Candide By François Voltaire Summary and Analysis Chapters VII-X

The old woman led Candide to a hovel, provided ointment for his wounds, gave him food and drink, and arranged to get for him a suit of clothes and an acceptable bed. Candide found himself overwhelmed by her charity, and he endeavored to kiss her hand. But it was not her hand that he should kiss, he was informed enigmatically. She voiced a short prayer for his well being and promised to return on the next day.


Summary

The old woman led Candide to a hovel, provided ointment for his wounds, gave him food and drink, and arranged to get for him a suit of clothes and an acceptable bed. Candide found himself overwhelmed by her charity, and he endeavored to kiss her hand. But it was not her hand that he should kiss, he was informed enigmatically. She voiced a short prayer for his well being and promised to return on the next day.

Despite his misfortunes, Candide was able to eat and sleep. In the morning, the old woman reappeared with breakfast for him. For the next two days she attended him. Although Candide repeatedly asked her who she was and why she should be so kind to him, the woman would not enlighten him. Toward evening, she returned and told him to come with her in silence. She took him to an isolated country house surrounded by gardens and canals. In response to her knock, a little door was opened, and Candide followed her up a hidden staircase and into a gilded boudoir. She then left him. Candide was nonplused; for a moment he considered that his whole life had been a wicked dream and that the present moment was a wonderful dream.

Once more the old woman came back, this time assisting into the room a trembling woman, majestic in bearing, who gleamed with precious stones. Her face was veiled, and the old woman commanded Candide to lift the veil. Behold, the strange woman turned out to be his adored Cunégonde. Speechless in their surprise, both swooned and then were revived by the useful old woman, who had the tact to leave them to themselves.

Candide had many questions to ask Cunégonde. He learned that she had been ravished and wounded, but she obviously had survived the ordeal. Her father, mother, and brother, however, had been killed. Before she would complete her story, she insisted that Candide tell his, and she listened to it most sympathetically.

Cunégonde's story was quite as melodramatic as Candide's. She provided the details of the Bulgarians' attack on the castle of Thunder-ten-tronckh and the slaughter of her father, mother, and brother. She herself had been repeatedly raped and then stabbed with a knife in the side. Candide expressed the hope that he would be allowed to see the scar. "You shall," replied Cunégonde, and then she resumed her story.

A Bulgarian captain had appeared, took compassion on the wounded girl, killed the guilty soldier, had her wounds dressed, and took her to his quarters as prisoner-of-war. She performed menial work for the captain, who found her to be quite attractive. And Cunégonde conceded that he was not without his attractions but added that he had little philosophy since he had not been schooled by Doctor Pangloss. Having lost both his money and his taste for the young lady after three months, the captain sold her to an amorous Jew named Don Issachar, a man who traded in Holland and Portugal. But Cunégonde successfully resisted his efforts to win her favors, and to tame her he had brought her to this country house, which rivaled the Westphalian castle in splendor.

At Mass one day, the Grand Inquisitor himself took much interest in her, and he sent word that he had secret matters to discuss with her. At his palace, when Cunégonde identified herself as a lady of high rank, he reproached her for being in the possession of an Israelite. On the Grand Inquisitor's behalf, Don Issachar was asked to yield her to that high-ranking official. But the Israelite was not without his influence, for he was, among other things, court banker. He refused to comply. The Grand Inquisitor's passion for Cunégonde would not let him give up the attempt to gain her for himself. Finally, Don Issachar agreed that the two men would share her and the house. The Jew was to have her on Monday and Wednesday, his rival to have her on Sunday. The design for living did not make for complete tranquility; but, more important, so far Cunégonde had succeeded in resisting both men, whose love became more ardent for that very reason.

It was to prevent earthquakes and to frighten Don Issachar that the Inquisitor had decided to "celebrate" an auto-da-fé, Cunégonde explained. At that assembly, she was an honored guest and was among those served refreshments between Mass and the executions. She was appalled to witness the burnings and was utterly horrified to see first the hanging of Pangloss and then the flogging of the naked Candide. She found herself too weak to cry out in protest. One thought possessed her: Doctor Pangloss had deceived her when he had called this the best of all possible worlds.

It was Cunégonde who had instructed the old woman to find her lover and bring him to the house in the wood. She expressed her joy at meeting him again, and the two sat down to supper. But soon Don Issachar arrived. It was Sunday, and he had come to enjoy his rights.

The Jew was in a choleric fit when he found Candide with Cunégonde. He denounced her as a "bitch of a Galilean" who was not satisfied with the love of two men. Drawing out a long dagger, he attacked Candide. Again in danger of losing his life, the usually gentle youth met the attack with his sword and killed his opponent. Cunégonde was terrified: if the law came, both she and her lover would be hanged. Candide replied that if Pangloss had not been hanged, he would tell them what to do. Had he not been a great philosopher? In the absence of Pangloss, the two consulted the old woman.

As the old woman began to counsel the two, the Inquisitor arrived; it was an hour after midnight and his turn to visit the fair Cunégonde. He viewed the complete tableau: the flogged Candide, now armed with a sword; the slain Israelite; the frightened Cunégonde. Candide, fully aware of the new danger, hesitated only momentarily and then killed the Inquisitor, tossing his body beside that of the Jew.

