after Candide, which will resume in the New World. Voltaire also introduces this scene to show the contrast between the treatment of the Inquisitor and the Jew. The Inquisitor is buried in Church, while the Jew, at least as much a victim as the Inquisitor, is thrown on a pile of rubbish. However, you are also meant to notice how similar they are- in being dead!


At a stopover in a village inn, Cunegonde is robbed of her money and jewels. The old woman suspects that a Franciscan friar staying at the inn is the culprit. They sell one of their horses and ride on to Cadiz.

In Cadiz, Candide's skill with the Bulgar drill lands him a commission in an army being assembled to fight in Paraguay against the Jesuits. The army's task is to crush a rebellion led by the powerful Jesuits against the king of Spain. The trio, plus two servants, set sail for the New World. During the crossing, in the course of a discussion of Pangloss's philosophy, Candide expresses the hope of many Europeans of Voltaire's day, that the New World will be better than the Old.

Cunegonde, on the other hand, has little hope left after all her sufferings. The old woman claims to have suffered far worse trials. Cunegonde's skepticism inspires the old woman to tell her story.

Two prominent themes of Candide are developed further in the chapter. First, the biting satire of religion is continued. Three religious orders are mentioned- the Franciscans, the Benedictines, and the Jesuits; none of them is presented favorably.

The Franciscan is suspected of being a thief. The Benedictine buys the horse "cheap," implying that he drove a hard bargain. The Jesuits are accused of a more serious crime, inciting to rebellion.

Within the Roman Catholic Church, certain clergy, including priests, monks and nuns- also called brothers, friars, and sisters- belong to what are known as "religious orders." These are groups of men or women organized into communities and dedicated to following common rules of living and praying (generally, the rules of the founder).

Some orders, like the ancient Benedictines, founded in the 6th century, were at first monastic and lived apart from the world. Others, like the Jesuits (Society of Jesus), begun in 1539, were involved in the world as active missionaries, teachers, and even advisors to kings. The Franciscans, founded by St. Francis of Assisi in the 13th century as a reaction to earlier corruption of the clergy, began as wandering preachers devoted to a life of poverty. Though most orders shared an original commitment to maintaining the pure, spiritual life, many gradually became more and more involved in the material world.

Well before the 18th century, religious orders had been criticized frequently for their wealth, their meddling in political affairs, and their "worldliness." By "worldliness" was meant too great an attachment to the things of the world- to possessions, power, or pleasure- and not enough to spiritual matters. Voltaire's depiction of abuses by the religious orders is not unique. Lecherous priests and thieving monks were common in humorous works from the Middle Ages on. The English writer Chaucer (1340?-1400) and the Italian writer Boccaccio (1313-1375) both satirized the clergy in their great works, The Canterbury Tales and The Decameron.

The corruption and materialism of the clergy was one of the major issues in the development of the Protestant Reformation in the 16th century.

In this chapter, the object of religious satire is different from the object in Chapter 5. Great issues like fanaticism and intolerance are not mentioned here, but the corruption and worldliness of "religious orders" are exposed. At the heart of this corruption is the same hypocrisy you've seen already in the Protestant preacher in Holland. These "religious" characters obviously do not practice what they preach.

The second major theme treated in the chapter is, again, philosophical optimism. Notice the difference in attitude between Cunegonde and Candide as they set sail. Candide still hopes to find "the best of all possible worlds," but he is beginning to admit that, so far, all is not right in the world he knows. Cunegonde is more realistic, but because she feels so little hope, she is almost despondent.

Before Chapter 10 ends, Cunegonde announces a new theme- the theme of human misery and self-pity. If you've ever been really depressed and felt the whole world is against you, then maybe you can understand how Cunegonde feels. She thinks that she must be the most miserable woman in the world after all her troubles. Notice how the author plays with this theme in later chapters.


The old woman was not always an ugly servant, she tells Cunegonde, as she begins her fantastic story. In fact, as the daughter of a princess and a pope, she had been raised in great splendor. Famed for her beauty, she inspired poetry and songs. She was engaged to the prince of Massa Carrara. But the wedding never took place. The prince was murdered by his former mistress. In despair, the prince's young fiancee and her mother left by ship for Gaeta, a town in southern Italy. On the way they were captured by pirates. She was raped by the captain, who then carried her and her mother off to Morocco.

