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Candide

Voltaire

Important Quotations Explained

Quotes Important Quotations Explained

Quote 5

—You are perfectly right, said Pangloss; for when man was put into the garden of Eden, he was put there ut operaretur eum, so that he should work it; this proves that man was not born to take his ease. —Let’s work without speculating, said Martin; it’s the only way of rendering life bearable. The whole little group entered into this laudable scheme; each one began to exercise his talents. The little plot yielded fine crops . . . and Pangloss sometimes used to say to Candide: —All events are linked together in the best of possible worlds; for, after all, if you had not been driven from a fine castle by being kicked in the backside for love of Miss Cunégonde, if you hadn’t been sent before the Inquisition, if you hadn’t traveled across America on foot, if you hadn’t given a good sword thrust to the baron, if you hadn’t lost all your sheep from the good land of Eldorado, you wouldn’t be sitting here eating candied citron and pistachios.
—That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden.

This is the final passage of the novel. The cure for the crushing boredom described in the previous quotation has been found in the hard work of gardening. As Pangloss points out, this cure recalls the state of mankind in the garden of Eden, where man was master of all things. On their small plot of land in Turkey, these characters seem to have a control over their destinies that they could not achieve in their lives up until this point. Instead of living at the mercy of circumstances, they are—literally—reaping what they sow. It is, of course, surprising that this fictional argument against optimism should be presented as a happy ending. Given this ending, the reader might for the first time be inclined to wonder whether Pangloss is right in claiming to live in “the best of possible worlds.” But that claim and all arguments against it are proscribed by the lifestyle the characters have discovered. As Candide implies in his final line, gardening leaves no time for philosophical speculation, and everyone is happier and more productive as a result.