Cunégonde knew that she and Candide had no chance to be pardoned; they would be excommunicated. Especially was she surprised that the kindly Candide could have killed one Jew and an Inquisitor in two minutes. Candide could only reply that when a person has been flogged and is in love and is jealous, he is out of his mind.

It was the old woman's turn to speak next. She informed them that there were three Andalusian horses in the stable and Candide should get them for the flight from the Jew's house. She pointed out that Cunégonde had money and jewels to cover the expenses. She herself would ride one of the horses, despite the fact that she had only one buttock. The plan was carried out.

Not long after they had left, the Holy Hermandad (an association founded in Spain with its own police force to track down criminals) came to the house and discovered the two bodies. The body of Don Issachar was tossed on a dump; that of the Grand Inquisitor was buried in a beautiful church. Already Candide, Cunégonde, and the old woman had reached a little town in the Sierra Morena mountains and were resting at an inn.

Cunégonde found that someone had stolen her money and jewels: they were now destitute. The old woman was sure that the thief was a reverend Franciscan father who had occupied the same inn as they had in another village. Candide recalled that Pangloss had often proved to him that the goods of the earth belong to all men. According to this principle, he concluded, the priest should have left them part of the money and jewels.

Again it was the old woman who came up with a plan. Let them sell one of the horses. She will then ride with Cunégonde, and the three will reach Cádiz. And so it was. They arrived to witness the equipping of a fleet and troops which were to be sent to Paraguay to suppress the militant Jesuit Fathers who were accused of inciting one of their tribes to rebel against the kings of Spain and Portugal. Now Candide was able to put to use his knowledge of military drill, and he so impressed the Spanish general that he was given command of an infantry company. With Cunégonde, the old woman, two valets (for he was now a captain), and the two valuable horses, he embarked for South America.

During the voyage the philosophy of Doctor Pangloss was the subject of much discussion. Candide was sure that in the New World they would find the one where all is for the best. But Cunégonde, recalling all they had suffered, remained dubious. As for the old woman, she insisted that neither of the lovers had suffered as much as she had — a statement that amused the skeptical Cunégonde. The old woman was then ready to tell her story.

Analysis

The first thing to be noted is the adroit way in which Voltaire effects his transitions to a new episode and how he maintains suspense. The old woman appears like a deus ex machina just at the critical moment when Candide had no idea which way to turn. Note further the time that elapsed and Candide's repeated inquiries before the discovery of Cunégonde's identity.

Next, it is apparent that the experiences of Cunégonde, in their violence and melodramatic quality, parallel those of Candide and provide counterpoint. In character also, the two lovers complement each other. Both continued to revere Doctor Pangloss; although Cunégonde was beginning to feel much less sure than Candide, neither completely abandoned the optimistic philosophy inculcated by their mentor. Note that Candide's discovery of Cunégonde parallels his discovery of Pangloss: he had thought that both were dead. With fine irony, Voltaire had Cunégonde say that it pleased Heaven to send the Bulgarians to her father's castle; she still accepted the concept of necessary cause and effect, basic to the optimistic philosophy. The author achieved irony and witty understatement when he put these words in Candide's mouth: "We are going to another universe; no doubt it is in that one that all is well. For it must be admitted that one might groan a little over what happens in the physical and the moral domain in ours." Groan a little — this to describe the reactions of a young man who had endured so much! Clearly life, with all its cruelties and injustice, was educating him, but how slowly. But if Cunégonde continued to worship Pangloss and to voice his profound views, she was not so sure as she had been that he was right.

These chapters also carry forward the anti-Church satire, which is obvious enough with reference to the Grand Inquisitor, a prominent official of the Church. Thus, it is at a Mass that his illicit passion for Cunégonde first developed. He competed with an Israelite for her favors and even agreed to share her with his rival. Significant also is the fact that one of his two reasons for deciding to "celebrate" an auto-da-fé was to frighten the non-Christian Don Issachar. And when the police of the Holy Hermandad found the bodies of the Inquisitor and the Jew, the former was given burial with the full ceremony of the Church, whereas the body of the Jew was thrown on a rubbish heap as if it were the carcass of a dog. Add to all this the fact that, in all probability, a Franciscan priest had robbed Cunégonde of her money and jewels.

The responsibility of the Jesuits for the revolt in Paraguay was, for Voltaire (who never endorsed political revolution), new evidence of injustice within the Church: men of the cloth especially should render unto Caesar the things that are Caesar's. As early as 1605 the Jesuits had succeeded in establishing a kind of imperium in imperio in the little South American country and had drilled the natives in the use of arms, although they did not yet control the government. With the powerful assistance of Zabala, governor of Buenos Aires, however, the anti-Jesuit and quasi-national party was crushed in 1735. In 1750, Ferdinand VI of Spain ceded to the Portuguese both the district of La Guayra and a territory of some 20,000 square miles east of Uraguay. The Jesuits actively resisted, and it took the combined forces of Spain and Portugal to defeat them. The revolt referred to in Candide occurred in 1756 and provides a good example of how topical the tale is in many respects.

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