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Note: all page and citation info for the quotes below refers to the Dover Publications edition of Candide published in 1991.
Chapter 1 Quotes

“It is demonstrable," said he, "that things cannot 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. Stones were made to be hewn, and to construct castles—therefore my lord has a magnificent castle; for the greatest baron in the province ought to be the best lodged. Pigs were made to be eaten—therefore we eat pork all the year round. Consequently they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing, they should have said all is for the best.”

Related Characters: Pangloss (speaker)
Page Number: 1-2
Explanation and Analysis:

In the opening pages of the novel, we're introduced to two of its main characters: Professor Pangloss and his pupil Candide. Candide is a classic "blank slate" narrator: he just soaks up information and experience. Here, for example, he learns from his professor that the world consists of everything that is the case; furthermore, the fact that everything in the world "fits together" (like a nose and spectacles) and was presumably created by a just God proves that the world is the best it can possibly be. Every event has a cause, and the ultimate result of any event must be happy in the end. In short, Pangloss believes that everything happens "for the best."

The passage is, needless to say, illogical and backwards, a parody of the optimism of Voltaire's contemporaries. Voltaire satirizes the famous "argument from design"--the idea that the world "fits together" and therefore must have been made by a benevolent God. But the examples that Voltaire puts in Pangloss's mouth prove that he doesn't take the argument from design very seriously: we all know that the nose wasn't formed to bear spectacles; it's the other way around. Humans haven't been given their place in the universe; rather, they've actively manipulated their environments to produce a comfortable world to live in (just as humans invented spectacles to fit on the nose).

The passage is a satire of religion and religious optimism in all its forms. There were many religious fanatics in Voltaire's lifetime who believed that everything was a blessing from God--even events that seemed tragic. Even the philosopher Leibnitz wasn't immune to this logic, and argued that evil is meant to produce good (i.e., everything happens for the best).


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Chapter 2 Quotes

Candide, all stupefied, could not yet very well realize how he was a hero. He resolved one fine day in spring to go for a walk, marching straight before him, believing that it was a privilege of the human as well as of the animal species to make use of their legs as they pleased.

Related Characters: Candide
Page Number: 4
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide is captured by soldiers and forced to learn military exercises until he becomes a talented soldier. Candide is bewildered the entire time: he's a passive character who'll do whatever the people around him order him to do. One day, Candide cheerfully walks away from the military base where he's been staying, reasoning that it's his right to walk wherever he pleases. Little does Candide realize that he's convinced the soldiers that he's trying to desert--as a result, he's arrested.

The passage is a good example of Candide's "blank slate" quality. More often than not, Candide is "stupefied" by the people around him: he's so innocent and pure that he can barely be said to have a personality. And yet Candide is also the embodiment of the human right to be free: he just walks "wherever his legs will carry him," satirically showing how oppressive it is for any institution or authority (like the military) to limit this most basic of human instincts.

Chapter 3 Quotes

“My friend,” said the orator to him, “do you believe the Pope to be Anti-Christ?”
“I have not heard it,” answered Candide; “but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread.”

Related Characters: Candide (speaker), The Protestant Orator (speaker)
Page Number: 6
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide stumbles upon a group of pious Protestants. The Protestants ask Candide to admit that the Pope is a villain--the Antichrist, in fact. Candide, who barely knows where he is or who his new "friends" are, replies that he doesn't particularly care about the Pope; he just wants some food.

The passage is often interpreted as a satire of the schism between the Protestants and the Catholics that arose during and after the life of Martin Luther. For more than 1000 years, Christianity in the West was generally unified and uniform; however, in the late Middle Ages, a group of Christians called the Protestants rebelled against the Christian (or Catholic) church for what it perceived as the corruption of religious leadership. The schism prompted hundreds of years of radical, bloody warfare throughout "civilized" Europe, prompting many intellectuals, including Voltaire, to point out how absurd the schism really was: why argue over Gods and Popes when people are going hungry? The passage is also a good example of Candide's boundless innocence: he just wants to eat, sleep, and be happy. At times, Voltaire makes fun of Candide's simplicity, and yet he seems to see virtue in Candide's down-to-earth nature: Candide could never be seduced by religious fanaticism.

