Candide

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Candide Conclusion Summary & Analysis

Summary
Analysis
Though he no longer wants to marry Cunégonde, the stubbornness of the Young Baron's opposition causes Candide to do it anyway. He has the Baron sent back to the Jesuits in Rome. Afterwards, he purchases and lives on a small farm with Cunégonde, Cacambo, Pangloss, Martin, and the old woman. Though they are at last reunited, they are all unhappy: their dreams and desires for life have been dashed. Day after day, they watch boats filled with exiled royalty passing by their window.
In the first chapter, the old Baron sends Candide away. In this chapter, Candide sends the new Baron away. This symbolizes the eventual triumph of the Enlightenment and reason over traditional customs and structures of power. By surrounding the characters with other unfortunates—like the exiled royals—the novel makes the point that misfortune is not unique, but is in fact a common feature of human life.
Themes
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Love and Women Theme Icon
Candide, Martin, Pangloss, Cacambo, Cunégonde and the old woman spend their days arguing about the meaning of life. Martin concludes that there are only two possible destinies for human beings: to sit around doing nothing, filled with disgust, or to live with unsettling and constant change.
Now that the characters have finished their painful adventures, they distract themselves with talking. The two alternatives Martin proposes are exactly those that the characters have lived: chaos in their adventures, followed by disgust and idleness on the farm.
Themes
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
Paquette and Giroflée arrive at the farm. They have wasted all the money Candide gave them, and are no happier than they were before: once again, Martin has been proven correct.
This is the novel's final dismissal of wealth as a means of achieving happiness, a recurrent theme in previous chapters.
Themes
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
Wealth Theme Icon
Hoping to resolve their endless philosophical debates, Candide and the other remaining characters visit a wise Dervish. Using Pangloss as a spokesperson, they ask the Dervish why man was made, and why there is evil in the world. The Dervish asks them why such questions are their business, and makes an enigmatic analogy to the discomfort of mice on a royal ship: what does the King care about how the mice are feeling? With that, he shuts the door in their faces.
The refusal of the Dervish to debate with Pangloss and the others suggests the uselessness of philosophy. His analogy about the mice implies that God is indifferent to the happiness of mankind, just as the King is indifferent to the happiness of the mice on his ship.
Themes
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon
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Later, Candide, Martin and Pangloss meet a local farmer, who invites them into his house for a meal. They start talking to him about the execution of a few Viziers in Constantinople, but he has not heard: his only concern is maintaining his farm, which he claims saves his family from “weariness, vice, and want.” Pangloss, Martin and Candide all come to the conclusion that working hard is the only way to make life tolerable. They agree that man is not born for idleness. Pangloss continues to philosophize about the “best of all possible worlds,” but Candide is no longer interested. “All that is very well,” he answers, “but let us cultivate our garden.”
The example of the local farmer, voluntarily withdrawn from the world and hard at work with his family, is a powerful counter image to the dozens of nobles and “great,” people in the novel who have fallen on hard times and cannot stop complaining about it.In the end, Candide concludes that using reason and hard work to improve the world and our lives—what is meant by cultivating our garden—is more useful and fulfilling than dreaming or arguing about what makes up the “best of all possible worlds,” and pursuing the endless questions of theology and philosophy.
Themes
Optimism and Disillusion Theme Icon
The Enlightenment and Social Criticism Theme Icon
Religion and Philosophy vs. The World Theme Icon