Candide By François Voltaire Summary and Analysis Chapters XXVII-XXX

Cacambo had made arrangements for Candide and himself to sail aboard a ship commanded by a Turkish captain under orders of the Sultan Ahmed. Both prostrated themselves before his "miserable Highness." En route, Candide, in whose breast hope sprang eternal, contemplated the lot of the six kings he had met in Venice and compared their lot with his own, now that he was flying to the arms of Cunégonde. He assured Martin that Pangloss had been right: "All is well." Martin could only express his hope that the youth was right. Unlike his companion, he saw nothing extraordinary in the fact that they had dined with six dethroned rulers; such dethronements were common enough.


Summary

Cacambo had made arrangements for Candide and himself to sail aboard a ship commanded by a Turkish captain under orders of the Sultan Ahmed. Both prostrated themselves before his "miserable Highness." En route, Candide, in whose breast hope sprang eternal, contemplated the lot of the six kings he had met in Venice and compared their lot with his own, now that he was flying to the arms of Cunégonde. He assured Martin that Pangloss had been right: "All is well." Martin could only express his hope that the youth was right. Unlike his companion, he saw nothing extraordinary in the fact that they had dined with six dethroned rulers; such dethronements were common enough.

Candide turned to Cacambo and asked him many questions about Cunégonde. What was she doing? Was she still the peerless beauty? Had Cacambo bought her a palace in Constantinople? He was told that the lady was a lowly servant in the household of a former sovereign named Ragotsky (actually a former prince of Transylvania). Much worse, she had lost her beauty. Candide gallantly declared that, ugly or beautiful, it was his duty to love her. But how, he asked, had she been reduced to such an abject state? Did not Cacambo have vast wealth in his possession? The valet told of the ransom he had had to pay to the governor of Buenos Aires, and of the large sums that he had been forced to turn over to the pirates. He himself was a slave to the deposed sultan.

Candide consoled himself with the thought that he still had a few diamonds left and that he would be able to rescue Cunégonde. But now he wondered if his lot were not really worse than that of the six kings. He assured Martin that Pangloss would have been able to provide an answer. But Martin was convinced that there were millions far worse off than Candide and the deposed rulers.

When they arrived at Bosporus, Candide secured the freedom of Cacambo and, without waste of time, headed for the shores of the Propontis to find Cunégonde. Again there occurred one of those amazing coincidences. Two galley slaves turned out to be none other than Doctor Pangloss and the Jesuit baron, Cunégonde's brother! "Is it a dream?" asked Candide. "Is that My Lord Baron, whom I killed? Is that Doctor Pangloss, whom I saw hanged?" Then he made immediate arrangements with the Levantine captain for ransoming the two. Since they were "dogs of Christian convicts," one a baron and the other a metaphysician, the price was an exorbitant one, but Candide did not protest. He also paid the captain to take them all to the nearest port.

Candide introduced Martin and Cacambo to the baron and Pangloss. They all embraced; they all talked at once. When they reached port, Candide sold a diamond worth a hundred thousand sequins for 50,000 and immediately paid the ransom for the two former galley slaves. He sold more diamonds, and they all set out in another galley to deliver Cunégonde, now a kitchen slavey in the household of the Prince of Transylvania.

Again Candide implored the baron's pardon for having given him the great sword thrust through the body. "Let's say no more about it," said the baron, and he admitted that he had been a little too hasty himself. He then told his story. After having been cured of his wound by the brother apothecary of the Jesuit College, he was carried off by a party of Spaniards and imprisoned in Buenos Aires just after his sister left; next he was chosen to go to Constantinople and serve as almoner with the ambassador of France. A week after he had assumed his duties, he met a very attractive young page to the sultan. Since it was very hot, the two bathed together. But in Turkey it was a capital crime for a Christian to be found naked with a young Moslem. A cadi (magistrate or judge) sentenced the baron to be given one hundred lashes on the soles of his feet and condemned him to the galleys. This was unjust enough, he concluded, but why should his sister be in the kitchen of a refugee Transylvanian prince?

