Candide Questions and Answers
by Voltaire

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In Voltaire's Candide, what is the old woman's attitude toward her own suffering and Candide's interpretation of her experiences?

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Voltaire's picaresque satire was intended as an attack upon the philosophical and religious orthodoxies of his time—in particular the Monadology of Gotthold Ephraim Lessing. This classic work of rationalist thought includes his theodicy: the argument that we are living in the best of all possible worlds because its foundation is the ultimate monad, a benevolent God.

In Candide, this optimistic credo is eagerly absorbed by the eponymous, naive picaro and his equally ingenuous beloved, Princess Cunegonde, from her long-winded tutor, Professor Pangloss.

In chapter 10, an old woman had suddenly appeared in the streets of Lisbon to save Candide and Cunegonde from the Grand Inquisitor. En route to Paraguay, Cunegonde despairs of finding a better life after the suffering she has endured and is chided by the old woman: "If you had suffered half what I have, there might be some reason for it." Cunegonde asks if the old woman has been raped by Bulgarians, seen her father and brother murdered, her...

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