Candide: The Irony of the Kid Turned Killer

Topics: Candide

In Voltaire’s novela, Candide, the author writes a story with extreme hyperbole of social destruction with rape, slavery, and violence. “Candide drew his sword, and though he was the gentlest, sweet tempered young man breathing, he whipped it into the Israelite” (36). In chapter 9, Voltaire offers an irony from innocence to violence to show that even among people of innocence, extreme violence and evil can appear suddenly. With this sentence Voltaire, shows in Candide slaying of the Jew and the Inquisitor and the reaction of the old woman to flee.

In the ninth chapter of Voltaire’s Candide, chaos up rises after Candide is confronted with violence. Candide is caught being passionate with Cunegonde by Issachar, who is also referred to as the most choleric Hebrew. After Issachar draws his sword, Candide slays him with his own sword, knowing that the Jew would have done the same. Issachars body falls right in front of Cunegonde and she cries out to the Holy Virgin.

The old woman starts to give advice to Cunegonde when the Inquisitor walks into see the slain body of the Jew and Candide’s bloody sword, Candide fears that he will reveal his crime, so out of fear of consequence; he also slays The Inquisitor. The old woman then offers to escape by horse to Cadiz. The three flee there by horse through the Sierra Morena. Candide is made out to be a very innocent and naive character to be capable of violence in the first chapters of the book.

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However, when he is confronted by the armed Issachar, he is quick to kill. “he whipped it into the Israelite, and laid him sprawling on the floor” (36). The quote shows that Candide quickly killed Issachar and left him to die in a very cruel way: bleeding out and screaming on the floor. There isn’t any type of dialogue from Candide before he kills his confronter. Candide takes an unlikely change in character very quickly which shows the irony from once being innocent to now being a murderer that leaves his victim on the floor suffering to exist.

The irony becomes even greater when Voltaire adds a hyperbole of violence. This is shown when Candide commits his second murder of the Inquisitor. In this act of violence there isn’t any dialogue from any character.” ‘I will kill away, for there is no time to hesitate'” (38). This shows that Candide is now even less pure and even quicker to kill someone who he believes to the threat. This level of irony being offered by Voltaire might suggest that under extreme pressure, no one can actually be pure. However, Voltaire offers a method to madness for Candide and why he was so quick to kill the Inquisitor and the Hebrew.” ‘when a man is in love, is jealous, and whipped by the Inquisition, he is no longer himself'” (38). This dialogue by Candide shows that he does indeed have the desire for vengeance and jealousy to act as a catalyst of rage for murder caused by confrontation. Voltaire might have been hinting that even the best people have these emotions and they can come out in violence when mixed with fear.

The third example of abrupt change from innocence to violence is the complete disregard of evil in Candide by the old woman and her suggestion to flee. “The old woman then put into her word, ‘There are three Andalusian horses in the stale'” (38). The old woman does not even question the murder of the inquisitor and offers an escape for Candide, even though the Inquisitor did not directly threaten Candide and the decision to take his life was made by Candide alone without any dialogue. The old woman’s character seems to be just and only a victim to violence when she is previously described in the book, which makes it seem ironic that when Candide slays without explanation she is so quick to go along and offer Candide a way to escape. Voltaire might suggest that even good people will flee and help their evil friends get away with wrong doing because they are their friend. She might have done this to escape the consequence of the murders just as Candide did so that she can still have an opportunity to regain wealth.

Violence in Candide is not always bloody but also sexual. When the kingdom is raided, Cunegonde is beaten and raped by many of the raiders, but still claims to be pure.” “They did not rip you open as the philosopher Pangloss informed me?” Indeed, but they did,’ replied Miss Cunegonde; ‘But these two accidents do not always prove mortal.’ “(31). This dialogue shows that when Candide confronts Cunegonde about being beaten and raped, she does not acknowledge the traumatic evil that she experienced. Cunegonde might be brushing off her violation because she does not want Candide to desire her less, so she still claims to be pure in hope to appeal to others. This part of the novela might be Voltaire showing that when we are confronted about dark times that people won’t take ownership of what happened in order to get what they want or what they want out of others.

Finally, Voltaire’s novela has many instances of extreme violence with either bloody or rape. This kind of violence is used as a hyperbole to create a ridiculous situation from which the reader an easily receive the message of the text. Candide has many hyperboles to show the irony in situations that can make innocent/ pure people quickly become evil when confronted by a situation where their wants will not be met.

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Candide: The Irony of the Kid Turned Killer. (2022, Mar 03). Retrieved from

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