Toward the beginning of the 18th century, a new ideology began to take hold of Europe. It was during this time that a radical and critical revolution took place to bring about the use of rational thought and enlighten the people about their own beliefs and values; thus igniting the period of Enlightenment. In this period many people followed the teachings of their forefathers, such as Socrates, who was considered a figure of skepticism and rational thought. Challenging all views and theorems was the main point of this new ideology. Voltaire, a very powerful and influential figure among the writers of the 18th century, was known for his rejection of religion and a devout deist. In one of his most famous works, Candide, he
Candide on the surface is a witty story. However when inspected deeper it is a philippic writing against people of an uneducated status. Candide is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truly 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.
In Candide, or Optimism, Voltaire envisions a paradise, El Dorado, where the inhabitants have all they ever need and the idea of physical wealth or excess does not
In Voltaires?s Candide, the main character, Candide, fails to live happily because he is looking outside of himself and his circumstances to do it. Voltaire says through Candide's ultimate discovery that happiness in many ways depends on a person's attitude. Voltaire's philosophy expressed through Candide's final realization is that "We must cultivate our garden," which is the key to happiness(p.585). By cultivating our garden, Voltaire means that we must make the best of our situation in the present moment. We accept what we are given in life and work to make the best of it. It all has to do with our perspective on life. We do not find happiness somewhere else or by philosophizing about it, we open our eyes to the
Voltaire’s Candide portrays an exaggerated image of human cruelty and suffering in the world. Specifically, Voltaire criticizes people’s lack of willingness to prevent suffering, and their tendency to accept the idea that there is nothing anyone can do about human outcomes. He upholds his belief that practical ways of solving problems generate improvement. He believes that human indifference and inaction cause suffering to carry on. Voltaire’s believes that naïve optimism, absolute pessimism, cruel indifference, and lack of reason hinder positive and constructive change.
Even though many people practiced this doctrine Voltaire did not aside with it instead, he implanted doubts on the chances of achieving true happiness and real conformism. Voltaire’s opinion was that one could not achieve true happiness in the real world but only experience it in an utopia. With the many hardships that Candide goes through ultimately leads him to abandon his attitude of optimism. Candide’s misfortunes and adversities often contrasted with his optimistic view on life. Noticeably, Voltaire uses this satirical piece as a way to criticize this exaggerated optimism. This tale as stated by William Bottiglia, “ Has had a great effect on modern writers who confront mankind’s inhumanity to fellow human beings by presenting the human condition absurdly, ironically, and humorously...” (Bottiglia 112).
From a young age, Candide had been taught by Pangloss to have an optimistic philosophy, and he kept those ideas with him throughout his life. Even when the people around him feared the worst and complained about their misfortunes, Candide kept going back to the idea that “everything is linked in a chain of necessity, and arranged for the best” (9). And by no means was he left untouched by various trials: he was flogged, penniless, driven from his home, shipwrecked, robbed, and doomed to leave his loved ones. Although these misfortunes make him question the necessity of tribulation, he nonetheless hoped for the best. Part of his optimism might stem from the fact that he was young and healthy, but it’s also because he cared about the welfare of those apart from himself. For instance, when he heard that Cunegondé was dead and Pangloss hanged, he cried, “If this is the best of all possible worlds, what must the others be like? …Mademoiselle Cunegonde…was it necessary for you to be disembowelled?” (16) Clearly, the reason he questioned the “rightness” of the world is because it took away the people he loved. His mourning for those who have died shows his tender innocence, but it also shows his selflessness. In fact, the reason he was so optimistic throughout the story was because of his longing for Cunegondé, his beloved, and his only wish was to be with her and keep her safe. In other words, he lived for something outside of himself, and that caused him to have hope.
Candide, along with his companion Cacambo, stumbles onto the secluded but physically speaking flawless land of Eldorado. Not even here is Candide able to find everything that he is looking for. Eldorado, which was originally the home land of the Incas, is completely sheltered from the rest of the world by the means of unsurpassable mountains. It is here that people are able to escape the evils of the world. Happiness in the real world is just a moment of happening which
In Candide Voltaire discusses the exploitation of the female race in the eighteenth century through the women in the novel. Cunegonde, Paquette, and the Old Woman suffer through rape and sexual exploitation regardless of wealth or political connections. These characters possess very little complexity or importance in Candide. With his characterization of Cunegonde, Paquette, and the Old Woman Voltaire satirizes gender roles and highlights the impotence of women in the 1800s.
