Study Help Essay Questions

1. What are three examples of surprising discoveries in Candide? In reference to such discoveries, with what popular fiction does Voltaire's narrative have affinities?

2. What evidence is there that Voltaire's attack upon religion was not limited to Christianity or even to Catholicism?

3. What are the chief elements of personal satire in Candide?

4. What episodes reflect Voltaire's experiences at Potsdam?

5. To what extent may Candide at times be identified with Voltaire himself?

6. With what other character has Voltaire been identified? Why?

7. What are three notable examples of exaggeration — one of setting, one of character, one of action?

8. Voltaire has been denounced as a scoffer, a cynic. Is there any evidence that he had not lost his faith in humanity?

9. What views of literature find a place in Candide?

10. What chiefly do you find ironic in the author's account of the Inquisition?

11. What do you consider to be Martin's function in Candide?

12. In view of Voltaire's relentless attack upon religion, what did he himself believe?

13. Optimism, religion, and war are chief targets of Voltaire's satire. At the social level, what else did he satirize?

14. Voltaire's comic gift has been widely recognized. What are three episodes that especially illustrate this gift?

15. How may the old woman's story, a long digression, be justified structurally?

16. What are the chief characteristics of Voltaire's style?

17. What are two examples of caricature in Candide? Of parody?

18. In what special way does the Eldorado episode serve in the author's attack on optimism?

19. What place does the rhetorical device of euphemism have in Candide? Illustrate.

20. Discuss these two quotations central to an understanding of Candide: "All is for the best . . . in the best of all possible worlds" and "We must cultivate our garden."

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