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Reading Questions for Voltaire's Candide
auto-da-fé, Deism, Enlightenment, Manichée,
noble savage, nom
What is Voltaire's real name? How is his work a reaction to the ideas of Alexander
Pope in An Essay on Man?
Lecture or Handouts:
Identify the following characters and
places: Candide, Cunegonde, Pangloss, James
the Anabaptist, Martin, Captain Vanderdendur, Abbé
of Perigard, Cacambo, the two native
in love with an "ape," Isachar the Jew, Thunder-ten
Candide, Cunegonde, Paquette, Martin,
Dr. Pangloss, Vanderdendur, Abbé of Perigard
- Chapter I:
- Where did Candide grow up?
- How is the Baron characterized in the opening chapters?
What kind of guy is he?
- What does Dr. Pangloss have a degree in?
- What "evidence" does Pangloss present that the world
is designed with the good of mankind in mind?
- What does Voltaire mean when he states that Pangloss
was engaged with the servant girl (Paquette) in experiments
in natural philosophy? What is natural philosophy?
- Why is Candide kicked out of the castle?
- Chapter II:
- How does Candide end up joining the Bulgarian army?
- After Candide tries to go AWOL, how do his officers
respond when Candide argues in favor of free will and
- Chapter III
- After the bloody stalemate, the two armies each pause
and sing the Te Deum in their respective camps. What
is the Te Deum? What's the irony in this situation?
- James we discover is an Anabaptist. What is an Anabaptist?
- In the next-to-last paragraph of this chapter, right
after Candide reasserts Pangloss' adage about
the world being "all for the best," who does he encounter?
- Chapter IV
- What is the identity of the diseased wretch in this
- What news does Pangloss have of Cunegonde? How does
- From what disease is Pangloss suffering? From whom
did he contract this illness?
- Look at the "genealogy" of the disease. What is humorous
about the vectors who transmitted it across the ages?
Additionally, how is this a satire on ideas of noble
- What is Pangloss' argument to "prove" the disease is
necessary and right? According to him, what would we
not have if we didn't have syphilis?
- What is Pangloss' argument to "prove" that war is good
- What is James' reaction to Pangloss arguments? Does
- Note that Pangloss is now "one-eyed" in the last two
paragraphs. (Syphillis has eaten his other eye.) What
is the possible symbolism here?
- Right after Pangloss asserts that all private misfortunte
is for the general good, what happens on the ship in
the final paragraph?
- Chapter V:
- How does James die? Why is that ironic?
- How does Pangloss explain the purpose of the Bay of
- When they arrive at Lisbon, Pangloss begins to make
his philosophical arguments about the inherently good
nature of the universe to a stranger dressed in black.
Who does this person turn out to be and why does it get
our heroes in trouble?
- Chapter VI:
- What is an auto-da-fé?
- Why are two other Portugeuse souls going to be killed
along with the hero?
Passages for Identification: Be
able to identify the author, the title, and briefly explain
or context of the passage.
A: In a castle of Westphalia, belonging
to the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, lived a youth,
whom nature had endowed with the most gentle manners.
His countenance was a true picture of his soul.
B: "It is demonstrable," said he, "that
things can- not be otherwise than as they are; for all
being created for an end, all is necessarily for the
best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed
to bear spectacles—thus we have spectacles.
Legs are visibly designed for stockings— and
we have stockings."
C: she took him innocently by the hand, the youth
kissed the young lady's hand with particular vivacity,
sensibility, and grace; their lips met,
their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, their hands
D: There was never anything so gallant, so spruce,
so brilliant, and so well disposed as the
two armies. Trumpets, fifes, hautboys, drums, and cannon
made music such as Hell itself had never heard. The cannons
first of all laid flat about six thousand men on each side;
the muskets swept away from this best of worlds nine or
ten thousand ruffians who infested its surface. The
bayonet was also a sufficient reason for the death of several
The whole might amount to thirty thousand souls . . . .
At length, the two kings [caused] the Te Deum to
be sung each in his own camp,
E: You remember Paquette, that pretty
wench who waited on our noble Baroness; in her arms
I tasted the delights of paradise, which produced
in me those hell torments with which you see me
devoured; she was infected with them, she
is perhaps dead of them. This present Paquette received
of a learned Grey Friar, who had traced it to its source;
he had had it of an old countess, who had received
a cavalry captain, who owed it to a marchioness, who took
it from a page, who had received it
from a Jesuit, who when a novice had it in a direct line
from one of the companions of Christopher Columbus.
Food for Thought:
One critic has stated that, in the opening chapters, Candide
lives in a "false paradise of Panglossian self-delusion."
What do you think the critic means by this? How is Candide's
condition better or worse by the end of the tale?