- O che sciagὺra d'essere scenza coglioni!
This novel provides examples of:
- All Musicals Are Adaptations: An operetta by Leonard Bernstein. It's Lighter and Softer.
- Answering Echo: In the Bernstein operetta, the Inquisition delivers its judgments this way.Three Inquisitors: Are our methods legal or illegal?
Three Inquisitors: Are we judges of the law, or laymen?
Three Inquisitors: Shall we hang them or forget them?
Basses: Get them!
- Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted with Cunegonde and the Old Woman.
- Black Comedy/Kafka Komedy
- Break the Cutie: Happens for several characters:
- Candide is chased from the castle where he lived his entire live before that, sees several people die and observes the misery in the world.
- Bury Your Gays: The Baron's son is heavily implied to be gay, and he's the only one of the recurring characters who at the end is shipped off to be a Galley Slave.
- Call to Agriculture: In the end, Candide and his friends retire to subsistence living; the moral of the book is basically Candide's last line, "We must cultivate our garden". The operetta ends with the gorgeous choral number "Make Our Garden Grow".
- Casting Couch: Heavily implied in having helped Cunegonde's brother to progress in the Jesuit order.
- City of Gold: El Dorado.
- Contrived Coincidence: Parodied; characters frequently run into people they've met before in other parts of the world.
- Crapsack World: Though the story's point is "It's not the best of all possible worlds, but at least it's not the worst."
- Dark and Troubled Past: The Old Woman has this: Made a Slave and raped by pirates, lost her mother, ended in several harems, contracted the plague, had her left buttock eaten by starved janissaries, captured by the Russians and, finally, ended working for don Issachar. It doesn't help that she's the daughter of Pope Urban X by an Italian princess.
- Dastardly Whiplash: Don Fernando de Ibaraa, y Figueora, y Mascarenes, y Lampurdos, y Suza, who is described as carrying his nose so high, raising his voice mercilessly, and so on, that everyone who greeted him was tempted to hit him. In the next paragraph, he is also described as stroking his mustache and smiling malevolently.
- Dirty Old Monk: Brother Giroflée goes to the Red Light District.
- The Ditz: Candide himself.
- Everybody Calls Him Barkeep: The Old Woman is only referred as such.
- Five-Man Band
- Dumb Is Good: Candide is a generally good person, if a bit naive.
- Gallows Humor: Pangloss gets syphilis. It's Played for Laughs. In Bernstein's operetta he gets a whole song about it.
- Hands Off My Fluffy: The heroes rescue some women running from apes and it turns out the apes were their husbands.
- Hidden Elf Village: El Dorado.
- I Was Quite a Looker: The Old Woman.
- Literal Asskicking: The way Candide is kicked out of the castle.
- Living MacGuffin: Cunegonde.
- Made a Slave: Happens with the Old Woman, Cunegonde and her brother.
- The Man They Couldn't Hang: Pangloss.
- Meaningful Name: Several. Candide is one letter away from "candid", Pangloss means "all tongue" in Greek, and Pococurante is Italian for "caring little."
- No Good Deed Goes Unpunished: Jacques tries to save a sailor from drowning, only to fall overboard himself and drown. The sailor walks off without so much as a "thank you."
- No Party Like a Donner Party: The janissaries besieged by the Russians in Azow eat their servants and the Old Woman's left buttock to keep their promise to hold to the last.
- Opposed Mentors: A classic example in which the title character falls under the influence of Pangloss and Martin, who are at opposite ends of the Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism.
- The Philosopher: Pangloss and Martin.
- Pinball Protagonist: Candide.
- The Pollyanna: Candide is perhaps the early prototype. In spite of constant tragedy, he does his best to maintain Pangloss' philosophy of "all is for the best in this best of all possible worlds". He does find himself wavering to maintain this over time, and in the end abandons it completely. "Pangloss" is actually a synonym for "Pollyanna" in most thesauruses. Pangloss himself says by the end of the book that he (unsurprisingly) no longer believes this, but it would be improper for a philosopher to change his opinion.
- Rape as Backstory: Cunegonde and the Old Woman have this.
- Rape, Pillage, and Burn: The castle where Candide lived is subjected to this.
- Refuge in Audacity: To put it simply, Voltaire probably wrote one of the most epic Crack Fics even before the name was coined!
- Refuge in Vulgarity
- Rousseau Was Right: Inverted with extreme prejudice.
- Sliding Scale of Idealism Versus Cynicism: Despite what Pangloss says, this story abides in cynicism. Martin happily occupies the cynicism end. The Musical, slightly less so.
- The Spanish Inquisition: Candide and Pangloss fall into the hands of the Inquisition when Pangloss' optimistic philosophy brands them as heretics. They are tortured, Pangloss is hanged, and Candide learns that the Grand Inquisitor is corrupt as all get-out, and joined a corrupt merchant in horribly mistreating Cunegonde.
- Straw Critic: The politician who is so well-read that he is incapable of enjoying anything.
- Strawman Political: Pangloss, duh.
- Take That: Pangloss is an obvious parody of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz (yes, that Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz). The phrase "the best of all possible worlds" is lifted directly from his work.
- By chronological proximity it is also aimed at Leibniz's student Christian Wolff, who was massively popular in Europe for a long time for writing books on The Theme Park Version of Leibniz's rather abstract philosophy.
- The whole work is a massive Take That to Rousseau himself, with whom Voltaire was on bad terms at the time.
- There are several petty shots at Voltaire's personal enemies throughout the book.
- Bertrand Russell notes in "A History of Western Philosophy" that Leibniz' published, optimistic philosophy was intended as pandering to attract noble and rich patrons (with great success); his sincere and less-optimistic philosophy remaining hidden in a drawer until after his death.
- Unexplained Recovery: Occurs frequently to major characters, Played for Laughs.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Cunegonde's brother still refuses to let Candide marry his sister after being freed from slavery by him. The Bury Your Gays example above is well deserved.
- War Is Hell: The narrator describes sarcastically a battle between the Bulgarians and the Abarians and deconstructs War Is Glorious, noting how both commit atrocities, while only speaking about those of the other side.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: The central theme, which is brutally demolished over the course of the book.
- Worthless Yellow Rocks: The children of El Dorado play with gemstones; they're common there and have no other use. A classic example.