Morocco was in the midst of a terrible civil war. When they landed, they were attacked by a rival faction. All were slaughtered except the young woman, who was left for dead. She awoke to find a body pressing on her and to hear a voice murmuring in Italian.

The old woman's story is one of the most colorful episodes in the novel. Her narrative is highly charged with melodramatic extremes, from the ecstatic description of her own beauty to the horrors of the carnage on the beach. She speaks in a torrent of words, piling comparison upon comparison, superlative upon superlative.

In contrast to the drama of her story as a young woman is her matter-of-fact commentary as the old woman narrator. The old woman's attitude implies that there is really nothing so extraordinary in her experiences. Being seized by pirates and raped is, she now realizes, something that happens all the time in this world. Likewise, the strip search, which seemed so strange to her at the time, she now knows is simply a custom of the seas.

The old woman's remarks serve various purposes. They highlight the worldly-wise, unflappable character of the old woman. They illustrate the universality of evil and emphasize the author's sarcasm. For, even if these events are "common matters," they are not any the less evil. The old woman's commentary brings you down to earth from the dramatic heights of the "young" woman's life.

No major new themes are introduced here; but old themes are expanded upon. For example, a new dimension is added to the theme of evil- its universality. As terrible as events may be, they are not unique. But not being unique makes them all the more terrible. Religious satire is expanded beyond Christianity to include Islam. All across Morocco, people are slaughtering each other by the thousands, but no one forgets to say his prayers to Allah. Both Moroccan pirates and the Christian Knights of Malta treat their captives with equal barbarity. No religion, Voltaire seems to say, can restrain man's wickedness.

The chapter ends with another of Voltaire's "teasers"- the man murmuring in Italian, "What a misfortune to be without testicles!" Although this line draws the reader on to the next chapter, it also serves to emphasize the sexuality that is an important element of the old woman's story. In her youth, her outstanding characteristic was her beauty. As a princess, she was courted and admired for her body. As a prisoner, she was stripped and (like Cunegonde) raped. In the continuation of her story, you will see what happens to her as her beauty fades.

NOTE: Parodies (comic imitation) of literary forms and styles are frequent in Candide. In this chapter, Voltaire appears to be making fun of an ornate Italian literary style. The old woman's description of herself as a princess is a cliche of Renaissance Italian love poetry. The exaggerations and colorful dramatic touches in her narrative also imitate that style.


The man who closed Chapter 11 murmuring in Italian about his misfortune was a Neapolitan castrato, or eunuch, a man castrated to preserve a high singing voice. In Morocco on a diplomatic mission, he had formerly been court musician to the old woman's mother, the princess of Palestrina. After offering to help her to Italy, the old woman explains as she continues her story, he treacherously sold her to a local Muslim lord, who made her a member of his harem (women members of the household, including wives, mistresses, sisters, daughters).

A plague epidemic then broke out, killing both the eunuch and the lord, but the young woman survived to be sold from one merchant to another until she ended up in Turkey, in another harem of a local lord, or aga. During a siege by the Russian army, the aga's harem was defended by a group of soldiers who refused to surrender. To feed the starving soldiers, each woman in the harem was forced to sacrifice one buttock. (Here is the answer to the mystery created by the old woman's comment in Chapter 9.)

The fort was taken by the Russians and the women were sold as servants. The young woman finally escaped from Russia and made her way across Europe, working as a servant. No longer young or beautiful, she was often miserable, especially when she thought about her fate in life. Her last position on her journey across Europe was with Don Issachar, as servant to Cunegonde, with whom she now intends to remain.

As her long story ends, the old woman reminds Cunegonde that she is not alone in her fate. The old woman challenges Cunegonde to find one person on the ship who has not had his troubles. If she can find one person who has never thought that he was the most miserable person on earth, the old woman will throw herself overboard.

