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Invitation to World Literature



audio-iconBrother Giroflé
Forced to become a monk in order for his elder brother to inherit the family wealth, Giroflé is a model of inner misery amid seeming happiness.
A product of the Spanish colonization of the Americas, Cacambo is the son of an Indian woman and a half-Indian, half-Spanish man. He goes through as many roles and adventures as Candide, and serves as Candide's friend and valet.
An Everyman figure, naïve and a victim of experience, Candide is completely vulnerable to the criminals, hypocrites, liars, and fiends of the world, yet is redeemed by his love for Cunégonde and his undying optimism.
Daughter of a German baron in Westphalia, Cunégonde is tossed from place to place, continent to continent, by a series of men who claim her. She remains virtuous in spirit throughout, and a beacon to Candide.
El Dorado
The mythical South American paradise where there is no crime or religion or injustice, gold and jewels take the place of mud and rocks in the streets, no one goes hungry, and no one is ever sad. It is the opposite of everything that real human civilization offers. Candide is well-treated here, but ultimately leaves it to find Cunégonde.
The Jesuit Colonel
Cunégonde's brother falls into the Jesuit priesthood and religious war as accidentally as his sister falls into sexual slavery or Candide falls into prison. His obstinate class prejudice leads him to oppose Candide's marriage to his sister, with almost fatal results.
The King of El Dorado
The only successful, decent, appealing man of power in the novel. His complete isolation from the rest of the world is probably what makes his virtue possible.
The philosopher Martin travels with Candide for much of the story, serving as his companion and conversational foil. Martin has rationally allowed misfortune to make him pessimistic. He is therefore honest and engaging.
The Old Woman
Her life parallels Cunégonde's, in that the Old Woman was once a Princess who was sold into slavery several times, taken advantage of by many men high and low, and winds up working for the moneylender Don Issachar, who buys Cunégonde.
The Negro Slave
A slave whom Candide encounters in the South American colony of Surinam. The horror of this man's life underscores the stark reality beneath the comic exaggerations of Candide's adventures.
The tutor of Candide and Cunégonde, Pangloss thinks that everything happens for the best. He stubbornly maintains this view throughout all the horrors of the book.
Chambermaid to Cunégonde's mother; her relationship with a priest leads to her banishment from Westphalia. She becomes an official prostitute, as opposed to the unofficial prostitution of Cunégonde.
Candide's home, a small principality in what is today modern Germany. In the novel it stands in for the average European society.