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Free Study Guide: Candide by Voltaire - Synopsis / Analysis

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How Candide was obliged to separate from the fair Cunégonde and the old woman


Having heard her story, the fair Cunégonde treats her with the respect and politeness due to a person of her rank and merit. Candide regrets that he cannot question late Pangloss on his views.

In Buenos Ayres, the governor is proud and pompous. He is fascinated by Cunégonde beauty. Candide is alarmed but he cannot pretend that she is his wife. The governor Don Fernando proposes to her. She asks him for a quarter of an hour to consider the proposal.

The old woman advises her to accept Don Fernando’s proposal. He will protect her. Candide must flee, or he will be killed for killing Don Issachar. Cunégonde runs to Candide and tells him to flee or he will be burned. There is not a moment to lose. But there is a question as to how he can leave Cunégonde and where he will take refuge.

The police recover the stolen jewels, while the monk who had stolen them is trying to sell them off.


Though Pangloss is absent, his theories seem to echo in the mind of Candide. His influence still pervades. Candide yearns for his presence so that he can question some of his views.

Buenos Ayres is the capital of Argentina. It is on the southeast coast of South America. Its governor Don Fernando proposes to Cunégonde. Candide is very simple and honest. He cannot lie and pretend that she is his wife.

The old woman is extremely practical. She has suffered so much, that there is no place for feeling or emotion in her practicality. She tells Cunégonde to stay on with the governor, although she knows that Candide and Cunégonde love each other very much.

Cunégonde advises Candide to flee or he will be burned (for killing Don Issachar). Thus, Cunégonde too sets aside all her emotions and desire for Candide. She too is practical. Moreover, she is really concerned for Candide’s safety and life.


How Candide and Cacambo were received by the Jesuits in Paraguay


Candide’s valet, Cacambo is a practical man. He advises Candide to join the Jesuit Army immediately. He describes the system of Jesuit fathers as ‘a masterpiece of reason and justice.’ They take everything and give the Paraguayans nothing. They are priests to the Kings of Spain and Portugal. Yet, they wage wars against them while in Paraguay. They kill Spaniards in Paraguay and send them to heaven in Madrid.

The Reverend commandant hears that Candide is a German and he invites him to an exotic meal. Candide is taken to a beautiful summerhouse. They have excellent breakfast from golden dishes. The Paraguayans eat humble food from wooden bowls outside. Gradually, Candide recognizes the Reverend father Commandant as the brother of Cunégonde. He is surprised and is happy to inform Candide that Cunégonde is alive and well with the governor of Buenos Ayres. They talk and listen to each other attentively.


Voltaire makes a mockery of the Jesuit fathers who take everything from the Paraguayans and give them nothing. They are most unreasonable and unjust although they are supposed to be religious people who are expected to be kind and considerate. They live in luxury, eating exotic meals from golden plates while the Paraguayans eat humble food from wooden bowls. Thus, he has satirized people associated with religion. Love and concern for human beings is advocated by all religions. “Love thy neighbor,” “Do unto your neighbor as you would have him do unto you,” are some of the Christian commandments. Yet the Jesuits treat some human beings in exactly the opposite way, as they themselves would like to be treated.

At the end of the chapter, Candide realizes that the Reverend Father Commandant is Cunégonde’s brother. He has adopted a religious robe but has not given up snobbery. Voltaire is trying to tell the reader that one does not become a great person by changing one’s garb. To become great one has to imbibe the spirit of religion. Renunciation and change must take place within the human being. The father commandant has not renounced his selfishness luxury snobbery and worldly pleasures, although he is a father commandant of religious order.

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