Candide

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Cunégonde Character Analysis

A beautiful young woman, daughter of the Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh. She is pursued by Candide throughout the novel, during which time she passes into the possession of a long sequence of men: the Bulgarian Captain, Don Issachar, the Grand Inquisitor, Don Fernando, and others. Cunégonde is a symbol for the futility of human desires: she is always out of Candide's reach, and once she is no longer, her beauty is gone. Her name is considered, by some scholars, to be a pun on the words for female genitals in French and Latin.

Cunégonde Quotes in Candide

The Candide quotes below are all either spoken by Cunégonde or refer to Cunégonde. For each quote, you can also see the other characters and themes related to it (each theme is indicated by its own dot and icon, like this one:
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
). Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Candide published in 1991.
Chapter 8 Quotes

“For my part, I have so far held out against both, and I verily believe that this is the reason why I am still beloved.”

Related Characters: Cunégonde (speaker), The Grand Inquisitor, Don Issachar
Page Number: 18
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, we learn that the beautiful Cunegonde has been captured by authorities in Lisbon and exploited for her sexuality. She's the property of a wealthy Jewish man named don Issachar, who quarrels with the leading religious authority in the land, the Grand Inquisitor: they both want to have sex with Cunegonde. In the end, they agree to share her, though Cunegonde insists that she's "held out" against them.

This passage is searingly critical in the way that it depicts religious authorities and "pillars of society" as brutal rapists who want to own women, in spite of the prohibitions against sex in their religion. In a strange way, the passage comes across as a defense of racial and religious diversity, albeit with the cynical twist. There's no use claiming that the Jews are inferior to the Christians, or that the Jews are hopelessly corrupt and sexually dangerous, Voltaire implies: the truth is that all human beings are equally evil and predatory. Much like Candide preserving his innocence in the face of the world's corruption, Cunegonde's ability to "hold out" sexually against her owners signals her virtue, whatever virtue is worth.

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Chapter 13 Quotes

They landed at Buenos Ayres. Cunegonde, Captain Candide, and the old woman, waited on the Governor, Don Fernando d'Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza. This nobleman had a stateliness becoming a person who bore so many names. He spoke to men with so noble a disdain, carried his nose so loftily, raised his voice so unmercifully, assumed so imperious an air, and stalked with such intolerable pride, that those who saluted him were strongly inclined to give him a good drubbing.

Related Characters: Candide, Cunégonde, The Old Woman, Governor Don Fernando d'Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampourdos, y Souza
Page Number: 30
Explanation and Analysis:

In this amusing passage, we're introduced to a new character, the Governor Don Fernando d'Ibarra-- his long name is a parody of aristocratic privilege and pedigree. The Governor is a conceited man who knows full-well that he's a powerful aristocrat with the title to prove it. Voltaire notes the superficiality of the Governor's superiority: something as silly as a name signifies his power, and in fact, is his power. Furthermore, Voltaire satirizes the pretensions of the aristocratic elite by noting that the Governor deserved a "drubbing" (i.e., a smack to the head). The Governor isn't anything special--he's not very smart, strong, attractive, etc., and indeed, all he has going for himself is his name and title. Voltaire, a true Enlightenment hero, distrusts the idea that we should respect aristocrats because of their genealogy.

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Cunégonde Character Timeline in Candide

The timeline below shows where the character Cunégonde appears in Candide. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Chapter 1
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
One day Cunégonde, daughter of the Baron, happens upon Pangloss having sex with Paquette, a chambermaid. Intrigued, she... (full context)
Chapter 7
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
...veiled woman to him from the upstairs room. When Candide removes the veil, he finds Cunégonde is under it: the two faint with joy and surprise. Cunégonde explains that she survived... (full context)
Chapter 8
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
After Candide finishes telling his story, Cunégonde tells Candide what has happened to her. When the attack on Thunder-ten-tronckh took place, she... (full context)
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
The Bulgarian Captain sold Cunégonde to Don Issachar, a Jew, who took her to live in his country house—the very... (full context)
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
On the day of the auto-da-fé, the Grand Inquisitor brought Cunégonde to watch. When she saw Pangloss executed and Candide whipped, she cried out in horror.... (full context)
Chapter 9
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Cursing aloud at Cunégonde, Don Issachar draws his knife and throws himself at Candide, who quickly kills him. Two... (full context)
Chapter 10
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
During his escape, Candide learns that Cunégonde's jewels and money—given to her by the Grand Inquisitor—have been stolen by a friar. Though... (full context)
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Candide, Cunégonde, and the old woman arrive at Cadiz, where a military company is being mustered by... (full context)
Chapter 11
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Challenged by Cunégonde on which one of them has suffered more, the old woman tells the sorrowful story... (full context)
Chapter 12
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
...love it, and continue in our struggles against death and pain. She tells Candide and Cunégonde that if they can find a single passenger on the ship who has lived without... (full context)
Chapter 13
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
Upon arriving in Buenos Aires, Candide and Cunégonde are brought to meet Don Fernando, the Governor. Don Fernando takes a clear interest in... (full context)
Wealth Theme Icon
...the murder of the Grand Inquisitor. The Alcade learned of the whereabouts of Candide and Cunégonde through the friar who stole their jewels and money in Spain. The old woman advises... (full context)
Chapter 14
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
...to see him. The Commandant turns out to be the former young Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh, Cunégonde's brother, previously thought dead. Candide and the young baron have a tearful reunion. (full context)
Chapter 15
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
The Commandant expresses the hope that he and Candide might be able to rescue Cunégonde from the clutches of Don Fernando. Candide agrees, mentioning that he wishes to marry her.... (full context)
Chapter 19
Love and Women Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
Upon his arrival in Suriname, Candide learns that Cunégonde has become Don Fernando's favorite mistress. He is upset, but plans to get her back... (full context)
Chapter 20
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
...the recovery of the red sheep as an omen that he will be reunited with Cunégonde. (full context)
Chapter 22
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
...the story of his adventures. The Abbé asks if Candide has received any letters from Cunégonde, and he replies that he has not. The very next day, a letter arrives from... (full context)
Chapter 24
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
Arriving with Martin in Venice, Candide is disappointed not to immediately find Cunégonde. Martin believes that Cacambo has run off with the money, and that Candide has been... (full context)
Chapter 27
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
...arranges for Candide and Martin to be taken on a ship headed for Constantinople, where Cunégonde is a dishwasher and has lost her beauty. Candide and Martin debate whether or not... (full context)
Chapter 29
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Finally, Candide, Martin, Pangloss, Cacambo and the Young Baron arrive at the palace where Cunégonde and the old woman work as servants. As Cacambo claimed, Cunégonde has lost all of... (full context)
Conclusion
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Though he no longer wants to marry Cunégonde, the stubbornness of the Young Baron's opposition causes Candide to do it anyway. He has... (full context)
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
Candide, Martin, Pangloss, Cacambo, Cunégonde and the old woman spend their days arguing about the meaning of life. Martin concludes... (full context)