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Candide | Chapter 22 | Summary

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Summary

Candide and Martin immediately head to Paris upon arrival in France. Candide becomes ill, but rumors of his wealth earn him two doctors and several overly attentive friends, none of whom he actually wants. As Candide grows sicker, the priest of the local parish tries to get him to sign a note of confession. Martin throws the priest out of his hotel, causing a scandal.

Recovering, Candide makes friends with an abbé (a low-ranking Catholic member of the clergy), "one of those assiduous types, alert, endlessly obliging, impudent, fawning, adaptable." He takes Candide and Martin to the theater, where they meet a tart-tongued journalist/theater critic. The abbé later introduces them to the Marquise de Parolignac. She runs a gambling saloon in her home, where Candide loses quite a bit of money. Later she takes Candide to bed and steals his two diamond rings.

Candide feels bad about cheating on Cunégonde. The abbé is also glum because he didn't extort as much money from Candide as he had hoped to. He questions Candide extensively about Cunégonde. The next day Candide receives a letter from his beloved saying that she is in Paris and very ill. He rushes to her hotel, but her maid won't allow Candide to actually look at her. A police officer arrives and tries to arrest Candide and Martin for being foreigners. Martin realizes this is all a ruse to get Candide's remaining jewels and gold. Candide gives the officer three small diamonds, and it is arranged that the officer's brother will take Candide and Martin to Portsmouth, England.

Analysis

Voltaire considers himself a Parisian, but his inflammatory essays railing against the French government and the church earn him few friends. This situation, combined with the failure of several of his plays, make Paris most unwelcoming. Candide, too, feels disillusioned and disappointed as his stay in Paris comes to an end. What has seemed to be a mecca of culture and class turns out to be a haven for liars and charlatans who will do anything to part a naive young man from his money.

Voltaire's annoyance with Parisian society is no more evident than in Candide's conversation with "that fat pig who was so critical of the play." Voltaire describes the man as a Fréron, referring to Elie-Catherine Fréron, a journalist who opposed Enlightenment philosophers and severely criticized Voltaire's plays. Candide's theater companion likes nothing—the actors are terrible, the play is poorly written, and the author has no idea what he's doing. His manner and outward disgust for everyone and everything makes Candide (and the reader) think he's the worst man alive. Voltaire undoubtedly does, too.

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