Candide Themes

This Study Guide consists of approximately 59 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Candide.
This section contains 706 words
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Human Condition

The grand theme of the novel is the human condition. Candide wonders, what is the best way to approach life? In the story, Candide has been educated in the system of optimism. It is all he knows, but if Candide had been a flat enough character to accept optimism, the book would be without hope. Instead, Candide doubts the philosophy of optimism and eventually rejects it.

The quest of Candide centers on whether the doctrine of optimism taught by Dr. Pangloss is true. If it is, optimism must be reconciled with what Candide experiences. The reconciliation is not possible without some absurd postulations. For example, Pangloss says that syphilis "is an indispensable element in the best of worlds, a necessary ingredient, because if Columbus, on an American island, hadn't caught that disease which poisons the source of generations … which often prevents generation … the great goal of nature...

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This section contains 706 words
(approx. 2 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Candide Study Guide
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Novels for Students
Candide from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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