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Free Study Guide: Candide by Voltaire - Synopsis / Analysis

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CANDIDE: PRINTABLE NOTES / BOOKNOTES

CHAPTER 19

What happened to them at Surinam and how Candide made acquaintance of Martin

Summary

Candide and Cacambo lose llama after llama till they are left with only two of them. Candide realizes that the riches of the world are transitory. Only his virtue and the happiness of seeing Cunégonde again are permanently with him.

In Surinam in Dutch Guiana Candide and Cacambo meet the slave of the merchant Vanderdendur. The Negro slave works in sugar plantations. The authorities cut off his hand when his finger was trapped, as they did not want to stop the mill. His leg was cut off to prevent him from running away. His parents sold him to slave-traders. He was persecuted as a Socinian. The priests preach that all humans are children of Adam. Yet the slave is treated so badly. Candide weeps and loses hope in the theory of Pangloss and optimism.


Candide is shocked to know that Cunégonde is the mistress of Don Fernando. He sends Cacambo to but her and arranges to meet them in Venice. Vanderdendur agrees to sail to Italy but disappears with the llamas without him. Candide goes to see a judge to seek redress. The Dutch judge fines him instead of helping him. Candide is sad to experience the wickedness of mankind. He decides to sail for Bordeaux with Martin.

Notes

In this chapter too, Voltaire continues his satirical attack on society and the shocking norms prevailing therein. Many French towns owed their prosperity to the slave trade.

The name Vanderdendur is a combination of Vanderussen (a magistrate) and Vandurea (a bookseller). Voltaire disliked both of them.

Voltaire criticizes religious fanaticism again. Martin is persecuted as a Socinian. Socinians were disciples of Socini, a reformer in the sixteenth century, who denied the existence of Trinity and also the dignity of Christ.

Candide wishes to cling to the theory of Pangloss, but it becomes impossible to do so amidst so much evil. He cannot revel in optimism. He is robbed by a captain and victimized by a judge who is a representative of law. Candide seeks legal redress. He does not seek to find an excuse for the evils in the world. Voltaire believed that man has to fight against evil.

Voltaire is critical of Dutch ‘fetishes’ or priests who do not practice what they preach. They preach that all human are children of Adam but they persecute and ill-treat human beings in a horrible manner.


CHAPTER 20

What happened to Candide and Martin at Sea

Summary

During voyage Candide and Martin discuss philosophy. They feel a little consoled while talking although they can come to no conclusion. After a meal and thinking of Cunégonde Candide leans towards Pangloss’s theories. Martin feels that God has abandoned this world (except Eldorado) to the devil. Everywhere there is envy, murder, and sorrow. They witness a battle in which Vanderdendur’s boat is sunk. Candide is overjoyed to recover the llama. He says that God has punished the Dutch Villain. Martin replies that the devil has drowned the passenger. Candide is encouraged by the return of the llama. He hopes to find Cunégonde.

Notes

They do not go to the Cape of Good Hope. This is symbolic of the fact that Martin has no hope left. He believes that God has abandoned the world. He expects no help from the Divine.

Candide and Martin discuss philosophy and derive pleasure from it. Candide’s mind has all-pervading thoughts of Cunégonde. Voltaire seems to realize and admit that philosophical discussions can be very pleasurable, but he revolts and satirizes the philosophical ideas when they are clearly absurd as in previous chapters of the novel.

According to Martin, the devil plays the role of a villain in this world. He believes that the devil drowned the passengers.


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