Chapter 4 Quotes

“Alas!” said the other, “it was love; love, the comfort of the human species, the preserver of the universe, the soul of all sensible beings, love, tender love.”

Related Characters: Pangloss (speaker)
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

In this darkly comic passage, Candide reunites with his old professor, Pangloss, who's caught syphilis. Candide, who's used to thinking of Pangloss as a cheerful, happy-go-lucky fellow, is shocked to see his old teacher looking so miserable. He asks Pangloss how he's come to catch such a horrible disease, and Pangloss sheepishly admits that he caught the disease because of "love" (he had sex with a chambermaid).

The passage is funny because previously, Pangloss had spoken of love in a lofty, abstract way: he'd claimed that love holds the universe together. Here, however, Pangloss is talking about a more human, earthly form of love: sex. His syphilis seems to undermine his previous thesis that everything happens for the best: on the contrary, the lofty forces he'd previously extolled, such as love, don't really exist; in their place we have real-world phenomena like sex and, unfortunately, disease. The notion of catching syphilis after sex is a cheeky inversion of Pangloss's old thesis: previously he'd claimed that a moment of sadness will inevitably be replaced by some happiness down the line; here, however, a moment of pleasure is immediately punished by a lifetime of discomfort.

"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 it from 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. For my part I shall give it to nobody, I am dying."

Related Characters: Pangloss (speaker), Paquette
Page Number: 8
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Voltaire satirizes many different things at once. Candide is shocked to hear that Pangloss has contracted syphilis from Paquette, the chambermaid. Pangloss proceeds to list out the "history" of his particular disease, tracing its long genealogy all the way back to Christopher Columbus. The joke is that Pangloss's "genealogy" is a parody of people claiming nobility or greatness by listing their ancestors, but this list is just one of people passing syphilis on to each other. Furthermore, in the "genealogy" Voltaire brings down the institutions and members of the clergy, the aristocracy, and the military to Pangloss's level as well--they're all just humans and human ideas, passing around human diseases, despite all their wealth and pretensions.

“It is more likely,” said he, “mankind have a little corrupted nature, for they were not born wolves, and they have become wolves; God has given them neither cannon of four-and-twenty pounders, nor bayonets; and yet they have made cannon and bayonets to destroy one another. Into this account I might throw not only bankrupts, but Justice which seizes on the effects of bankrupts to cheat the creditors.”

Related Characters: Jacques the Anabaptist (speaker)
Page Number: 9
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Jacques and his companions Pangloss and Candide are traveling to the city of Lisbon. Jacques disagrees with Pangloss and Candide about the nature of good and evil. Jacques insists that evil is real, and that it emanates from human nature. Jacques lists a formidable number of examples, including war (and the various machines of war).

Jacques's reaction to Pangloss's naive optimism could be taken as a more "modern" position on human nature. Many of the Europeans who lived through long, bloody religious wars were forced to conclude that man, quite aside from being inherently virtuous, has the capacity for violence and destruction--how else to explain entire nations ripping each other apart over religious conflict?

Chapter 5 Quotes

“What can be the sufficient reason of this phenomenon?” said Pangloss.
“This is the Last Day!” cried Candide.

Related Characters: Candide (speaker), Pangloss (speaker)
Page Number: 10
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide and Pangloss have just witnessed the famous Lisbon Earthquake, a massive tragedy and one of the key events in religious history. The Lisbon Earthquake went down as a symbol of the unpredictability of the world: Lisbon was regarded as one of the holiest cities on the planet, and yet God seemingly chose to destroy it. Voltaire parodies the naive acceptance of tragedy that followed the earthquake, depicting Pangloss and Candide bickering over the "causes" of the catastrophe (as Candide is buried under wreckage, by the way).

Candide and Pangloss believe that it is important to identify the causes of the earthquake, and conclude that God is judging all of mankind (it's the Biblical "Last Day" of mankind). The point of the scene is that Pangloss and Candide can't accept that today's accident is just a random event, and move past this to actually help the people being hurt. Instead, they feel the universe must have a "plan," and therefore God must have intended the earthquake to happen--and the philosophy behind the earthquake is more important than the individuals affected by it.

