Artboard Created with Sketch. Close Search Dialog
! Error Created with Sketch.

Candide

Voltaire

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 4

. . . [W]hen they were not arguing, the boredom was so fierce that one day the old woman ventured to say: —I should like to know which is worse, being raped a hundred times by negro pirates, having a buttock cut off, running the gauntlet in the Bulgar army, being flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fé, being dissected and rowing in the galleys—experiencing, in a word, all the miseries through which we have passed—or else just sitting here and doing nothing? —It’s a hard question, said Candide. These words gave rise to new reflections, and Martin in particular concluded that man was bound to live either in convulsions of misery or in the lethargy of boredom.

By Chapter 30, Candide and his friends have money, peace, and security, and Candide has finally married Cunégonde. But, as the old woman points out, these rare blessings have not brought them happiness. This passage implies that human beings do not suffer only as a result of political oppression, violent crime, war, or natural disaster. They suffer also from their own intrinsic flaws of chronic bad-temperedness and restlessness. Up to this point, all of the characters have been marvelously adept at getting themselves out of difficult or miserable situations. Faced with boredom in the absence of suffering, however, they cannot seem to find any way out on their own, and turn to “a very famous dervish” for advice. The one site of unmixed goodness and joy presented in the novel is the paradise of Eldorado, which Candide and Cacambo choose to leave. At the time, their decision to venture back into the world seems unwise. By this point in the novel, however, the reader wonders in retrospect whether the plague of boredom would not eventually have afflicted them in Eldorado as severely as it does in Constantinople. The boredom, as Martin’s words emphasize, seems to result not from an absence of happiness but an absence of suffering.