Next Candide turned to Pangloss and asked how it happened that he had survived. Yes, he had been hanged rather than burned because of the heavy downpour of rain. A surgeon had bought his body, took it to his home, and dissected it. No one had been worse hanged than Pangloss. The Holy Inquisition's Executor of High Operations, a sub-deacon, did burn people marvelously, but he was a rank amateur at hanging. The wet rope had slipped badly and had become knotted. And thus Pangloss was still breathing. He had cried out loudly when the doctor made an incision in his body, and the frightened man fled, convinced that he had been dissecting a devil. When the doctor's wife came running into the room, she was more frightened than her husband, over whose prone body she stumbled as she ran. "My dear," she said, "what are you thinking of, dissecting a heretic? Don't you know that the devil is always in those people?" When Pangloss heard her say that she would summon a priest quickly to exorcise him, he shuddered and cried out for them to take pity on him. Finally, the "Portuguese barber," as Pangloss called him, recovered enough courage to sew up Pangloss. Further, he found Pangloss a job as lackey to a knight of Malta who was going to Venice. But since the knight was penniless, Pangloss entered the services of a Venetian merchant and went with him to Constantinople.

One day he entered a mosque where an old iman (holy man) and a very seductive appearing young devotee were present. The girl dropped the beautiful bouquet she had placed between her uncovered breasts. The gallant Pangloss retrieved and replaced it, but took so long in doing so that the iman grew angry. Recognizing Pangloss as a Christian, he cried out for help. And, like the baron, Pangloss was taken before a magistrate and given the same sentence his fellow-sufferer had received. In the galley were four young men from Marseilles, five Neapolitan priests, and two monks who told the baron that what had happened to him was a daily occurrence. The baron and Pangloss argued about who had suffered most, the latter insisting that it was far more permissible to replace a bouquet on a woman's bosom than to be stark naked with the page of a sultan, when Candide appeared and ransomed them.

"Well, my dear Pangloss," said Candide, "when you were hanged, racked with blows, and rowing in the galleys, did you still think that all was for the best?" And the philosopher assured the youth that he was still of his first opinion, arguing that Leibnitz cannot be wrong.

En route to the house of the prince of Transylvania on the shore of the Propontis, Candide, the baron, Pangloss, Martin, and Cacambo talked at length about their adventures, reasoned on the contingent and non-contingent events of the world, argued about causes and effects, moral and physical evil, and free will and necessity. When they landed at the prince's house, they saw Cunégonde and the old woman hanging towels on a line to dry. The baron paled at the sight of his once beautiful sister. She was now dark-skinned; her eyes were blood shot; her cheeks wrinkled; her arms red and rough. No longer did she have the enticing figure he had remembered. She embraced her brother and Candide, who in turn embraced the old woman. Candide ransomed both women.

The old woman, never without a plan, suggested that they buy a small farm in the neighborhood and await a better destiny. Poor Cunégonde, who did not know that she had grown ugly, reminded Candide of his promise to marry her. "I shall never endure such baseness on her part or insolence on Candide's," exclaimed the baron. He could not bear the thought that his sister's children would be barred from the aristocracy. Although Cunégonde threw herself at his feet and wept bitter tears, he was adamant. Candide called him the maddest of madmen and reminded him of all he had done for his sister. The baron replied, "You may kill me again, but you shall not marry my sister while I am alive."

Candide really had no desire to marry Cunégonde, but the baron's arrogance and Cunégonde's pleading made him determined to do so. He consulted Pangloss, Martin, and the faithful Cacambo. Pangloss prepared a fine memoir by which he proved to his own satisfaction that the baron had no right to interfere, that she could make a morganatic marriage. Martin thought that the baron should be thrown into the sea. Cacambo decided that the baron should be returned to galleys and then be sent by the first ship to the Father General in Rome. All but Cunégonde, who had been told nothing, approved of the plan. So they had the pleasure of trapping a Jesuit and punishing a German baron for excessive pride.

