Candide Character Analysis

First published by Voltaire on the year 1759, Candide depicts a story of a young man who was taught to believe in a world full of optimism, as what his mentor Pangloss, used to teach him. Living in a state of naivety, he eventually went out into the world after experiencing a series of misfortunes which left him from one miserable state into another.

Throughout the course of the story, Candide remains an optimist while believing that everything happens for the best reason as he struggles to be reunited with Cunégonde, the love of his life.

Candide was later on portrayed in operas and has since then made quite a name and controversy in the world of literature. The different main characters portray their own personalities, which make the story highly interesting, fast-moving and full of lessons.

An In-depth Analysis of the Following Characters:

Candide.

Also known as “innocence”, Candide is a young man full of optimism. He grows up believing that he is always at the right place and at the perfect time, according to the philosophies he had learned from Pangloss.

During the early stages of the story, he was banished from the castle after his affair with Cunégonde was discovered. He was then thrown into a series of unfortunate circumstances which eventually transformed him into a practical and realistic young man. There are certain events in Candide’s life which made him rethink about Pangloss’ philosophies.

He learned that not all events are as positive as they seem. Some instances forced him to commit evil ways in order to save himself.

Pangloss.

He is the philosopher who taught Candide that the world functions best for everyone. At the start of the novel, he is a firm devotee of optimism, which is highly evident in his teachings and beliefs. However, he also experiences a series of adversities after contracting syphilis and narrowly escaping death, to which he still propagates his views that “everything is meant to happen for everyone.”

Towards the later part of the story, he quietly admits to himself the flaws of his beliefs but is still unable to admit this outright to everyone around him.

Martin.

An opposite of Pangloss, Martin is a pessimist. He believes that people act according to their primal instinct, which is self-preservation to the point of doing wrong. Martin is good at predicting how people would behave based on his own previous experiences.

There were some obvious flaws in his beliefs after Cacambo’s honesty and goodness proved his theories wrong. He was later on seen as a frequent companion of Candide in his travels.

Cunégonde.

Candide’s love interest, Cunégonde, is a very beautiful woman who has her own share of admirers. She suffers a series of painful experiences, after being raped, and sold to different men as a mistress. Quite materialistic in her own ways, she suffers from the painful pangs of questioning Pangloss’ beliefs, as she suffers one misfortune after the other.

Towards the end of the story, she met Candide. But all her beauty was gone and she was left in a wrinkled state and a wounded character tainted by all her hardships and tribulations.

Cacambo.

Not really a major character in the story, Cacambo works for Candide while he was in Latin America. He is a realist, who, due to some luck or presence in favorable circumstances, eventually suffers from less misfortunes compared to the others. Being a valet of Candide and the man he trusted to fetch Cunégonde,he is a man who does not believe in philosophies but only rely on his own mission to be morally honest and reliable in his dealings.

Secondary Characters

  • The baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh
  • The Old Lady
  • Jacques (the Anabaptist)
  • The farmer
  • Count Pococurante
  • Brother Giroflée
  • Don Issachar
  • Don Fernando d’Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes y Lampourdos y Souza
  • Vanderdendur
  • The Marquise of Parolignac

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