protagonist of the novel, Candide is a good-hearted but hopelessly
naïve young man. His mentor, Pangloss, teaches him that their world
is “the best of all possible worlds.” After being banished from
his adopted childhood home, Candide travels the world and meets
with a wide variety of misfortunes, all the while pursuing security
and following Cunégonde, the woman he loves. His faith in Pangloss’s
undiluted optimism is repeatedly tested. Candide is less a realistic character
than a conduit for the attitudes and events that surround him. His
opinions and actions are determined almost entirely by the influence
of outside factors.
in-depth analysis of Candide.
is a philosopher and Candide’s tutor. His optimistic belief that
this world is “the best of all possible worlds” is the primary target
of the novel’s satire. Pangloss’s own experiences contradict this belief,
but he remains faithful to it nonetheless. Like Candide, Pangloss
is not a three-dimensional character. Instead, he is an exaggerated
parody of overly optimistic Enlightenment philosophers.
in-depth analysis of Pangloss.
is a cynical scholar whom Candide befriends as a travel companion.
Martin has suffered a great deal in his life and preaches a philosophy
of undiluted pessimism. More knowledgeable and intelligent than either
Candide or Pangloss, Martin is nonetheless a flawed philosopher.
Because he always expects nothing but the worst from the world,
he often has trouble seeing the world as it really is.
in-depth analysis of Martin.
is the daughter of a German baron who acts as Candide’s benefactor
until he discovers Candide’s love for his daughter. Throughout much
of the novel, Cunégonde is young and beautiful. After her father’s
castle is destroyed in war, a number of exploitative men enslave
her or use her as a mistress. Cunégonde returns Candide’s love but
is willing to betray him for the sake of her own interests. Like
him, she is neither intelligent nor complex. Her very blandness
casts a satiric light on Candide’s mad romantic passion for her.
becomes Candide’s valet when Candide travels in South America. A
mixed-race native of the Americas, Cacambo is highly intelligent
and morally honest. He is savvy and single-handedly rescues Candide
from a number of scrapes. He is also directly responsible for Candide’s
reunion with Cunégonde. As a practical man of action, he stands
in direct opposition to ineffectual philosophers such as Pangloss and
in-depth analysis of Cacambo.
The old woman
old woman was born the daughter of a Pope. She has experienced the
death of a fiancé, rape by pirates, slavery, and cannibalism in
wartime. She becomes Cunégonde’s servant. Her misfortunes have made
her cynical about human nature, but she does not give in to self-pity.
She is wise, practical, and loyal to her mistress. Though she has
often been close to suicide, she always finds a reason to live.
The Commander or the baron
The baron is Cunégonde’s brother. After his family’s
castle is destroyed in wartime, he becomes a Jesuit priest. It is
implied numerous times that he has homosexual tendencies. He is
arrogant about his family’s noble lineage and, though he is fond
of the commoner Candide, he refuses to allow Candide to marry Cunégonde.
Jacques (the Anabaptist)
Jacques is a humane Dutch Anabaptist. He cares for
the itinerant Candide and Pangloss. Despite his kindness, Jacques
is pessimistic about human nature. He drowns in the Bay of Lisbon while
trying to save the life of an ungrateful sailor.
The farmer has a modest farm outside Constantinople. Candide and
his friends are impressed with his lifestyle of hard work and simple
pleasures, and adopt it for themselves.
The count is a wealthy Venetian. He has a marvelous
collection of art and literature, but he is bored with and critical
the beginning of the novel, Paquette is the chambermaid of Cunégonde’s
mother. She has an affair with Pangloss and gives him syphilis.
She eventually turns to prostitution to support herself. Brother Giroflée
is one of her clients. In Venice, Candide is moved by Paquette’s
misery and gives her a large sum of money, which she quickly squanders.
Brother Giroflée is a dissatisfied monk. His parents
forced him into a monastery to enlarge his brother’s fortune. He
pays for Paquette’s services. Like her, he is miserable and does
not get any happier after Candide gives him a large sum of money.
The Grand Inquisitor
The Grand Inquisitor is an important figure in the
Portuguese Catholic Church and represents the hypocrisy of religious
leaders. He uses the threat of religious oppression to force the
Jew Don Issachar to share Cunégonde with him. Meanwhile, he orders
that suspected heretics be burned alive. Candide kills the Inquisitor
when the Inquisitor discovers him with Cunégonde.
Issachar is a wealthy Jew. He purchases Cunégonde and makes her
his mistress. The Grand Inquisitor forces him to share Cunégonde
by threatening to burn him alive as a heretic. Candide kills Don
Issachar when he interrupts Candide and Cunégonde.
Don Fernando d’Ibaraa y Figueora y Mascarenes
y Lampourdos y Souza
is the governor of Buenos Aires. He becomes infatuated with Cunégonde
and makes her his mistress despite her engagement to Candide.
is a cruel slave owner and an unscrupulous merchant. After he steals
one of Candide’s jewel-laden sheep, his ship is sunk in a battle. Candide
sees his death as a sign that retributive justice is at work in
The Abbé of Perigord
The abbé (abbot) is a Paris socialite who cheats
Candide out of his money.
The Marquise of Parolignac
The Marquise is a cunning, sexually licentious Paris
socialite. She seduces Candide and steals some of his jeweled rings.