Study Questions & Essay Topics
1. What is the relationship between Candide’s adventures and Pangloss’s teachings?
2. Is Voltaire’s portrait of Eldorado optimistic or pessimistic? Why?
3. What is the significance of Candide’s retreat to his garden at the end of the novel? Does he find a credible solution to the problems and evils he has experienced?
Suggested Essay Topics
1. Discuss the significance of Jacques’ character. How does he fit in with Voltaire’s general view of human nature? What is the significance of his death?
2. The old woman has thought about suicide “a hundred times” but has refused to end her life. Why might that be?
3. Martin claims that people “live either in convulsions of misery or in the lethargy of boredom.” Do the events of the novel support that statement? Is one of the two options worse than the other? If what Martin says is true, what does it imply about the value of social change and political activism?
4. How do the experiences of the women in Candide differ from those of the men? How do their reactions to those experiences differ from those of the men?
5. What does Voltaire think about European colonization of the Americas? Discuss the significance of the character of Cacambo and of Candide’s encounter with the slave.
6. Does Voltaire agree with Martin’s outlook on the world? Why or why not?
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