Essay on Voltaire’s Candide: A Typical Enlightenment Work

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Candide as a Typical Enlightenment Work

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.

Candide has reason only in the form of a companion upon which he relies for advice. His companion is Dr. Pangloss. He consistently dribbles to Dr. Pangloss about what should be done. Eventually Pangloss is killed by being hanged. But this means that
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For example L'Hospital's 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 "L'Hospital's Rule," not Bernoulli's rule who is the one who "invented" it (Bottiglia 310).

Candide is consistently being brainwashed by reason (Pangloss) saying that we live in "the best of all possible worlds", while it is 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... I'll 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], I'm 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).
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