Characters Discussed (Cyclopedia of Literary Characters, Revised Third Edition)
Candide (kahn-DEED), a gentle, honest, and pleasant young man, reputed to be the illegitimate son of the sister of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. Expelled from the Baron’s castle after exploring the mysteries and pleasures of love with Cunegonde, the Baron’s daughter, Candide travels all over the world. A dutiful young man who has been taught that this is the best of all possible worlds, Candide searches the globe for proof, meeting old friends and acquaintances in unexpected places and unusual circumstances. During his travels he has many misadventures and endures many hardships and pains. Impressed into the Bulgarian army, he discovers the horrors of war. He lives through the Lisbon Earthquake and is ordered flogged by officers of the Inquisition. He finds and loses his sweetheart Cunegonde. He discovers wealth and loses it. He kills men when he does not mean to do so. All these experiences slowly convince Candide that this is really not the best of all possible worlds. After years of wandering, he retires to a little farm where he lives with a small group of friends and his wife, Cunegonde, now old and far from pretty.
Cunegonde (kew-nay-GOHND), the beautiful daughter of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. With Candide, she explores love, only to have her young lover dismissed violently from the castle. After his dismissal, she endures much...
(The entire section is 805 words.)
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Themes and Characters
Although the work contains many descriptions of injuries and death, the narrative is satirical and inspires an ironic sense of humor for the reader. Candide is portrayed as an innocent and frank young man, who is probably the illegitimate offspring of a nobleman. He is continually surprised by any negative turn of events, and grateful to anyone who befriends him. At various times he is drafted, flogged or shipwrecked, and sometimes helped in increasingly improbable ways. Throughout his adventures he never forgets his tutor Pangloss's belief that this is the best of all possible worlds—though sometimes Candide rejects this belief.
The character Cacambo, who becomes Candide's loyal manservant and friend, is a man of mixed race—Spanish and South American aboriginal. By the end of the story, it is abundantly clear that Cacambo is honest, trustworthy, hard-working and almost beyond reproach.
People of noble birth in the story are presented in a positive light only when they do not assume an air of superiority based on their birth, and by the end of the story, it is impossible to keep track of the cruelty done by self-serving leaders of various countries and principalities, or of the deposed leaders who have lost their powers but not their pride. Throughout the novel, Voltaire makes it clear that humans treat each other abominably and cause most human suffering. And just as the reader might begin to assume that Voltaire attributes all of...
(The entire section is 412 words.)
Cacambo is "a quarter Spanish, born of a half-Indian father in the Tucuman province of Argentina. He had been a choir boy, a sexton, a sailor, a monk, a commercial agent, a soldier and a servant." He is now Candide's beloved valet and traveling companion. They experience Eldorado together. Towards the end, it is Cacambo who arranges for Candide to find Cunégonde again. Cacambo is also the one who does all the work when they first start farming.
The fantastically naïve young man who is "driven from his earthly paradise" with hard kicks in his backside is Candide. Like Everyman, from the medieval morality play by that name, Candide experiences as much as a man could experience in order to arrive at a well-deserved conclusion regarding the plight of man. He exemplifies the idea of optimism when he reluctantly enters the world and leaves the household of the Baron's castle in Westphalia behind. Westphalia, so Candide was told, is the best of all possible kingdoms. In retrospect, he sees that it had a few problems.
It is suspected that Candide is the bastard offspring of the Baron's sister and a gentleman of the neighborhood. This ignoble birth is not held over him except when it matters most—marriage to Cunégonde. In the course of his travels he is conscripted, beaten, and robbed. Circumstances make Candide a criminal, "I'm the kindest man in the world, yet I've already killed...
(The entire section is 1301 words.)