Living in Westphalia, Germany, Candide the optimistic is contented with his sheltered existence; not plagued by boredom, need, or vice, as he would later discover these things lead to ruin for those that do not cultivate their garden. He loves a Baron’s daughter, Cunegonde; further along in his journey this love is seemingly stricken down by superficiality, for his love for her in the end of his travels transforms. Did he ever love Cunegonde, or was he merely infatuated? To answer this question, one must define the terms. Love is an irrational but deep connection to another, while infatuation is a fleeting sense of passion for a person; temporality is all that differentiates the terms, for many assume that love must stay true, or never cease, but this is merely a hopeful imposition by those that make such an assumption. Despite the first account given of Candide’s temperament, he is far from “sound in his judgement,” or a “straightforward mind.” Candide is overly optimistic, and as irrational as the love he most certainly experienced.
By the end of Candide’s journey, he, Cunegonde, nor the world, were the same as he had known it prior to his exodus from the metaphorical Garden of Eden. He had been led astray by a philosopher with meaningless a priori logic, and later came to his own conclusions upon discovering empirically the true nature of things in the world; the reality is that love’s degree is conditional, and that the best of all possible worlds, which God created, is riddled with the problem of evil. Living in a faux paradise, Candide has endless irrationality, for it was the only thing that he had cultivated under Pangloss’ tutoring. It is the best of all possible worlds, and he loves the beautiful Cunegonde who has no choice but to inspire his love. Under the spell of this philosopher’s perspective, Candide takes no notice of the outside world; all the while, making claims about it with some sense of unjustified certainty.
This metaphorical Adam experiences The Fall when Cunegonde subjects him to cause and effect, or the knowledge of good and evil by comparison. This is where vice rears its ugly head; vice casts him from paradise, but he still loves Cunegonde. He then hastily exclaims his love for the woman with the name of femininity to the Bulgarian soldiers only to be made to run the gauntlet; Candide encounters these brutish military men for falling prey to need, and “dying of hunger.” He is beaten to the point of losing some of his skin only to saved last moment by the King of Bulgars; Pangloss’ theory of the best of possible worlds certainly ran between the rows of soldiers with Candide prior to being saved, but the King’s pretentious mercy reinvigorated Candide’s adherence to his tutor’s folly. Candide’s irrationality is exemplified in his denial of a massacre for the sake of his best of all possible worlds.
A witness to war and brutality of a magnitude only the devil could cause in God’s perfect world, Candide thinks of his love as he steps over corpses with slit throats; only love could blind someone to the deeds of the devil. In El Dorado the city of gold, where Candide finds God has moved his Garden of Eden, he is reunited with paradise, but with a new perspective of cause and effect; he suffers boredom here because of this new perspective. This boredom bolstered by his irrational connection with Cunegonde leads him to choose to abandon this new world of perfection, but none-the-less his choice to leave is for the love of his Eve. He is given mounds of yellow dirt from this paradise, and on the machine built to comfortably return him to his love he rides symbolically out of Eden for the second time, but this time by his own will. Upon his return, Candide is reunited with a Cunegonde who has been changed by the cause and effect of the world; his passion is reduced greatly, but he still chooses to marry her, for in a world full of evil Cunegonde’s brother will not stop his good deed to make her his wife. This is an act of love by the definition provided; an irrational act inspired of deep connection. Candide is not inspired by Cunegonde in the way he once was, but his love has not been completely diminished; Candide has become an advocate of rationality and empiricism together, rather than turn his rationality to irrationality by means of idealism.
His love as he knows it has found a new definition: a rational but deep connection with another. His love becomes rational because it is now predicated on straying away from vice, boredom, and need. He will now cultivate his garden with his new family he found in tribulations, for the blood of this covenant was made thick by the water of the womb of mother nature’s violent causes and effects.
He will keep himself from the three great evils by practice of reason and empiricism; for Candide realizes that ‘travels the thing’ that will release one from the hold of idealism, and that rationality will reduce the severity of the trials one experiences. Candide’s rationality is grounded in recognition of The Fall of Man. Candide most certainly loves Cunegonde, as is shown by his continuous triumph in her name. Though his love has changed in its nature, he still loves Cunegonde; for love is a deep connection to another, and he most certainly was profoundly connected to the beauty turned beast. Rationalizing love in the way Candide has done is not as beautiful as irrational love, but it is love none-the-less.
Candide’s stoicism in the name of his love over great periods of time renders the defining temporality of infatuation a nonsensical conclusion for his relationship with Cunegonde. Love is not as excessive as the authors of romantic love stories from the Enlightenment Era would portray, but that does not make every story of a love turned sour best defined by the term infatuation.