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 pain and many adventures. She is captured by the Bulgarians, raped, and wounded. She makes her way to Portugal, where she becomes the mistress of two men, a Jew and an officer of the Inquisition. She is reunited with Candide only to be separated from him by another series of unhappy adventures. At last she and Candide are reunited. Married, they settle down on a small farm. By that time, his ardor for her has been cooled by the adventures she has undergone and the effect they have had upon her. She becomes adept as a pastry cook, happy in that humble occupation.
Pangloss (pan-GLOHS), Candide’s tutor, a professor of abstract nonsense. Despite the terrible adventures that befall Candide and Pangloss’ other friends, he is unwilling to forgo theorizing or to admit that this is not the best of all possible worlds. He settles down with Candide on the latter’s farm after undergoing many misadventures, including being hanged unsuccessfully by the Inquisition.
Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh (tewn-DAHR-tehn-TROHNK), Cunegonde’s brother, who inherits his father’s title. He is a proud young man, even in adversity and poverty, and he refuses again and again to give his consent to a marriage between his sister and Candide. Tired at last of the Baron’s refusals, uttered with no regard for what Candide has endured on behalf of Cunegonde or the girl’s changed condition, Candide causes the proud Baron to be shipped as a galley slave.
Jacques (zhahk), a kindly Anabaptist who befriends Candide in Holland and travels with him to Portugal, only to be drowned at the time of the Lisbon Earthquake.
Martin (mahr-TAN), a friend Candide meets in Surinam. Accused by the Church of being a Socinian heretic, Martin admits to Candide that he is a Manichee, though none is supposed to be left in the world. Martin travels with Candide on the latter portion of Candide’s wanderings and settles down with Candide on a small farm.
Paquette (pa-KEHT), a maid to the Baroness Thunder-ten-tronckh. Loved by Pangloss, she gives him venereal disease. After many misadventures of her own, she turns up again in Candide’s life and becomes a member of the little colony on his farm, where she earns her living by doing embroidery.
Friar Giroflée (jee-roh-FLAY), a discontented friar who falls in love with Paquette during her travels and leaves his order for her sake. Befriended by Candide, he joins the colony on Candide’s farm and turns carpenter.
The old woman
The old woman, Cunegonde’s servant. She relates that she was once a beautiful princess, the daughter of the Princess Palestrina and a fictional pope, Urban X. The splendid life she expects is lost when she is captured by Moroccan pirates and condemned to a hard life as a slave. She clings to Cunegonde and Candide and settles with them on Candide’s farm.
Cacambo (kah-KAHM-boh), Candide’s servant. Separated from Candide in South America, he turns up later in Venice as a slave belonging to the deposed Sultan Achmet III. Through Cacambo’s intercession, Candide and his party are allowed to visit Turkey.
A contented old man
A contented old man, who has learned that hard work and minding one’s own business are the best means to happiness. He avoids boredom, vice, and need by working a twenty-acre farm. Following his advice, Candide settles with his friends on a farm of his own.