In the book Candide, who is Candide?

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mwestwood eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Candide, the main character, is the vehicle through which Voltaire parodies the philosophy of Optimism promulgated in the time by Gottfried Wilhelm von Liebnitz.  Candide is a naive character who has no wish to leave his beginnings, believing they are the best of the world. But, when he falls in love with Cunegone, he is expelled from the Baron's castle in Westphalia because it is suspected that he is the illegitimate son of the Baron's sister.  Candide travels throughout, much like Everyman, encountering much misfortune along the way.  He is conscripted, beaten, and robbed; he even has to become a criminal in order to survive: 

I'm the kindest man, yet I've already killed three men, and two of them are priests.

Of course, many of Candide's statements parody the von Leibnitz philosophy, demonstrating the absurdity of thinking that the world is all good.  After his many experiences, Candide himself philosophizes, concluding that one must virtually create his own existence:  "Chacun doit cultiver son jardin"--each person must cultivate his own garden; that is, make his own way in life.