It would seem that Candide, married to Cunégonde and living with two philosophers and the prudent Cacambo, would now lead a pleasant life, but he had nothing left but the little farm. His wife became uglier and more shrewish every day. The old woman, now an invalid, became more intolerable than Cunégonde. Nor was Cacambo happy. He was overworked and bewailed his fate. Pangloss was disappointed because he was not flourishing at some German university. As for Martin, his pessimism was more pronounced than ever, but he accepted his lot patiently.

Candide, Martin, and Pangloss spent much of their time arguing about metaphysics and morality and watching the sights. They often saw Turkish officers of all ranks on farm boats that took them into exile; and they saw other officials arriving to take their places, ones who would later be exiled. They saw "properly impaled heads" being taken to the Sublime Port (the gate of sultan's palace). These sights redoubled the discourse of the three. But the boredom increased, and the old woman proposed a question: was it worse to be raped a thousand times by pirates, have a buttock cut off, run the gauntlet of the Bulgarians, and be flogged and hanged in the auto-da-fé, be dissected, row in the galleys — in short, to undergo all the miseries they had experienced — or stay where they were and do nothing? A great question, as Candide remarked, one that called for reflection. Martin was sure that it was humanity's lot to live in a state of anxiety and boredom. Candide disagreed but asserted nothing. Pangloss admitted that his life had been filled with suffering, but he still defended his position that everything was wonderful, even if he himself did not believe so.

When they saw Paquette and Giroflée in a state of utter misery coming to the farm, Martin was absolutely convinced that his dark view of life was the correct one. The two had squandered the money Candide had given them; they had quarreled and then become reconciled to each other; they had been put in prison, from which they had escaped. Now the friar had made good his threat to turn Turk, and the pathetic Paquette endeavored, unsuccessfully, to ply her trade everywhere. Martin told Candide that he had known that the young man and Cacambo would dissipate their wealth, that they were no happier than these two most recent arrivals. As for Pangloss, he greeted Paquette by telling her that she had cost him the end of his nose, an eye, and an ear.

This new adventure led them to philosophize more than ever. In an attempt to get some answers to basic questions, they consulted a very famous dervish, one considered to be the best philosopher in Turkey, and posed this question to him: why was such a strange animal as man ever created? The dervish replied that they were meddling in matters that were no concern of theirs, that it does not matter if there is a horrible amount of evil on earth. "When His Highness sends a ship to Egypt, is he bothered about whether the mice in the ship are comfortable or not?" All they should do, the dervish continued, was to hold their tongues. Pangloss was crushed. He had hoped to reason with this man about effects and causes, the best of all possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and pre-established harmony. But the dervish slammed the door in the face of his visitors.

Meanwhile, the news had gone round that in Constantinople the authorities had just strangled two viziers of the Divan (ministers of state) and impaled several of their friends. The catastrophe had created quite a stir for a few hours. Upon returning to the farm, Pangloss, Candide, and Martin met an old man relaxing under a bower of orange trees. They asked him the name of the mufti who had just been strangled. The old man professed to know nothing; he had always assumed that those who meddle with public affairs sometime suffer and deserve to do so. As for him, he contented himself with cultivating his garden. Then he invited the three into his house and provided them with refreshments. His two daughters perfumed the visitors' beards. Candide was most impressed. He was sure that his good Moslem must have a vast estate but learned that his host possessed only twenty acres. "I cultivate them with my children," said the Turk. "Work keeps away three great evils: boredom, vice, and need."

As he went back to the farm, Candide pondered deeply what the old man had said. He informed Pangloss and Martin that the man had made a life for himself which was far better than that of the six kings they had met in Venice. Pangloss held forth at his usual length, appealing to Biblical and secular history, to prove that great eminence is always dangerous. "I also know," said Candide, "that we must cultivate our garden." His philosopher friend agreed. "Let us work without reason," added Martin. "It is the only way to make life bearable." And so the little society entered into this laudable plan — Cunégonde, Paquette, Friar Giroflée included.