Chapter 6 Quotes

“If this is the best of possible worlds, what then are the others?”

Related Characters: Candide (speaker)
Page Number: 13
Explanation and Analysis:

Candide witnesses a sea-change in Lisbon. Following the disaster of the earthquake, the leaders of Lisbon conclude that the only way to avoid another disaster is to please God by persecuting all religious heretics. Innocent people are horribly tortured and killed in order to prove the city's loyalty to God. Candide is horrified by the carnage he witnesses, all the more so because it's done in the name of divinity. He remembers Pangloss's old pronouncement that the world is the best of all possible worlds; he wonders what other worlds could be worse than the one he's living in. Pangloss himself has been sent away to be hanged for his supposed heresy, further reinforcing the foolishness of Pangloss's abstract optimism.

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.

Chapter 11 Quotes

“Our men defended themselves like the Pope's soldiers; they flung themselves upon their knees, and threw down their arms, begging of the corsair an absolution in articulo mortis.”

Related Characters: The Old Woman (speaker)
Page Number: 25
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, an old woman tells us the sad story of her life. She was born into a wealthy family (her father was the Pope--scandalous!) and engaged to be married to a handsome prince. However, her good fortune ended suddenly when a group of dangerous Moroccan pirates captured her at sea. The woman's protectors and guards, agents of the Pope, were of no help--instead of fighting against the pirates to the death, they begged for mercy, a line of defense that, of course, didn't work.

The passage is an interesting example of Voltaire's even-handedness when it comes to depicting other cultures. One could argue that the Moroccans are a racist stereotype ("dangerous" Africans) and yet in a way, the pirates come across as smarter and stronger than the old woman's guards, who are so cowardly and naively faithful in their religion that they'd rather pray for mercy than fight. The passage is also a good example of the meaninglessness of the universe: religion and optimism simply don't have much currency here.

Chapter 12 Quotes

“A hundred times I was upon the point of killing myself; but still I loved life. This ridiculous foible is perhaps one of our most fatal characteristics; for is there anything more absurd than to wish to carry continually a burden which one can always throw down? to detest existence and yet to cling to one's existence? In brief, to caress the serpent which devours us, till he has eaten our very heart?”

Related Characters: The Old Woman (speaker)
Page Number: 29
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, the old woman tells us more about her life story. After being kidnapped by pirates, the old woman endured horrible torture. Throughout all her tortures, however, she clung on to life itself: although she could have killed herself in any number of easy ways, she preferred to stay alive, hoping that things would get better somehow. The woman notices the odd (though extremely common) reasoning of her choice: she could have relieved herself of all pain through suicide, and yet she preferred life, even a harsh, painful life.

The passage is one of the best examples of how optimism and naive hope aren't wholly bad or useless. Voltaire makes fun of Pangloss for his naive belief in the goodness of the world, and yet it's hard to disagree with the woman's actions in this passage. As "rational" as it would be to end her own life, the woman decides to have hope and carry on. Perhaps human beings are hard-wired for the kind of naive optimism the woman embodies: which means that we survive because we can delude ourselves into thinking that everything happens for the best.

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.

Chapter 14 Quotes

“You'll make a prodigious fortune; if we cannot find our account in one world we shall in another. It is a great pleasure to see and do new things.”

Related Characters: Cacambo (speaker), Candide
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide travels with the valet Cacambo, a native-born Peruvian who tells Candide he'll take him to the land of the Jesuits, who rule over the people of Paraguay with an iron fist. Cacambo is very different from Candide, though they have a few things in common: Cacambo, like Candide, is highly optimistic, and yet where Candide is still (relatively) inexperienced and naive, Cacambo is confident and well-traveled; he knows where to find things. His thesis that "it is a great pleasure to see and do new things" could be taken as Candide's motto: Candide wanders all over the world, always taking a vague, naive pleasure in the new places he sees. Notice that Cacambo believes in the possibility of multiple worlds; it's because he doesn't just accept the existence of one world (like Pangloss) that he's always trying to find new places to explore. Pangloss is the armchair theoretician; Cacambo is the empiricist.

