Free Study Guide: Candide by Voltaire - Synopsis / Analysis|
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CANDIDE: FREE ONLINE NOTES / LITERARY ANALYSIS
The proud and pompous Baron, Thunder-ten-tronckh resembles Fredrick the Great with whom Voltaire had close connection for a long time. The Baron’s son is vain and very powerful. Candide resembles Voltaire in many ways. The name Candide suggests innocence. Cunégonde represents Madam de Chatelet whom Voltaire loved dearly. He was considerably influenced by her. The word Pangloss means “all tongue.” In fact, Pangloss is very talkative although his talk rarely makes sense. He is supposed to be a philosopher and a very learned man. His philosophy is quite incomprehensive. Voltaire has used him to attack excessively optimistic philosophy. He has also attacked the snobbery of the aristocratic people. The Baron’s sister refuses to marry her lover whose nobility is one degree less than hers. He further ridicules such people when he says that the greatness of the Baron and the grandeur of his castle are judged by the fact that the castle had doors, windows and tapestry. This castle is in Westphalia, which is full of poverty. People having wealth consider themselves very superior.
Pangloss is a metaphysician. He is supposed to be qualified in metaphysics,
which is a study of existence and knowledge. Theology is a study of God.
Cosmology is a study of the universe. “Nigology” is a word invented to
indicate that Pangloss’s teaching is nonsense. Candide listens to Pangloss’s
teachings very carefully. The words ‘because,’ ‘therefore’ and ‘for’ sound
very impressive but actually they are illogically used. Voltaire parodies
Pangloss’s style and behavior. Pangloss acts romantic with the maid Paquette.
Seeing him Cunégonde also behaves in a romantic manner. Candide
reacts reciprocally. Consequently, he is kicked on his back and thrown
out of the castle. Cunégonde is slapped by her mother.
After being thrown out from the castle of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh,
Candide comes to Waldberghofftrarbk-dikdorff. He is very sad and hungry.
He is invited to dinner by two men who are recruiting officers to the
King of Bulgars. They ask whether he loves tenderly. He admits that he
loves tenderly. He admits that he loves Cunégonde tenderly. Then
one of them clarifies that they wish to know whether or not he loves the
king of Bulgarians. Candide frankly says that he does not, because he
has never seen him. They tell him to drink to the health of their charming
king. He gladly does so. They suddenly say that now he is a hero. They
put irons on his legs and take him to the regiment. He is beaten severely
though he protests vehemently. Suddenly, the king appears. He recognizes
Candide’s innocence and pardons him. A surgeon heals Candide in three
weeks with ointments recommended by Dioscorides. Candide is much better
by the time the King of Bulgarians goes to war with the King of Abares.
The Abars here represent the French. The King represents Frederick the Great. Actually, historically speaking Abars were an Asian tribe who conquered Bulgars.
Candide is made to join the regiment without his consent. He does not even know what is being done to him. He is treated in a mechanical manner. In those days it was not unusual for citizens to be forced to join the military service. He is beaten up cruelly. Fortunately, the King is more humane. He pardons him. Actually the reader wonders what crime had he committed. He only admits that he does not love the King because he has never seen him.
Ointments prescribed by Dioscorides cure him. Dioscorides lived in the first century AD. Thus it is indirectly indicated that the French were still resorting to obsolete medicine.
In this chapter, just as in many other chapters of this novel, chance or co-incidence has an important role to play. The King arrives by chance and Candide is saved. A surgeon cures him. Otherwise, he might have died.
Candide is deceived by the soldiers because of his naivety. Yet he is pardoned
because of his simplicity and innocence.
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. 10 May 2008