Candide | Study Guide


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Chapter 8

Course Hero Literature Instructor Russell Jaffe provides an in-depth summary and analysis of Chapter 8 of Voltaire's novella Candide.

Candide | Chapter 8 | Summary



Cunégonde explains that she was indeed stabbed in the side and raped during the Bulgar attack at Thunder-ten-tronckh. She survived only to be taken as a prisoner of war by a Bulgar captain. Growing tired of her, he sold her to a Jew, Don Issacar. Cunégonde's beauty caught the eye of the Grand Inquisitor, who demanded that Don Issacar give the girl to him. Compromising, the two now share both Cunégonde and the property in which she lives.

The Grand Inquisitor is responsible for the auto-da-fé where Candide is flogged and Pangloss hanged. Cunégonde, his guest at the event, is stunned to see her two old friends. She asks her caretaker, the old woman, to heal Candide and bring him to the isolated house, which she does.

Cunégonde finishes her story just as Don Issacar shows up, ready to declare his love once more.


Cunégonde's story illustrates the commonly held attitudes in 18th-century Europe about women and their sexuality. Born into nobility, Cunégonde's rank means nothing after her rape at the hands of the Bulgar soldier. She is subsequently sold from man to man as a housekeeper/whore; when one grows tired of her, there is always someone else waiting in the wings.

Cunégonde's reunion with Candide reminds her of just how much she's lost, namely the love of a good man and her valuable virtue. Candide is her ticket to a better, more moral life, so she tells him she hasn't had sex with either the Grand Inquisitor or Don Issacar. The reader knows this is a lie—why else would these particular men keep her around?—but Candide is gullible enough to believe her.

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