Candide Comprehension Questions

Instructor: Elisha Madison

Elisha is a writer, editor, and aspiring novelist. She has a Master's degree in Ancient Celtic History & Mythology and another Masters in Museum Studies.

Voltaire's ''Candide'' is a satirical story of constant trial and tribulation that mocks religion and class. This lesson provides a variety of comprehension questions to aid in your students' understanding of the story.


Candide tells the story of a man who struggles with philosophical optimism, especially after seeing war, death, and poverty. However, he stays hopeful because of his desire for a woman, Cunegonde. Throughout the story they are constantly pulled apart by war and other circumstances. However, Candide continually works his way back to her. Until the very end, he finds her and she is no longer the beauty he fell in love with, however, they still get married. So Candide and Cunegonde and several others that had been at their side live together on a small farm. They are incredibly unhappy until they learn that hard work with those you care about is how you find happiness, not riches or beauty.

This story is follows Candide through prison, slavery, military oppression, religious trials, and love. Voltaire uses satire to mock religion and also mocks war and the upper-class society. Because this story has so many elements, it may confuse students. The following questions should help gauge students' understanding of the story.

Comprehension Questions on Writing Style

These questions are based on Voltaire's writing style and literary devices.

  • Does Voltaire use symbolism in Candide? What symbolism is used?
  • What is the main message of the story?
  • What are the common themes in Candide?
  • Does Voltaire use allusion? Where? Why?
  • Is there foreshadowing in the story?
  • How does Voltaire use satire to mock religion?
  • What is satire?
  • Is this a humorous story, an adventure, or drama? Why?

Comprehension Questions on Plot and Characters

The following questions focus on the story's plot and characters.

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