That irrepressible optimist Pangloss sometimes repeated his belief that all events were linked together logically in this best of all possible worlds. He argued that had not Candide been expelled from a fine castle and experienced so many difficulties, he would not now be enjoying candied citrons and pistachios. "That is well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden."

Analysis

In these last three chapters, Voltaire managed to bring together the leading characters in Candide and to provide a good resolution of the eventful story. Almost to the very end, the emphasis remained on humanity's irrationality, intolerance, cruelty, avarice. Much of this was illustrated by the narratives of the Jesuit baron and of Pangloss, whose account of his experiences with the "Portuguese barber" and his wife, however gruesome the details, provided the most hilarious bit of low comedy to be found in the tale.

Leading up to the final injunction that one must learn to cultivate his garden, Voltaire especially stressed the evils visited upon those in public life: the plight of the six kings, whom Candide cannot forget, as well as the strangulation and impaling of the viziers and the indications that their successors would fare no better. The good old man presumed "that in general those who meddle with public affairs sometimes perish miserably, and that they deserve it." Voltaire, one remembers, had had his difficulties in court and aristocratic circles; he had experienced imprisonment and exile. Finally he retired to his estates near Geneva and at Ferney, where he indeed "cultivated his garden," working diligently to the very end of his long life.

A deist, Voltaire believed in a god; the arrangements of the universe presupposed a designer. But to suppose that God intervenes in the affairs of the world was to him superstition. The key passage in which he made clear his point of view is the following:

Pangloss was the spokesman and said to him, "Master, we have come to ask you to tell us why such a strange animal as man was ever created."

"Why are you meddling in?" said the dervish. "Is that your business?"

"But Reverend Father," said Candide, "there is a horrible amount of evil on earth."

"What does it matter," said the dervish, "whether there is evil or good? When His Highness sends a ship to Egypt, is he bothered about whether the mice in the ship are comfortable or not?"

"Then what should we do?" said Pangloss.

"Hold your tongue," said the dervish.

And when Pangloss expressed the hope that he and the dervish might discuss effects and causes, the nature of evil, and pre-established harmony — in short Leibnitzian philosophy — the dervish shut the door in his face. Voltaire had lost faith in systematic philosophy.

In the first two of these three chapters, as in the earlier ones, Candide's attitude vacillated, but he had never entirely abandoned the optimistic faith taught to him by Pangloss. However, in the final chapter, after the conversation with the old man who owned the twenty acres of cultivated land, he finally became convinced that man cannot understand the evil in the world. Therefore man should not make it worse by vain perplexities. He should attend to the counsels of moderation and good sense and let the narrow bounds of his knowledge at least teach him restraint. Above all, let him find support in work, even if he does not see to what it tends. In a word, let him cultivate his garden. Only then will life become meaningful and a modicum of happiness be realized. Fundamentally, the aim in life is not the pursuit of happiness, as the romanticist believed.

This is the main point Voltaire made in the final chapter and indeed in the entire tale. But there are many other facets of interest in these last chapters. To the very end, Voltaire continued his anti-clerical satire. Friar Giroflée, still the profligate, did become a Turk, and the Jesuit baron was punished for his arrogant pride by being sent back to the galleys and then to Rome. There was no place for him in the garden the others planned to cultivate. Voltaire wrote of their "pleasure in trapping a Jesuit." Pangloss remarks about the Holy Inquisition's Executor of High Operations, who, although expert at burning people, proved to be most inept at hanging them was part of the satire directed against the Church.

It is to be noted also that, as regards the baron, Voltaire returned to personal satire directed against Frederick the Great. Not only did the baron continue to be ridiculously proud of his lineage and to refuse under any conditions to see his now ugly and destitute sister marry a commoner who was willing to look after her, but the episode involving the young page pointed to Frederick's alleged sexuality. Personal also was the statement that Candide had been victimized by Jews: Voltaire himself had suffered financial losses from the bankruptcies of Jewish bankers.

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