Candide Lesson Plan

Instructor: Josh Corbat

Josh has taught Earth Science and Physical Science at the High School level and holds a Master of Education degree from UNC-Chapel Hill.

Use this lesson plan to review Voltaire's book 'Candide' with your students. Students will read a text lesson, critically discuss the book, and take on the role of a character in a fun playacting activity.

Learning Objectives

After this lesson, students will be able to:

  • summarize Candide by Voltaire
  • describe each of the main characters in Candide, including one in great detail


60-90 minutes

Curriculum Standards


Analyze the impact of the author's choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story or drama (e.g., where a story is set, how the action is ordered, how the characters are introduced and developed).


Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in the text, including figurative and connotative meanings; analyze the impact of specific word choices on meaning and tone, including words with multiple meanings or language that is particularly fresh, engaging, or beautiful.


NOTE: This lesson is best utilized after a reading of Candide by Voltaire. Students will need at least a basic understanding of the main characters.

  • Begin the lesson by briefly reviewing the work Candide by Voltaire with your students. Have them take turns telling the main plot points to refresh their memories.
  • Distribute the text lesson Voltaire's Candide: Summary & Analysis.
  • Have students ignore the first section for now (in which all the characters are described). Instead, skip directly to the Analysis section.
  • Have students read the 'Genre' subsection. Discuss the following questions as a class:
    • What genres are often attributed to Candide? Why?
    • Do you agree with these classifications? Why or why not?
  • Have students read the 'Purpose, Audience and Tone' subsection. Discuss the following:
    • What purpose was Voltaire theorized to have in writing this piece?
    • Who was his supposed audience?
    • What was the tone with which he wrote?
    • Do you agree with these assessments? Why or why not?
  • Have students read the remainder of the lesson. Discuss:
    • What controversy still surrounds this work?
    • What is your take on these controversies?

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