Candide

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Candide Chapter 1 Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Candide is raised in Westphalia, in the castle of the Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh. He is suspected of being the illegitimate nephew of the Baron, but nobody knows for certain. He studies metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology under Professor Pangloss, who teaches that we live in the best of all possible worlds, and further, that Thunder-ten-tronckh is the greatest barony in the world.
The satirical bent of the novel comes across in the mock-German name Thunder-ten-tronckh, and the way the name of Pangloss' field of study parodies philosophic, religious, and scientific fields. The Professor's teachings—a parody of Leibniz's optimism—are flattering to his noble employers, highlighting the link between theology, philosophy and aristocratic power which the Enlightenment sought to undermine.
Themes
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
One day Cunégonde, daughter of the Baron, happens upon Pangloss having sex with Paquette, a chambermaid. Intrigued, she determines to do the same with Candide. Finding Candide behind a screen in the castle, she drops her handkerchief and lets him pick it up. They begin to kiss and caress one another, but are discovered by the Baron, who chases Candide from the “paradise,” of the castle by kicking him repeatedly in the rear end.
Candide's ejection from the “paradise,” of Thunder-ten-tronckh parodies the Biblical Fall. Like Eve, Cunégonde comes across forbidden knowledge (in this case, sex) and shares it, leading to exile. The dropped handkerchief is a parody of courtly romance: it is humorous that this usually polite and chivalrous gesture leads so quickly to kissing and touching.
Themes
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon