full title Candide, or Optimism
author Voltaire (pen name of François-Marie Arouet)
type of work Novel
genre Satire; adventure novel
time and place written Schwetzingen, Prussia; and Geneva, Switzerland; 1758–1759
date of first publication January or February, 1759
publisher Gabriel Cramer
narrator Anonymous satirical narrator
point of view The narrator speaks in the third person, focusing on the perspective and experiences of Candide. Events and characters are described objectively most of the time. Occasionally, they are described as Candide sees them, but this is always done with an ironic tone.
tone Ironic; melodramatic
tense Past and present
setting (time) 1750s
setting (place) Various real and fictional locations in Europe and South America
major conflict Candide and Pangloss’s optimistic world view is challenged by numerous disasters; Candide’s love for Cunégonde is repeatedly thwarted.
rising action Candide is expelled from his home for kissing Cunégonde; he wanders the world attempting to preserve his life and reunite with his beloved.
climax Candide finds Cunégonde enslaved in Turkey; the two are married.
falling action Candide, Cunégonde, Pangloss, and their friends struggle with boredom; they find solace in gardening.
themes The folly of optimism; the uselessness of philosophical speculation; the hypocrisy of religion; the corrupting power of money
motifs Resurrection; rape; political oppression
symbols Pangloss; the garden; the Lisbon earthquake
foreshadowing There is virtually no foreshadowing in this wildly chaotic narrative. Candide’s repeated musings about what Pangloss would think of events foreshadows Pangloss’s “resurrection.”
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