Enlightenment thinkers wanted tangible, concrete evidence to back their arguments. Pangloss based his arguments on nothing. Voltaire portrays him as naïve, scorning him for not experiencing and studying the world before he becomes firmly planted in his ideas. Even after Pangloss experiences the evil ways of the world, he refuses to change his philosophy. Pangloss would rather preach something attractive to the ear rather than reality. Candide’s servant Cacambo also speaks of false optimism as he tries to console Candide over the loss of Cunegonde. He says that women are never at a loss and that God takes care of them. However, Cunegonde and the Old Woman both experienced brutality and suffering many times over in their lifetime. Cunegonde was bought, sold, and treated like a possession throughout the novel. She and the Old Woman were left vulnerable to molestation and treated like objects. The only hint of optimism in Voltaire’s novel is when Cacambo and Candide stumble upon the country of Eldorado. However, this optimism is quickly distinguished when the two men foolishly trade such a perfect society for jewels, gold, power, and influence. Eldorado is a country in which there is no organized religion, no courts or prisons, no poverty, and complete equality. Even the king is treated as a normal citizen. Candide overlooks the fact that this is a perfect society because of the ideals they practice, and believes that the riches are the most
Typically, wealth is an idea that most people view the same way, but in Voltaire’s El Dorado there is a different view of wealth being expressed that suggests peace in society, rather than the corruption for the desire of money. Voltaire criticizes wealth in “Candide”, by showing that El Dorado is paradise and the perfect society because there is no form of wealth and outside of El Dorado there is lying, cheating, and stealing being committed to gain more riches and valuables, which shows that the normal society in the world is corrupt compared to Voltaire’s image of paradise, El Dorado. The different ways that Voltaire criticizes wealth in “Candide” are how money corrupts people through lying, cheating, or stealing, how money is used to bribe other people in the story to do things that are unjust for society, and how Candide is happier being a poor man than a wealthy one. Voltaire’s El Dorado is peaceful and non-violent, while outside of the society, some people are corrupted by the idea of wealth.
Candide’s South American wanderings in many respects become the apex of the Optimistic world view. The zenith of it comes once Candide and Cacambo stumble into Eldorado. The city of Eldorado, compared to their European contemporaries, can be qualified as a utopia. Eldoradan society and law are predicated on the ideals of equality for all, unlike in European where the idea is spoken but not put into practice. Eldorado society is described to be perfect in every way. There are no courts, no prisons; it is described to be a perfect society. The idea of Eldorado can be suggested as a false hope for Candide and Optimism because of the preposterously perfect society of Eldorado. Also due to the fact that it illustrates how impossible the task would be to undertake by a European to create a similar society. This fact especially is made clear by the king of Eldorado, “We have always hitherto been safe from the rapacity of European nations with their unaccountable fondness for the pebbles and dirt off our land, and who would kill us to the very last man just to lay their hands on the stuff” (Voltaire, Candide, 48).
During the period of Enlightenment, many philosophers began a new way of thinking. For philosopher Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man, Pope believed that, “Whatever is, is right” (L. 294), in that God is in control and every human being is a part of a greater design of God. Voltaire later challenged that belief in Candide with the idea that God does not produce order, but instead, we must produce it ourselves and use reason to give our lives meaning. Pope’s position is more optimistic, while Voltaire’s position takes on a pessimistic view in that it does not allow for the belief in some sort of higher purpose. Drawing from personal experience, Pope’s belief that we perceive troubles as troubles only because
So, although life in El Dorado seems perfect, it would not be the ideal place for everyone. For example, in a conversation with the king of El Dorado, Candide discusses ideals that exist in El Dorado. In the conversation, Candide is very surprised about how harmonious El Dorado is. Candide says, "Have you no monks among you to dispute, to govern, to intrigue, and to burn people who are not the same opinion with themselves (53)." The king replies that everyone on El Dorado has the same opinion. Yet, Candide is not a person who forms his own opinion. Pangloss taught his beliefs to Candide. Candide is used to not having the same opinions as others because not many people agreed with Pangloss's views. A world where everyone agrees with one another might seem a little mundane to him. A mundane world would not be a perfect world for Candide. It seems Candide likes the excitement and the drama that a less perfect world would bring him.