This second part of the old woman's adventures has been as full of drama and catastrophes as the first, if not more so. She is sold from hand to hand, first as a harem girl and then, after she is mutilated, as a servant. As she is sold off and moved from place to place, she seems to be a plaything of fate. She apparently has no control over her own destiny. Trying to return home from Russia, she never succeeds either in getting back to Italy or in improving her lot.

A counterbalance to the old woman's consistent ill fortune, however, is her equally consistent ability to survive. Everyone except her dies on the shores of Morocco. During the plague, the eunuch, the lord, and most of the harem die, but she survives. Voltaire never comments directly on why she survives, but the conclusion of the chapter may provide a partial answer. Despite everything, the old woman loves life. Perhaps it is this love of life that prevents her from being crushed by its miseries.

But this is really not an answer since other people love life as much and do not survive. The old woman says that nearly everyone she has met feels both the misery of his fate and his attachment to life. Why, then, do some survive and not others? In Candide, do you think Voltaire attempts to answer this question? What would Pangloss say?

Voltaire, in his satirical attacks on optimism, argues that mankind's misery is obviously not for the best. He also rejects the related religious argument that God's will (providence) provides a justification, since both good and bad alike suffer in wars and earthquakes. How else can such negative events be explained? Is man just a victim of random, accidental events? Or are they a result of our own evil nature? Later on, in Chapters 20 and 21, watch for Martin the scholar's pessimistic views on the subject. Or, perhaps, the world is governed by certain principles, but ones that are beyond our ability to understand them, so that what seems like a cruel fate would make sense if only it could be grasped? Whether Voltaire offers, at the end, any explanation for the world's unhappiness or merely dismisses the question as irrelevant, is for you to decide.

NOTE: The old woman's story, to a certain extent, foreshadows Cunegonde's fate. Remember this story when you read the final chapters and compare the old woman's destiny with Cunegonde's.

At the end of the chapter, the old woman issues a challenge to Cunegonde- to see whether she can find anyone who does not pity his lot in life. This refers back to Cunegonde's feeling of misery and self-pity at the end of Chapter 10. Watch for this theme in Chapter 19, where the author uses a similar technique, a challenge to tell the story of one's woes, in a more lighthearted way.


The voyage to Buenos Aires continues. As each passenger tells his story, the old woman's viewpoint is confirmed. When they arrive in Buenos Aires, Candide presents himself to the governor, Don Fernando d'Ibaraa y Figueroa y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza. The gentleman takes an immediate fancy to Cunegonde and sends Candide off to drill his troops. The governor proposes to Cunegonde, who goes to the old woman for advice. The old woman suggests that she accept the governor's proposal.

A ship from Portugal arrives in the harbor. The police are searching for the murderer of the Grand Inquisitor. The Franciscan who robbed Cunegonde has set the police on their trail. The old woman urges Cunegonde to stay and Candide to flee as quickly as possible.

The old woman continues to play an important role in this chapter. She guides the actions of both Cunegonde and Candide. Her advice is practical, a level-headed evaluation of the situation. Cunegonde can afford to stay in Buenos Aires because she has the protection of the governor. Candide, on the other hand, can count on the governor for nothing. The young man stands in the way of the governor's desire to marry Cunegonde.

NOTE: Don Fernando d'Ibaraa y Figueroa y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza is a caricature of an arrogant Spanish nobleman. The inflated multiplication of names exaggerates the Spanish custom of using both parents' last names in one's own surname. Voltaire is emphasizing the extreme pride and self- importance of the governor.

In this chapter, the reliability of the old woman's judgment is confirmed. She suspected that the Franciscan had robbed them outside Cadiz, and she was right: There is a degree of cynicism in the old woman's guidance. Her evaluations, although correct, are generally negative, which is why she sees the general misery around her. She coolly counsels Cunegonde to abandon Candide.

Is her advice to Cunegonde purely cynical, though? She does seem to have Cunegonde's best interest at heart. Maybe as a survivor, she sees the best way out of a bad situation. If she were a true cynic, wouldn't she perhaps choose to leave Cunegonde and try her luck elsewhere?

Chapter 13 is another bridge chapter, this time connecting the Old World and the New World. With the arrival of the police from Portugal, Candide sets off for South America on the next phase of his journey.

THE STORY, continued


ECC [Candide Contents] []

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