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Free Study Guide: Candide by Voltaire - Synopsis / Analysis

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Storm, Shipwreck, Earthquake, and what happened to Dr. Pangloss, to Candide and the Anabaptist Jacques


The boat disintegrates. Passengers are frantic. Anabaptist Jacques tries to help. Jacque is about to fall into the sea himself, yet he tries to save the sailor. In the process he loses his life. The ship sinks. Only the sailor, Pangloss, and Candide survive. Pangloss argues that the particular part of the sea is meant for Jacques to drown in.

They finally reach Lisbon. An earthquake destroys most buildings. A tidal wave crushes the ships in the port. Pangloss tries to rationalize about the happening while Candide thinks that it is the end of the world. Candide is hurt with the falling debris. He asks for a little oil and wine while Candide continues to philosophize. Candide faints. Pangloss fetches him a little water from the neighboring fountain. When Candide recovers, Pangloss tells him that since the volcano is in Lisbon it cannot be elsewhere. So all is well. An officer of the Inquisition concludes from this that he does not believe in the original sin and the fall of Adam, or in free will. Pangloss says that free will and the fall are predetermined in an ideal universe. Before he can finish his arguments, he is arrested.


In this chapter, Voltaire attacks the optimistic but ridiculous theory of Pangloss in a satirical manner. The boat disintegrates. The innocent passengers die for no fault of theirs. The good and helpful Jacques dies and that too while he is trying to save a sailor. The mean and cruel sailor survives. By this Voltaire shows that there is no divine justice for human beings. Pangloss continues to argue in favor of his theory instead of making an attempt to reduce the effect of the catastrophe. He is full of theory but no practicality. He foolishly rationalizes that since the earthquake took place in Lisbon, it means that there is a volcano in Lisbon. And since there is a volcano in Lisbon it means that there is no volcano elsewhere.

There is a reference to Inquisition, which was a Roman Catholic court of justice connected with the Catholic Church in Portugal, Spain, and Italy. It mercilessly punished heretics and Jews by putting them to death.

Pangloss believes that man is destined to be doomed because of Adamís original sin unless Christ saves him. Since everything happens for good, manís fall too must be for good. Pangloss believes that man is free to choose between good and evil. But he also believes that everything is predestined.


How a splendid auto-da-fé was held to present earthquakes, and how Candide was flogged


After the earthquake three-quarters of Lisbon is destroyed. The wise men at the University of Coimbra decide to have an auto-da-fé to prevent another earthquake. They arrest a Biscayan for marrying his godchildís grandmother and two men for not eating bacon. They also arrest Candide and Pangloss. After a week in prison they are treated as devils and punished to the beautiful sounds of chanting. Candide is badly flogged. Pangloss is hanged. Others are burned. There is another earthquake on that same day.

Candide wonders why Pangloss should have been hanged. And why a good person like Jacques should have been drowned while he was trying to save a sailor. Just then an old woman tells him to follow her.


In this chapter, Voltaire highlights the superstitious society of his time. It is surprising that university persons suggested a superstitions act like auto-da-fé.

Coimbra was the center of Inquisition in Portugal. Heretics were often burned to death in auto-da-fé. It is ironical that beautiful music written in counterpoint is played at this cruel ceremony. It is in dire contrast to the cruelty of this ceremony. Still more ironical is the fact that another earthquake takes place on the same day.

A Biscay man is arrested and burned for having violated the laws of the church by marrying his godchildís godmother. Since there is no incestuous relationship Voltaire considers the severe punishment absurd. Equally ridiculous is the burning of two men for not eating bacon.

Voltaire has depicted a lot of misery in this chapter. People are killed for no fault of theirs. Candide thus wonders why this has happened.

The chapter ends on a note of surprise when an old woman suddenly tells Candide to follow her.

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