“It is an admirable government. The kingdom is upwards of three hundred leagues in diameter, and divided into thirty provinces; there the Fathers possess all, and the people nothing; it is a masterpiece of reason and justice.”

Related Characters: Cacambo (speaker)
Page Number: 32
Explanation and Analysis:

Cacambo tells Candide about the land of the Jesuits in Paraguay. Although Cacambo seems to find the Jesuits' kingdom admirable in every way, he describes it in such a sense that it's obvious to us that the kingdom is a tyranny. Cacambo claims that the Jesuit leadership has stripped the natives of all their property, all in the name of religion. The Jesuits claim to use their intelligence and authority to run their territory with "reason and justice," but based on everything about religion and reason we've seen in the novel so far, we can be pretty sure that the Jesuits' government isn't all that reasonable or just.

Chapter 15 Quotes

“Reverend Father, all the quarterings in the world signify nothing; I rescued your sister from the arms of a Jew and of an Inquisitor; she has great obligations to me, she wishes to marry me; Master Pangloss always told me that all men are equal, and certainly I will marry her.”

Related Characters: Candide (speaker), Pangloss, The Young Baron
Page Number: 36
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide prepares to rescue Cunegonde from the hands of her "owner," Don Fernando. Candide offhandedly mentions that he hopes to marry Cunegonde one day, a statement that Cunegonde's brother, the Young Baron, finds absurd. The Young Baron insists that Candide is not nobly born, and therefore not worthy to marry an aristocratic lady like his sister. Candide replies that he's always been taught that all men are created equal; therefore, he's a perfectly suitable match for Cunegonde.

The passage is an interesting example of how Candide, in spite of his naivete and occasional foolishness, has some pretty good ideas (and Voltaire just uses Candide's naïveté to show the badideas human society has come up with). Candide thinks this is the best of all possible worlds, an idea that Voltaire clearly finds laughable, and yet he also believes in a classic Enlightenment tenet: all men are equal (an idea that Voltaire believes whole-heartedly).The Young Baron comes across as a comically irate, conceited character, so obsessed with genealogy and blood that he hesitates to save his own sister from capture (capture from the eminently aristocratic Don Fernando, by the way).

Chapter 16 Quotes

“A Jesuit! a Jesuit! we shall be revenged, we shall have excellent cheer, let us eat the Jesuit, let us eat him up!”

Page Number: 38
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide and Cacambo run into some trouble. They shoot a pair of monkeys during their walk through the forest, only to learn that they've accidentally shot two partly-human figures who were lovers to two of the native women. Candide and Cacambo are promptly tied up and prepared for eating: the natives are going to enact their revenge by eating their "Jesuit" prisoners alive.

A couple things here. First, it bears noting that the passage reflects Voltaire's racist views of non-Europeans (there seems to be some idea here that "natives" are partly monkey). And yet as before, Voltaire's racism and stereotyping is somewhat mitigated by the near universality of his criticism: Candide and Cacambo, as representatives of the European order, come across as clueless about the real world. Furthermore, the passage reminds us of all the pent-up hatred the natives reserve for their Jesuit oppressors (clearly, the Jesuits have just been starving their subjects, rather than leading by reason, justice, and Christian ideals). Cacambo and Candide don't really understand native culture, and in return, the natives misinterpret Cacambo and Candide's identities, mistaking them for Jesuits.

Chapter 18 Quotes

“...but being surrounded by inaccessible rocks and precipices, we have hitherto been sheltered from the rapaciousness of European nations, who have an inconceivable passion for the pebbles and dirt of our land, for the sake of which they would murder us to the last man.”

Related Characters: The Old Man of El Dorado (speaker)
Related Symbols: El Dorado
Page Number: 43
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide and Cacambo come to the land of El Dorado, where they meet an elderly man who tells them about his home. In El Dorado, he explains, there is gold everywhere. Luckily, El Dorado is located in a remote area far from European explorers, who are hungry for the gold, which the people of El Dorado treat like mere rock or soil.

