Study Guide

Candide Suffering

By Voltaire


The absolutist Optimism of Dr. Pangloss is frequently revealed to be irrational and unfounded in reality. Candide offers one example after another of pain, loss, misfortune, and suffering meant to underscore the flaws in the philosophy of Optimism.

Questions About Suffering

  1. Discuss the ways in which Optimism is parodied by suffering in Candide. How is Candide’s Optimism challenged throughout the novel? How, if at all, does his perspective change?
  2. Why does Candide choose Martin, someone with profoundly opposite philosophical views, as his principal friend and companion?

Chew on This

Candide’s retreat to the garden symbolizes an abandonment of optimistic idealism for what is in a way its own kind of suffering: hard labor in the garden.