Candide | Study Guide


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Chapter 10

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 10 of Voltaire's novella Candide.

Candide | Chapter 10 | Summary



The money and jewels Cunégonde brings with her are stolen, leaving the trio with nothing. Candide notes that Pangloss often showed him how "the things of this world are common to all men, and that everyone has an equal right to them." They sell one of the horses and continue to Cadiz, where troops are preparing to sail to Paraguay to quell a native uprising encouraged by Jesuit priests. Candide demonstrates the military drills he learned while training with the Bulgars and as a result is commissioned as a captain. He, Cunégonde, and the old woman board the ship with their two remaining horses.

They pass the journey by discussing Pangloss's teachings. Candide says that their destination must be the best of all possible worlds because, if he's honest, the one they're leaving kind of stinks. Cunégonde bemoans her fate, and the old woman tells both of them to stop complaining. Their suffering, she says, doesn't even compare to her own.


Candide's comment about all things being common to all men is a direct attack on Jean-Jacques Rousseau's theory that all men are created equal in a state of nature. Rousseau thinks that people are happy and equal when they live by themselves. As societies form, so do feelings of jealousy and inequality. He believes that people are happier when everything is shared and they are equal. Voltaire disagrees, which is why he describes Cunégonde as so distraught when her things are stolen.

Candide's positive outlook is starting to fade. He finally concedes that "this" might not be the best of all possible worlds but refuses to give up on Pangloss's teaching by insisting it must be some other world. His desperation for this to be true is evident when he claims "[t]he sea of this new world is already superior to our European seas." Of course seas are pretty much the same wherever you go. Candide, in his deluded optimism, chooses to overlook that fact.

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