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Free Study Guide: Candide by Voltaire - Synopsis / Analysis

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Candideís voyage to Constantinople


Cacambo arranges for their journey to Constantinople with his ďmiserable highness,Ē Achmet. Candide feels that his own fate is better than that of kings. Cacambo informs Candide that Cunégonde washes dishes for a prince who possesses very few dishes. She is a slave in the house of a former sovereign named Ragotsky. Cacambo reveals that she is very ugly. Candide is determined to do his duty and always love her.

Then turning to Martin, Candide asks him whom he thought to be the unhappiest among the people they have recently met. Candide also wishes that Pangloss were there so that he could question him regarding his theories. Martin says there are millions whose condition is worse than that of the kings.

Candide helps to free Cacambo from slavery. They sail in search of Cunégonde. Two convict oarsmen are beaten by a Turk. Candide is surprised that one is the Baronís son and the other is Pangloss! Candide gets them freed by paying fifty thousand sequins, which a Jew gives him as payment for a diamond, which is worth twice the amount. Pangloss and the Baronís son are very thankful. The Baronís son promises to repay the money. They take another galley and proceed to search for Cunégonde.


In this chapter, too, one finds that a meeting of old acquaintances takes place by chance or co-incidence. The reader is as surprised as Candide and Martin are, when they meet Pangloss and the Baronís son. The kind and helpful nature of Candide is revealed when he pays to get them freed.

It is ironical that Cunégonde who is a Baronís daughter has to wash dishes for her survival. The beautiful and young Cunégonde as was known to Candide, has now become ugly. Candide is determined to search for her and always do his duty and love her. This shows his sincerity and integrity.

There is immense truth in Martinís opinion that nobody can read menís hearts. There are millions who are worse off than the kings are. Candide tends to agree with him. This is true even today. Even people who seem happy may actually be very miserable, even worse off than the kings depicted by Voltaire.


What happened to Candide, to Cunégonde, to Pangloss, to Martin, etc.


Candide apologizes for having thrust his sword into the Baronís son. The Baronís son admits that he acted hastily. He tells him in detail how he was cured and then sent to Constantinople as Chaplin to the French ambassador. He was beaten badly and sent to the galley for bathing naked with the Sultanís pageboy.

Pangloss too tells his story. When he was to be burned, fire could not be lit due to rain. So they hanged him with a wet rope. After that they thought he died, but actually he did not. A surgeon took his corpse to use it for dissection. Suddenly, Pangloss screamed and the surgeonís wife thought there was a devil in his body and that he was a heretic. Finally his life was saved when a barber stitched him up. He became a servant of a knight in Malta. Later he became a servant of a Venetian merchant in Constantinople. At a mosque a girl with bare breasts happened to drop her flowers. Pangloss picked them and returned them to her, lingering on in the process of doing so. This annoyed the priest. So Pangloss was beaten and sent to the galleys. There he was kept near the Baronís son.

Candide asks Pangloss whether he thought all his misery has been for the best. Pangloss says that he still believes so. It is unbecoming for a philosopher to change his mind. He still believes in the theories of preestablished harmony and the theories of Leibniz.


In the last chapters of the novel, Voltaire gradually and efficiently brings the leading characters together. Panglossís account of all that happened to him is gruesome. Yet his experience of being stitched by a barbed does provide hilarious comedy. Pangloss still believes in his philosophy of optimism. According to him Leibniz cannot be wrong. He thus clings to Leibnizís theories. He continues to believe in the preestablished harmony of the body and soul, which act together because God has thus ordained. He believes that the universe is a ďplenum.Ē It is fullness. Outer space does not and cannot exist. He also believes that the heavenly bodies move in a jelly-like substance, which keeps them in position. Newton disagreed with such ideas and Voltaire agreed with Newton. Here, Voltaire satirizes the philosophical jargon and the obstinacy and vanity of philosophers who do not admit that they are wrong even though they may know it. Voltaire did believe in God. He believed that there was a designer who arranged the happenings of the universe. He however, did not believe that God intervened in the affairs of the world.

It is ironical that the Baronís son who is so proud of his lineage is treated so shabbily. The reader comes to know that in spite of all the humiliation he has gone through, he does no give up his foolish pride. When he is punished for bathing naked with the Sultanís pageboy one does feel that the punishment given to him is too harsh. Yet some critics feel he has homosexual tendencies.

Voltaire has emphasized manís irrationality and cruelty.

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