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Candide | Quotes

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1.

'It is demonstrable,' he would say, 'that things cannot be other than as they are.'


Pangloss, Chapter 1

Pangloss adheres to Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason. In the end everything works out according to God's plan, so whatever happens is the best possible outcome.

2.

If this is the best of all possible worlds, what must the others be like?


Candide, Chapter 6

Candide is mourning the loss of his tutor and friend, Pangloss, who has just been hanged by the Inquisition. Pangloss promoted a philosophy of optimism in which everything turns out for the best in this, the best of all possible worlds. Yet this situation is so bleak that Candide's own optimism wavers.

3.

A person of honor may be raped once, but her virtue emerges all the stronger for it.


Cunégonde, Chapter 8

Cunégonde tries to convince Candide that although she has been raped once, she is still eligible for marriage. She does not mention all the other rapes she has endured at the hands of the Bulgar Captain, the Grand Inquisitor, and Don Issacar.

4.

Misfortunes confer their own privileges.


Old woman, Chapter 13

The upside of Cunégonde's misfortunes—rape, theft—is that she can't afford to do the right thing and marry Candide. The old woman tells her that no one will blame her for choosing wealth and security over love after all she's been through.

5.

So pleasant it is to be on the move, to get ourselves noticed back home, and to boast of what we have seen on our travels, that our two happy wanderers resolved to be happy no longer.


Narrator, Chapter 18

Candide and Cacambo would rather be wealthy and envied in regular society than be content and just like everyone else in paradise. This desire, according to Voltaire, is a major flaw in Western society.

6.

'Alas!' said Candide, 'it is the mania for insisting that all is well when all is by no means well.'


Candide, Chapter 19

Cacambo's innocent question about the meaning of optimism upon meeting the slave from the cotton mill spurs Candide to renounce everything Pangloss has taught him.

7.

Everywhere the weak loathe the strong, before whom they cringe, and the strong treat them like so many sheep to be sold for their meat and their wool.


Martin, Chapter 20

Martin's views are the polar opposite of those of Pangloss. Having seen more than his fair share of suffering, he is a pessimist through and through.

8.

'But what a superior being, this Pococuranté,' murmured Candide again, 'what a genius! There is no pleasing him.'


Candide, Chapter 25

Signor Pococuranté finds fault in everything, which makes Candide think that he is really, really smart. In reality he's a jerk. Voltaire is demonstrating that criticism should not be equated with intelligence.

9.

When His Highness the Sultan sends a ship to Egypt, does he worry whether the mice on board are comfortable or not?


Dervish, Chapter 30

The dervish tells Pangloss that what God does is none of Pangloss's business, for all are unimportant in the grand scheme of things.

10.

'Let us set to work and stop proving things,' said Martin, 'for that is the only way to make life bearable.'


Martin, Chapter 30

Martin's command neatly summarizes the point of Candide: hard work, not abstract philosophical ideas, is the basis for happiness. Talking doesn't accomplish anything.

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