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by Voltaire

Analysis: Three Act Plot Analysis

For a three-act plot analysis, put on your screenwriter’s hat. Moviemakers know the formula well: at the end of Act One, the main character is drawn in completely to a conflict. During Act Two, she is farthest away from her goals. At the end of Act Three, the story is resolved.

Act I

Candide grows up in the country home of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh in Westphalia. He is educated by Dr. Pangloss, and he falls for the Baron’s daughter, Cunégonde. Candide is then banished when he and Cunégonde are caught smooching.

Act II

Here begins a series of catastrophes ranging from execution and rape to ship wrecks, theft, and natural disasters. These events bring to question the ceaselessly optimistic philosophy of Dr. Pangloss. Driven by his love for Cunégonde, Candide goes to all ends of the Earth to reunite with and marry her.


Candide finds and marries Cunégonde. He discovers that Pangloss and the Baron are alive. He buys the freedom of his various enslaved friends and purchases a farm. Everyone lives together on the farm; however, they remain unhappy. Following the advice of a local farmer, they seek solace in work.


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