Candide Chapter 27
"Candide's Voyage to Constantinople"
Cacambo secures passage to Constantinople for Candide and Martin on the Sultan Achmet's boat. Candide and Martin must kneel before "his miserable highness" (132) as they board, even though he has been dethroned. En route, Candide reflects on the remarkable dinner he and Martin had with the six dethroned kings. Considering someone like himself can be charitable to a king, Candide concludes that things are, for him at least, going well. Besides, he was on his way to see Cunégonde. Candide is inclined to agree, once again, with Pangloss. All is well, after all. Martin is, as always, impassive; he sees nothing extraordinary in the kings' stories, considering what he and Candide have already been through.
Candide learns that Cunégonde and the old woman are servants for a poor dethroned prince, and that both the Governor of Buenos Aires and a pirate took all of Cacambo's gold and jewels from Eldorado. Even worse, Cunégonde was now ugly. Candide proclaims he will love her anyway. He feels loyal to her. But he does think it a shame that she has lost her looks. Considerably deflated by the prospect of an anticlimactic reunion, Candide's mood turns sour. He asks Martin who is to be pitied more, one of the dethroned kings or himself. Martin replies that it is impossible for him to know. Candide thinks that Pangloss would know if he were still alive.
"'I do not know,' said Martin, 'what scales your Pangloss would use to weigh the misfortunes of men and to estimate their sufferings. All I presume is that there are millions of men on earth a hundred times more to be pitied than King Charles Edward, the Emperor Ivan, and the Sultan Achmet.'" Chapter 27, pg. 134
Topic Tracking: Optimism 16
Candide buys Cacambo's freedom from the sultan. They arrive at the Black Sea and Candide, Martin, and Cacambo catch a ride on a galley ship to the shores of Propontis, a sea in Turkey, to find Cunégonde even though she is ugly.
Two of the galley rowers get beaten often. Candide recognizes them as Pangloss and the Baron's son. Like most of the miraculous reunions that occur in Candide, this one is ecstatic and exaggerated.
The Baron's son shows no hard feelings toward Candide for stabbing him, while Candide addresses Pangloss as the most profound metaphysician in Germany, slightly revising Pangloss's earlier title as "the greatest philosopher in the province, and therefore the whole world" (Chapter 1, pg. 5).
Noticing the reverence with which Candide addresses Pangloss and the Baron's son, the Levantine captain inflates the price of their freedom to fifty thousand sequins. They soon reach Constantinople. Candide sells two of his diamonds, and the group of five set out to fetch Cunégonde.
Topic Tracking: Flawed Logic 12
Topic Tracking: Hypocrisy 14
Topic Tracking: Pride 7
Summary: Chapter 24
When Candide fails to find Cunégonde and Cacambo after several months in Venice, he falls into despair. He begins to agree with Martin’s claim that the world is misery. Martin scolds Candide for trusting a valet with a fortune of millions, and repeats his argument that there is “little virtue and little happiness on the earth.”
On the street, Candide sees a pretty young woman and a young monk walking arm-in-arm with happy expressions on their faces. When he approaches them, he discovers that the girl is Paquette and the monk is named Brother Giroflée. Paquette, Pangloss’s old mistress, confirms Pangloss’s story that he caught syphilis from her. A surgeon took pity on Paquette and cured her, and in return she became the surgeon’s mistress. The surgeon’s jealous wife beat Paquette every day, but the surgeon tired of his wife and poisoned her while treating her for a common cold. His wife’s family sued him, so he fled. Paquette was sent to prison but the judge granted her freedom on the condition that she become his mistress. When the judge tired of Paquette he turned her out, and she resorted to prostitution. Brother Giroflée is one of her clients, and Paquette appears happy to please him. Giroflée’s parents have forced him into the monastery to increase his older brother’s fortune. Giroflée hates the monastery because it is rife with petty intrigue. Candide gives the two money to ease their sorrows.
Summary: Chapter 25
Candide visits Count Pococurante in Venice. The wealthy count has a marvelous collection of art and books, but he is unable to enjoy any of it. He finds the paintings of Raphael unpleasant and the works of Homer, Horace, and Milton tiresome. The count once pretended to appreciate these things in front of others, but is now unable to pretend, and scorns those who “admire everything in a well-known author.” The count’s brashness astonishes Candide, who has never been trained to judge for himself, but Martin finds the count’s remarks reasonable. Candide thinks the count must be a genius because nothing pleases him. Martin explains that there is “some pleasure in having no pleasure.”
Summary: Chapter 26
During Venice’s Carnival season, Candide and Martin are dining with six strangers in an inn when they encounter Cacambo, who is now the slave of one of the six strangers. Cacambo explains that Cunégonde is in Constantinople and offers to bring Candide to her. Summoned by his master, he is unable to say any more. Candide and Martin converse with their dinner companions and discover that each is a deposed king from a different corner of Europe. One of them, Theodore of Corsica, is the poorest and least fortunate, and the others each offer him twenty sequins. Candide gives him a diamond worth one hundred times that sum. The kings wonder about his identity and the sources of his generosity.
Analysis: Chapters 24–26
Martin’s reaction to Candide’s despair at not finding Cunégonde reveals the drawback of his pessimism. Instead of attempting to comfort or even distract his friend and benefactor, Martin gloats over Candide’s distress to further confirm his own world-view. Like Pangloss’s unqualified optimism, Martin’s unqualified pessimism keeps him from taking active steps to improve the world.
Still, that pessimism is further confirmed by the story of Giroflée and Paquette, an apparently blissful young couple whose idyllic appearance masks misfortunes much like those every other character has encountered. Martin warns Candide that throwing money at their problems will not erase them, a warning that bears fruit in the remaining chapters. After all, Candide’s wealth has multiplied his problems rather than eliminated them.