The point of the passage seems to be that one man's trash is another man's treasure: the Europeans crave gold (a completely useless, strictly ornamental thing) while the people of El Dorado are indifferent to it. Voltaire comes across as a cultural relativist here: so much of what culture believes in is just idle superstition (for example, the idea that gold is valuable and should be fought for). Traveling the world, one notices the arbitrariness of certain cultural norms, and Candide's travels seem to give him some sense for the comic futility of Europe's search for riches in the New World.

Chapter 19 Quotes

“What is this optimism?” said Cacambo.
“Alas!” said Candide, “it is the madness of maintaining that everything is right when it is wrong.”

Related Characters: Candide (speaker), Cacambo (speaker)
Page Number: 49
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide and Cacambo, bearing gifts of gold, come across a poor African slave who's missing a limb. Candide is so moved by the slave's pain--he's spent his entire life serving others and being abused by them--that he briefly gives up on optimism itself. Candide has always believed that everything bad happens for a good reason. Here, however, he starts to see how silly his optimism really is: as he tells Cacambo, optimism is just a way to "spin" bad things as good things.

During Voltaire's lifetime, the slave trade boomed, after centuries of existing on a much smaller scale. The discovery of the New World led to the need for cheap (or free) labor--hence the vital importance of African slaves. Slaves were treated horribly, and never saw any of the wealth they mined from the ground. The spectacle of so many humans being mistreated would have been enough to make a pessimist of anybody--even Candide the eternal optimist.

Chapter 20 Quotes

“...but I own to you that when I cast an eye on this globe, or rather on this little ball, I cannot help thinking that God has abandoned it to some malignant being.”

Related Characters: Martin (speaker)
Page Number: 52
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide and the scholar Martin, his new associate, debate about the essential goodness of the world. While Candide continues to maintain that the world can be a good place (in spite of all the horror he's witnessed during his travels), Martin takes a different position, arguing that the world may have been created by God, but it has lately been in the hands of a devil of some kind.

The passage shows a different kind of position than the ones we've read about so far: Martin doesn't believe that the universe is a totally random, chaotic place, but neither does he believe that the world is uniformly good. His position is relatively close to the doctrine of Deism, which maintains that God created the world but now lets it run itself, like a great cosmic clock.

Chapter 25 Quotes

“But is there not a pleasure,” said Candide “ in criticizing everything, in pointing out faults where others see nothing but beauties?”
“That is to say,” replied Martin, “that there is some pleasure in having no pleasure.”

Related Characters: Candide (speaker), Martin (speaker)
Page Number: 73
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Candide and his friend Martin come to the house of the powerful SenatorPococuranté, who lives in great luxury.Pococuranté is, however, an unhappy man--he criticizes all his worldly possessions, and seems to despise everything about his life. Where Martin, who's more cynical than Candide, claims that the Senator must be unhappy, through and through, Candide--ever the optimist--claims that the Senator must get some kind of pleasure out of being so dissatisfied. Candide eventually comes to the odd conclusion that it's possible to be happy about having nothing to be happy about.

The notion that it's possible to be happy in one's misery is actually an age-old tenet of Christian literature, dating back at least to Saint Augustine's Confessions. The passage also alludes to an earlier quote, in which the Old Woman wonders aloud why she didn't kill herself while in the depths of misery. It would seem that there's something about being alive, in and of itself, thats pleasurable, even if every facet of that life is sad.

Conclusion Quotes

“What signifies it," said the Dervish, "whether there be evil or good? When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?”

Related Characters: The Dervish (speaker)
Page Number: 85
Explanation and Analysis:

In this enigmatic passage, Candide comes to an old Dervish (a Turkish holy man) and asks him for help achieving enlightenment. The Dervish doesn't give Candide the information he was hoping for; instead, the Dervish irritably tells Candide to mind his own business. There's no point in hunting for meaning in the world; the fact that God made the world doesn't mean that the world must have meaning. The Dervish clarifies his argument with an analogy: the man who builds a ship and sends the ship across the ocean doesn't care about the mice that live onboard the ship, and certainly hasn't built the ship to accommodate the mice's needs.

