Free Study Guide: Candide by Voltaire - Synopsis / Analysis

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Pangloss is the teacher of Cunégonde. He is supposed to be a very learned man and a philosopher. He talks a lot. He often explains his theory of ‘causes and effect,’ which makes no sense. According to him, the world he lives in is the best of all possible worlds.

Pangloss develops syphilis from Paquette, the chambermaid. When Cunégonde sees him physically involved with her, she decides to experience the ‘cause and effect’ of romance. She tries a little romance with Candide. They are seen, and Candide is thrown out of the castle. Thus he has an adverse effect on his students.

Pangloss is a man of all talk and no action. Even when Candide is badly hurt and asks for wine and oil, he keeps talking and philosophizing instead of helping him. According to him it is impossible for things not to be where they are, for everything is for the best. He tries to prove that a certain part of the ocean was meant for Jacques to drown in. His philosophy remains absurd till the end. Even when he is thoroughly bored, he keeps philosophizing. Naïve characters like Candide, Cunégonde, sometimes believe in his philosophy, but their faith wavers from time to time. Even when he is thoroughly bored, he keeps talking while others are working. He tells Candide that all events are linked up. For if he had not been expelled from the castle, if he had not stuck the Baron with the sword, and if he had not lost his sheep he would not be eating candied citrons and pistachios on his farm. At the end of the novel, Candide politely but firmly rejects his philosophy. He goes back to his work rather than waste his time listening to him.


Martin is pessimistic and an extremely unhappy man. He is chosen by Candide to accompany him. He sees only envy, murder, and hate everywhere except in Eldorado. When the guilty Dutch Captain drowns with the passengers, he sarcastically says that God punished the scoundrel but the devil has drowned the rest. Voltaire himself would have agreed with such sarcasm, as he himself did not believe that life is a fairy tale wherein the wicked are punished and the good people prosper. He has suffered shocking social atrocities.

Martin feels that the world exists to turn people mad. His idea is confirmed by the chaos in Paris. He believes that man is evil by nature. The fate of the kings confirms his view that everything is liable for sudden doom, which can be brought about by an earthquake, an assassination, a plague, a revolt, or any other happening. He also believes that there are millions of men whose condition is worse than that of the kings.

Martin approves of direct methods. In Constantinople, he advises that the Baron should be thrown directly into the sea. According to him man is born to suffer from restlessness, anxiety, and boredom. However, at the end of the novel he believes, like Candide, that one must work without arguing. That is the only way to make life bearable.

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Candide by Voltaire: Free BookNotes Summary

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