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Candide | Chapter 23 | Summary

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Summary

Candide and Martin land in England, but before they can disembark from the ship they see a man executed by 12 bullets to the head. He is an English admiral, punished for not "engag[ing] closely enough with the enemy." The two travelers are told that "in this country it is considered useful now and again to shoot an admiral, to encourage the others to fight."

Candide now refuses "even to set foot on English soil," arranging to be taken directly to Venice in two days' time. When he and Martin arrive, Candide is excited at the prospect of seeing Cunégonde again.

Analysis

Voltaire very much enjoyed the two years he spent exiled in England, particularly the nation's acceptance of freethinking. While there he made the acquaintance of Admiral John Byng, whose execution he describes Candide witnessing. Candide's decision to stay on the boat shows Voltaire's disillusionment with his home away from home.

Candide, too, is discouraged by what he sees in England. Though he grows more hopeful the closer they get to Venice, he hasn't regained all of the optimism he had at the beginning of his travels. He has seen "the best of all possible worlds" in El Dorado and knows no other place can match it. That's why he tells Martin, "all goes as well as it possibly can."

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