Candide By Voltaire

Candide on the surface is a witty, gelastic story. However when inspected deeper
it is a philippic writing against people of an uneducated status. Candid is an
archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is
truely irking, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds. Thus
Voltaire uses a witty, bantering tale on the surface, but in depth a cruel
bombast against the ignoramuses of his times. Candide has reason only in the
form of a companion upon which he relies for advice. His companion is of course
Dr. Pangloss. He consistently dribbles to Dr. Pangloss about what should be
done. At last to the happiness of readers Pangloss is killed by being hanged.

But this means that Candides reason is also dead! No problem he just goes
finds a new companion, Lacking him Pangloss, lets consult the old
woman (37). He soon loses her, gains another, looses him, and then gains
another. Thus we see that Candide can only think if he has a companion. Voltaire
is thus saying that all the nobles are really idiots and says they are only
smart because they have philosophers. This is typically Enlightenment, because
nobles, are stupid and must have philosophers to make them Enlightened. For
example LHospitals a French Noble had in his possession
mathematicians that developed new ways of taking limits (a Calculus idea). Yet
in today’s society we call this way LHospitals Rule, not
Bernoullis rule who is the one who invented it (Stewart 310). Candide
is consistently being brainwashed by reason (Pangloss) saying that we live in
the best of Yet it quite obviously that he does not. For how can there be, in
the best of all worlds, war, slavery and many more abominations. Half-way
through the book it would appear that Candide has given up his optimism when he
looked at the Negro slave. Oh Pangloss… Ill have to give up your
optimism at last (73). But to the distress of the readers he has not given up
his chafing optimism. Since I found you an Eldoradian sheep laden with
stones, Im sure I can find Cunegnde again (79). Thus we see that he has
quickly recovered his optimism. Voltaire is using Candide’s blatant optimism to
relate to the people of his time that also have the same type of optimism. He
also bombasts the philosophy that states all actions are a part of an
illustrious, benevolent cosmic plan. It is Pangloss who says it is impossible
to for things to be where they are. For all is well (30). What Pangloss is
saying that a thing greater then man (God) has everything laid out, and
everything is for the best (30). It is here that Voltaire’s attack on
Christianity begins. He bombasts them for believing that all the world is a
stage, and that God has written the script. This idea of predestination is the
antithesis of the Enlightenment period, and thus it is only natural that
Voltaire, a typical Enlightenment writer, harangue these notions by means of a
person who believes in this until his death- Candide. Finally we can see that
Voltaire is writing a typical Enlightenment work because Candide is a jeremiad
against those people that are lacking Enlightenment knowledge, by this of
course, lacking the epitomes of the period: reason, senses and self-interest.

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Thus Voltaire is using a charming story to attack the people of his time who are
against or are not Enlightened. Many other writers also attacked the ignoramuses
of their time. For example Montesquie, a French philosopher use The Persian
Letters to bombast French culture. Hence one reason that Candide is typically
Enlightenment is because it makes fun of the reader who thinks that it is merely
a comical story of a man and a quest for his lover.

English Essays


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