Voltaire's Candide Term Paper

Download this Term Paper in word format (.doc)

Note: Sample below may appear distorted but all corresponding word document files contain proper formatting

Excerpt from Term Paper:

Voltaire's "Candide" is several novels rolled into one. (Homer and Hull, 1978), he returns to the life of a commoner. His life has gone full circle. From flights of fancy, he derives pleasure from one of the most basic occupations -- farming. Voltaire's epic works at several levels. His disdain for philosophies at the cost of realism is evident. Pangloss, the "metaphysico-theologo-cosmonolonigolo" ic tutor is not particularly equipped when confronted with life's harsh realities. In the long run, there is a reversal of roles: from Candide's starry eyed wonderment of Pangloss' learning, to Pangloss' life at the pleasure of Candide.

The essay will argue that in keeping with the alternative title for Candide -- Optimism -- throughout the narrative, Candide always looks ahead to the future. His travails would have put paid to most people. But his optimism and will to survive enables him to use all his abilities to protect himself and those he loves -- even by killing. There is an element of luck that perhaps veers away from the logic of the narrative. Candide's optimism and fresh-faced approach to life is fraught with na vete. Some of that na vete comes from learning concepts from the perspective of idealism from a theoretician like Pangloss. As the narrative progresses, one can consider a graph in which one axis extends from zero realism (100 per cent idealism) to the other end (of the narrative) where the relative amounts of realism and idealism are reversed.

The beginning of the narrative finds Candide living at the pleasure of one of the most powerful noblemen of Bavaria. He falls in love with the baron's daughter Cunegonde. The baron espies them kissing and casts Candide out of the castle. Thus, begin his travails. The conclusion of the narrative shows that Pangloss, Martin (another philosopher-character) and Candide cannot get away from philosophical discussion about the meaning of life and the origins of good and evil.

But in the scheme of things, these discussions merely serve as idle distractions which have no bearing on any of their lives. Indeed, the last line of the literal (English) translation sums this up well. "That's well said,' replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden.' "

So is Candide about the horrors visited upon the protagonist and those near and dear to him? Or is it that the main cast of characters find themselves in the historical scheme of things? In order to understand why Candide's story is one of a fruitful life because he came through physically and emotionally anguished times, one must obtain a perspective of the difficulties that Candide went through.

When Candide is expelled from the castle, he is conscripted into the Bulgar Army. Then he is wrongly accused of deserting. He has to choose between death and running the gauntlet 36 times, that is, being beaten by the entire Bulgar army for every time he runs the gauntlet. He is saved from certain death by the King of the Bulgars who takes pity on Candide. Eventually, Candide escapes. In Holland, he hopes to find succor. But the country is going through the effects of a war and famine. And all the protestant clergy can do is offer lame platitudes that bear little resembling social awareness. Candide challenges the clergy and he is met with remonstrations and castigations. An Anabaptist named Jacques takes Candide in and provides him with succor. Later, Candide meets Pangloss and discovers that his beloved has been murdered with her entire family. While traveling to Lisbon, Jacques drowns in a storm. Candide and Pangloss arrive in Portugal to find that it is under the control of the Inquisition. Here Candide discovers Cunegonde is alive and a sex slave of the Grand Inquisitor. Candide kills Cunegonde's enslavers and the couple escapes to Buenos Aires. Candide and Cunegonde plan to marry, but as soon as they arrive in Buenos Aires, for financial reasons she marries the governor of Buenos Aires. Pursued by the law who try to capture Candide for the murder of the Inquisitor, he escapes with a valet to an area controlled by Jesuits against the Inquisition. This place is Paraguay. The historical perspective is associated with the Conquistadors who colonized, ruled and decimated entire populations of Inca Indians in the name of the spread of Catholicism. (Caddy, 1991) In Paraguay, Candide and his compatriots are almost killed by a cannibalistic tribe called the Biglugs. They are saved only on the realization that Candide and the tribals had a common enemy -- the Jesuits. The Jesuit's commander is Cunegonde's brother who refuses Candide permission to marry his sister. Candide attacks the Baron and escapes to El Dorado where he finds untold riches. Candide wants to use his wealth to buy back Cunegonde, but loses it to an unscrupulous merchant. Later, he recovers part of it. He also discovers that Cunegonde has been enslaved again in Turkey. Candide uses his riches to buy her back. Cunegonde reunites with several friends who have been a part of his life during his adventures. Cunegonde's life has been very hard; being enslaved and abused has taken a toll on her looks. Candide keeps his promise anyway and marries her. Finally, Candide encounters a farmer who lives a simple life, works hard, and avoids vice and leisure. This serves as inspiration to Candide. Candide and his friends take to cultivating a garden in earnest. All their time and energy goes into the work, and none is left over for philosophical speculation. At last, everyone is fulfilled and happy.

