Candide

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The Garden Symbol Icon
The garden where Candide and the other remaining characters live at the end of the novel is a symbol for the world as it might be if improved by reason and the philosophy of the Enlightenment. Like Westphalia in the beginning of the novel, it resembles the Garden of Eden, but with some important differences. First of all, the characters are all on equal footing—the Baron is the only character who insists on aristocratic privileges, and he has been sent back to Rome by force. Second of all, practical work and reasoning have become more important than abstract philosophy. This is what Candide communicates when he ignores Pangloss' long rant at the very end of the novel and responds that “we must cultivate our garden.” The egalitarianism and practicality of the garden make it a symbol for a secular, Enlightenment Eden.

The Garden Quotes in Candide

The Candide quotes below all refer to the symbol of The Garden. 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.
Conclusion Quotes

“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.

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“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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