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by Voltaire

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Voyage and Return

Anticipation Stage and ‘Fall’ into the Other World


Candide is a naïve young man living in the country home of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. He innocently kisses his love interest, the Baron’s daughter Cunégonde, and he is expelled from his home into an unfamiliar world full of suffering and misfortune. This radical expulsion and dramatic change of scenery constitutes a fall into another world.

Initial Fascination or Dream Stage

Reality looks good to Candide—for about ten seconds.

Candide is briefly impressed with the world beyond his childhood home. He is penniless and starving, but two men offer him a meal and a drink and he gladly accepts. Candide’s naïve appreciation of everything around him constitutes initial fascination.

Frustration Stage

Thirty-some-odd gauntlets.

Candide discovers that the supposedly generous men were actually tricking him into servitude to the King of the Bulgars. He enters the army against his will and is beaten and nearly executed for taking a walk. Candide’s abrupt confrontation with reality signals a radical shift from his initial fascination and his entry into a frustrating world. Plus all the beatings are less than dreamy.

Nightmare Stage

Earthquakes, near death, rapes, disembowelments, near death, and general tragedy on the part of everyone Candide meets.

From here on out in the novel, everything becomes a nightmare for Candide and all of his friends. He is separated from Cunégonde for years, endures near execution, theft, and natural disasters, among other calamities. Much more so than in the frustration stage, in the nightmare stage, the misfortunes that Candide and his friends endure are extreme and relentless.

Thrilling Escape and Return

Candide avoids death and buys a farm.

Candide and his friends never escape the world of suffering; however, they do take refuge in a life of work and farming. Their relative isolation and their new sense of purpose signal that they are no longer in the nightmare stage.

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