The characterisation

The speed and concision which is found in the narration is found equally in the characterisation.

The characters are drawn very simply, because they serve as symbols, representing one particular feature, which illustrates an aspect of the author’s view of life.  

The characters are merely puppets?

The critic Bellesort said that Voltaire's characters are only puppets with Voltaire pulling the strings.  Voltaire is writing in the style of the majority of novels of his time and he is often parodying them.  Most of these narratives were of an episodic kind, describing the multifarious adventures of a central character or a small group of characters, and loosely strung together with numerous digressions, full of rapid movement, but lacking a tight , integrated plot and offering little psychological interest.  Characterisation was sketchy, because what mattered was action and events 
If  Bellesort is correct and these characters are merely puppets, it should be possible to sum each up in a short phrase.:

Candide is a young man of naïve innocence
Cunégonde is the romantic heroine.
The Baron is the arrogant German nobleman.
Martin is the stoical pessimist.
Cacambo is the faithful, resourceful servant.
The old lady is a  Cunégonde in old age.
Pangloss is an Optimist.

As we look more carefully at the characters, we see that there is much more to be said about them.

Candide develops.  He learns the lessons from his adventures and finally chooses his own philosophy for life.

Cunégonde is a delightful parody of the romantic heroine with the reader well aware of her egoism and her sexuality.

The Baron is an arrogant German nobleman who is also a homosexual and a Jesuit, who has unique incidents in his life story not related to his birth.

Pangloss is a philosopher in the Leibnitz mould, but is an absurdly stubborn one. He expresses the ideas of Rousseau as well, and has his reputed sexual habits.   His one remaining eye is closed to reality.

With a few strokes of the author’s pen and from their involvement in the action packed events, these characters become very much alive, in spite of the limitation of their context, which is Voltaire’s genre of the philosophical conte.

In the philosophical tale, the main importance of the characters is to represent ideas.- the importance of the ideas.  They lead us through a whirling sequence of events, which present a comprehensive picture of what life offered in the 18th century world.  The characters represent different attitudes to the problems encountered.

Detailed character study and description of the emotions felt by the characters would be irrelevant to the purpose of a book of this kind.  This said, analytical introspection is present in one passage in the book. When Candide in the company of Cunégonde was caught by the Grand Inquisitor with the body of the dead Jew at his feet, Voltaire gives us a detailed insight into candide’s thought in these frantic few seconds:
Chapter 9 Page 75
Voici dans ce moment ce qui se passa dans l'âme de Candide, et comment il raisonna: «Si ce saint homme appelle du secours, il me fera infailliblement brûler, il pourra en faire autant de Cunégonde; il m'a fait fouetter impitoyablement: il est mon rival : je suis en train de tuer; il n'y a pas à balancer.»

However this description is included exactly for the humour of its incongruity.  Voltaire is having a mischievous laugh at the style of the famous French playwright, Corneille, whose heroes always exhibited copious, eloquent rationality at the most desperate moments of crisis.

Where the characters take us

Candide is our main guide on our tour of the dreadful events that occurred across the world in the middle of the 18th century.  The other characters extend and deepen this picture of the cruel, absurd world. 

(Now summarise from the notes on Candide's character -his role in the book and his adventures page 2 & 3)

Pangloss.  Candide reviews the unfortunate events of his life: Chapter 28 page 144
Page 144:
Eh bien! mon cher Pangloss, lui dit Candide, quand vous avez été pendu, disséqué, roué de coups, et que vous avez ramé aux galères, avez-vous toujours pensé que tout allait le mieux du monde ?

Pangloss had experienced the brutal intolerance of the Spanish Inquisition and he had been constantly thrashed when he was a galley slave.

Cunégonde had seen the Bulgare soldier slit the throats of her parents,had been raped by the Bulgare soldier (Chapter 8 Page 72), was robbed of all her jewels on the way to Cadiz Chapter 10 page 76, but she had been saved from worse by her sexual charms.   

The old lady.Her story is horrendous in comparison with that of Cunégonde.  (Summarise briefly events from the old lady's story)

Different interpretations of these events are given by the various characters:

Pangloss will not deviate from his philosophy of Optimism and so he has only one interpretation.  That this was the best of all possible worlds: Chapter 1 Page 56 
dans ce meilleur des mondes possibles, le château de monseigneur le baron était le plus beau des châteaux, et madame la meilleure des baronnes possibles.
il est démontré, disait-il, que les choses ne peuvent être autrement: car tout étant fait pour une fin, tout est nécessairement pour la meilleure fin.

 If there were misfortunes these were necessary to complete the chain of being that was beneficent: Chapter 30 page 70
Tous les événements sont enchaînés dans le meilleur des mondes possibles: car enfin si vous n'aviez pas été chassé d'un beau château à grands coups de pied dans le derrière pour l'amour de mademoiselle Cuné­gonde, si vous n'aviez pas été mis à l'Inquisition, si vous n'aviez pas couru l'Amérique à pied, si vous n'aviez pas donné un bon coup d'épée au baron, si vous n'aviez pas perdu tous vos moutons du bon pays d'Eldorado vous ne mangeriez pas ici des cédrats confits et des pistaches

Martin has a pessimistic view (refer to notes on Martin )

Candide moves from naïve Optimism to the new philosophy that he adopts finally in Turkey - an Epicurean approach (refer to notes on Candide’s character )

In one respect Bellesort is correct in saying that “Candide” gives the impression of a puppet show.  The characters are knocked down in turn as in a Punch and Judy yet again they stand up, for example Pangloss and the German Baron - they disappear from the story but when the ideas or the entertainment demand  Voltaire, the master puppeteer pulls on the strings and they leap to vivid life again. 

“Candide” is much more than a puppet show however.  Its creator risked life imprisonment and worse for the writing of it.  The characters represented issues that had great meaning to readers in 18th Century Europe and possessed the power implicit in their roles.