How Does Candide Become a Soldier in the Bulgarian Army?

Candide’s adventures and misfortunes begin when he is expelled from the castle for his kiss with Cunégonde, the Baron’s beautiful daughter. In order not to starve to death, Candide is recruited into the Bulgarian army. There he is beaten ruthlessly for a desertion attempt. Later, he barely escapes death in a bloody battle and runs to Holland.

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Candide is brought up in an impoverished castle of a haughty Westphalian baron along with his son and daughter. Their home teacher, a self-professed metaphysical philosopher, teaches children that they live in a perfect world. He explains that everything has a cause and effect, and events tend to a happy ending.  

But the quiet and calm life in the castle ends. Baron knocks Candide out into the street. Candide is unprepared for the savage world. Hungry and desperate, he comes to an inn in a neighboring town. The hero meets two Bulgarian soldiers there. They tell him that he has a perfect body for a military man and a “proper height”. Then they ask Candide if he loves the Bulgarian King. He answers: “Not at all… for I have never seen him.” But he agrees to drink for the King’s health.

The soldiers promise Candide good fortune and endless glory. Thus, he gets to the regiment. On the first day, the protagonist receives 30 cudgel blows. The next day, he is already more diligent and receives only 20.

The military is among the central institutions of Voltaire’s criticism. He does not focus on soldiers’ courage or heroism but depicts them as rascals. Life in the army is so disciplined that one can be executed just for going for a walk. 

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