Pangloss and Candide maintain, throughout the narrative, that "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." If one followed this philosophy, one would assume that God existed and his creations were perfection -- the theodicy conundrum (Mason, 1992)

Candide's character is bland, naive, and highly susceptible to the influence of stronger characters. Like the other characters, Candide is less a realistic individual but more a characteristic presented as a human being. Candide's name is derived from the Latin word candidus, which means, "white." It means na vete and innocence -- ready to be led by others. Candide begins the novel as innocent -- wide-eyed in his worship of his tutor Pangloss. Pangloss is the eternal optimist that borders on the reckless, who is out of touch with the reality of the world. Candide lets life control him. His experiences serve to acquire strength of mind and a survival instinct. Over the course of the novel, Candide's experiences cause him to question his studentship in the Pangloss School of optimism. His trusting instinct however, persists and he is frequently duped when a situation tugs at his heartstrings or pleases him. Eventually, Candide gives up philosophizing in favor of the practical labor that is introduced to him by the old farmer -- who has no claim to learning or knowledge. While this shift in philosophy appears on the surface to be real progress, Candide's personality remains essentially unchanged. He is still incapable of forming his own opinions. He exchanges blind faith in Pangloss's opinions for blind faith in the opinions of the farmer. Despite his simplicity, Candide is an effective, sympathetic hero. He is fundamentally honest and good-hearted. He is generous, charitable and trustworthy -- possessed of a soft heart. He honors his commitment to marry Cunegonde even after his love for her has faded.

One could argue that Candide's life is a horror story -- a life not worth living. How could one after undergoing the tribulations that Candide did still maintain a semblance of normalcy in his life. In keeping with the essence of Voltaire's thesis in Candide, the hero, despite his nightmarish experiences is a better person. But Candide's fresh faced approach to life and never say die approach can be revisited.…[continue]

Cite This Term Paper:

"Voltaire's Candide" (2003, October 07) Retrieved October 21, 2016, from http://www.paperdue.com/essay/voltaire-candide-153735

"Voltaire's Candide" 07 October 2003. Web.21 October. 2016. <http://www.paperdue.com/essay/voltaire-candide-153735>

"Voltaire's Candide", 07 October 2003, Accessed.21 October. 2016, http://www.paperdue.com/essay/voltaire-candide-153735

Other Documents Pertaining To This Topic

  • Voltaire s Candide and Shelley s Frankenstein

    This section of the novel opens our eyes to the real monster of the story and, as a result, we feel sympathy for the creature. His desire to learn about life and the world around him is amazing and his encounter with the De Lacey family demonstrates just how much he wants to makes friends and be a part of his "community." He teaches himself to read and attempts

  • Voltaire s Candide Blake and Kazin 1976 Contain

    Voltaire's "Candide" (Blake and Kazin, 1976) contain aspects of anti-religious sentiments. Both epics are quasi-historical -- they provide a commentary on the prevailing times; both works also provide a view into Blake and Voltaire's personal opinions and leanings. Voltaire was educated by the Jesuits -- priests belonging to the society of Jesuits. Voltaire railed against the prevailing cultural and religious mores that sought to forget socio-economic conditions to satisfy

  • Satiric Themes in Voltaire s Candide

    Warfare was obviously distasteful for Voltaire as he showed with 'Te deum' or the Christian hymn of thanksgiving. The soldiers of both the parties sing the song even though neither side was in a position to have won the battle. Voltaire showed that the atrocities of war would never be prevented even with international laws. As Voltaire depicted two armies present as a glorious spectacle, he was showing the

  • Utopia Voltaire s Candide Nowadays Is Considered to

    Utopia Voltaire's "Candide" nowadays is considered to be one of the most famous variants of a Utopia provided by authors that dedicated their works to the creation of a "perfect" society. As every book "Candide" has its plot- line, which goes through the whole book and with the help of which the author manages to show the controversy of the real world with an "ideal" one. The book by itself impresses

  • Candide Voltaire s Value of Philosophy

    Aside from Candide and Pangloss, the character who suffers the most in this novel and demonstrates that the world is far from the best of all possible places is Cudgeon's servant, the old woman. With the characterization of the old woman, Voltaire makes it quite clear that he is satirizing human suffering and the value of philosophy that seeks to endorse or even defend one's existence in such a cruel

  • Voltaire s Book Candide

    Candide In his signature work Candide, French author Voltaire offers an extensive criticism of seventeenth and eighteenth-century social, cultural, and political realities. Aiming the brunt of his satirical attack on the elite strata of society, Voltaire simultaneously criticizes some liberal Enlightenment philosophies. Voltaire mocks the authority of both Church and State, showing the corruption inherent in each. Similarly, the novel points out the insipid arrogance of the aristocracy, especially via his

  • Voltaire and Dostoyevsky Dostoyevsky s Notes From Underground

    Voltaire and Dostoyevsky Dostoyevsky's Notes from Underground and Voltaire's Candide are precisely similar works: in attempting to construct a narrative critique of a philosophical system, they slip from harsh satire into a form of sentimentality. I would suggest that comparing the two works' differing approaches to the philosophical problems of optimism, adversity, and violence are indicative of a different attitude altogether toward the philosophical problems presented. Dostoyevsky is passionate but ultimately

Read Full Term Paper
Copyright 2016 . All Rights Reserved