In an unexpected turn of events, I found out the hard way that Candide isn't exactly light and fluffy. The story started hilariously, so naturally, I assumed it would be a black comedy - the epitome of light and fluffy literature. But the story isn't just a comedy; it's a metaphor.
Shocker, I know.
Candide follows the adventures of Candide, a young Westphalian, who gets kicked (literally) out of his country for kissing a Baron's daughter; is forced to join the army of another nation; gets whipped; escapes to America; finds, quite by accident, El Dorado; leaves the city with incalculable treasures, only to lose all of it; witnesses all of his friends get killed; witnesses all of his friends come back to life; makes his way through Europe to meet the Baron's daughter who, through her own misfortunes, has become poor and ugly; marries the girl unwillingly but out of duty; and starts his own garden, because to suffer and toil is more tolerable than idleness.
That's the point of the story (I think): that to suffer and toil is more tolerable than idleness. I agree 100 %, having experiences this in my own life multiple times. You get to choose between the three, and it's up to you how you arrange the tier list, meaning, which of the three suits your preferences best. Generally speaking, I'd say idleness and boredom render life the least tolerable; then suffering, though it has its merits (an excuse for not doing anything meaningful, aka toil); then toil. Toil is definitely the easiest route. It makes life very tolerable indeed, life's tolerability and amount of toil being directly proportionate.
And, as always, here's my obligatory professional opinion:
The book is absolutely brilliant.
Though I'm not sure I entirely get it, apart from that suffering and toil and idleness thing, which, I have to say, was laid out quite clearly in the last chapter, requiring no use of intellect from me. The other metaphors and points in the novel were so subtly expressed that I need some more time to think.