The passage is an amusing refutation of the argument from design: the Dervish, quite aside from arguing that the world is built "for" human beings, claims that the universe (God, the Almighty, etc.) is basically indifferent to human beings' suffering. If there is a God, it's unlikely he cares about human beings (instead, he thinks of them like mice)--the Christian idea that God made the world "for" mankind is, in the Dervish's opinion (and probably Voltaire's, too) arrogant nonsense.

“I have only twenty acres,” replied the old man; “I and my children cultivate them; our labour preserves us from three great evils—weariness, vice, and want.”

Related Characters: The Old Turkish Man (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 86
Explanation and Analysis:

After a novel's worth of traveling and debating, the characters reach an old Turkish Man who works hard on a farm with his children. The Turkish Man represents, arguably, the closest thing in the novel to enlightenment or peace. Instead of sitting around like Professor Pangloss and debating the causes and meaning of the universe, the Turkish Man works on his property. If there is a path to happiness and peace, it's implied, that path consists of a lot of hard, real-world work.

The passage might as well be a moral for Voltaire's book. Unlike the religious scholars in the pre-Enlightenment era, Voltaire doesn't believe that we should kick back and wait for God to take care of everything (or, following the same twisted logic, embrace every single thing that happens as "God's will"). Instead, we should actively try to change the world and improve it on our own: humans are the architects of their own world, not God.

“You are right,” said Pangloss, “for when man was first placed in the Garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum, that he might cultivate it; which shows that man was not born to be idle.”

Related Characters: Pangloss (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

In this passage, Professor Pangloss responds to the example set by the Old Turkish man, who has just finished explaining the importance of work and labor. Pangloss, despite spending most of the book blindly blessing every event as "God's will," immediately converts to the Old Man's point of view and now claims that it's important to work in the real world, rather than trusting in divine providence.

Why does Pangloss change his mind so quickly? Perhaps the passage is meant to show that Pangloss is just a follower, easily convinced of any point of view, provided that he can find Biblical (or philosophical) justification for it. In a way, the passage is one of the most prophetic in the novel: it illustrates the way that religious factions can fight and even kill over their beliefs, and yet also change their beliefs at the drop of a hat. (For example, in modern times, Christian leaders openly believe that the Earth revolves around the Sun; 500 years before, their predecessors tried to kill Galileo because he dared to argue this scientific truth. A whole string of Panglosses moved Christianity from one point of view to the other.)

“Let us work,” said Martin, “without disputing; it is the only way to render life tolerable.”

Related Characters: Martin (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

As the novel approaches an ending, each one of the main characters comes to the same conclusion (work hard and embrace the limits of one's life), albeit for different, and highly revealing reasons. While Professor Pangloss concludes that man should work because there's Biblical justification for doing so, Martin comes to the same conclusion because he's a compromiser and a pessimist. Martin seems to believe that the world is full of pain and suffering; it's telling, then, that he claims that working is the "only way" to find happiness in the world. One could argue that Martin is the most pragmatic of the characters: instead of sticking to his guns, he embraces a new point of view because he recognizes its real-world potential.

“All that is very well,” answered Candide, “but let us cultivate our garden.”

Related Characters: Candide (speaker)
Related Symbols: The Garden
Page Number: 87
Explanation and Analysis:

At the end of the novel, everything and nothing has changed. Pangloss continues to philosophize about the "best of all possible worlds," and yet he's now working in a garden, showing that he's willing to get his hands dirty and work for himself, instead of trusting in God that everything will work out for the best. Candide, by contrast, seems to have changed greatly. As the novel began, he was a foolish, naive young man who trusted that everything had a silver lining. Over the course of the book, Candide hasn't entirely lost his optimism, but he has come to see the futility of totally surrendering to "divine providence." The only way to find happiness in the real world is to involve oneself in the real world: thus, Candide resolves to work hard on his garden and trust in his own actions and morals.

The notion of "cultivating our garden" could be taken as a metaphor for the entire Enlightenment project that Voltaire celebrated. Instead of trusting custom and tradition (and thus, religion), Voltaire advocated for secular humanism, according to which all men were created equal, and should be judged by what they achieve in the real world, rather than what their aristocratic ancestors achieved hundreds of years ago. It's for this reason that this quote remains famous and applicable even now, hundreds of years later.

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