Best ideas were expressed through Candide. This supports Locke’s

Best known for his novel, Candide, Arouet, François-Marie(1694-1778) wrote this classic story and many other literary works under the false name of Voltaire.  Candide was originally published in January 1759 by Gabriel Cramer in Amsterdam, Geneva, and Paris.  I believe my teacher chose this particular novel for me because it was written during the French Enlightenment, a period in French history when the social norms of classic European society were being challenged and changed. The book directly connects to my studies because of the ties between what surrounds the character Candide and what actually happened during this important period in French history. For example, John Locke developed an ideology of knowledge that made a truly great impact “Locke’s philosophy implied that people were molded by their environment and by whatever they perceived through their senses from their surrounding world”. This relates directly to Candide’s bumbling nature. Since Candide was accompanied by Dr. Pangloss, an acclaimed philosopher with ludicrous ideas, Pangloss’s absurd ideas were expressed through Candide. This supports  Locke’s theory, and it impacts Candide’s decisions throughout the novel. This book is useful to my course of studies because it demonstrates through satire and parody, how Voltaire was critical of  “conventional” European society. Based on how certain characters in Candide are developed, Voltaire’s writings also demonstrate how he and others were fed up with the controls imposed by traditional European society. For example, Pangloss, who Candide believes is a great philosopher, is in actuality a fool. The characterization of Pangloss demonstrates how the philosophes, including Voltaire, were critical of the Old World cultural norms that were common at the time and supported the belief that society was ready for a change. Similarly, the philosopher Pangloss is represented in the novel as someone who does not have progressive ideas or make logical decisions – as one philosophe would see those who did not support the Enlightenment. Candide was also an important novel because of the way in which it spread progressive ideas that could be easily understood, through satire and humor.  By expressing ideas and opinions in this clever way, Voltaire was able to reach a much broader audience with his progressive ideas about social structure and religion.As a result, this led to many more people supporting the changes in society that were part of the Enlightenment. Voltaire wrote the satirical novel Candide to show the reader that everything is not “a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds” and to inform readers of the problems religious and cultural intolerance with the “nobility, philosophy, the church, and cruelty”. By addressing these topics in his novel, Voltaire was able to accomplish his goal of expanding the reader’s knowledge of the world’s issues. From a certain perspective, he performed, entertained, and persuaded readers.  He also informed the reader by commenting on European society. He addressed this more directly when he describes the corruption of nobility in Candide when he writes about an extremely wealthy man who says “They are said to be the finest things in Italy, but they do not please me at all.” while addressing expensive artwork. Voltaire saw most nobility, the aristocracy and the very wealthy as very spoiled people who are never satisfied with their riches. It is ironic that Voltaire wrote the novel Candide at the same time that Louis XV’s was redecorating his palace Versailles at the time that France was on the verge of financial bankruptcy.Voltaire clearly meant to entertain his readers by writing Candide in a comical and humorous manner. “The story was written similarly to the three stooges”, where the main character Candide, a not very bright man, embarks on a journey to find Miss Cunegonde, a beautiful girl whom he hopes to eventually marry. However, because of poor judgment and his continued worship of Dr. Pangloss, a man who has preposterous ideas and philosophies, Candide nearly gets himself killed several times. Voltaire persuades his readers by basing many of the novel’s characters off of his experiences and negative opinions of French society.  Pangloss’s main saying is “all is for the best” which is shown to be definitely not true through the tragedies of the story.  However, it was written because before the Enlightenment a common idea imprinted from the church was that God decided all so therefore, all was for the best with no flaws. But, Voltaire’s idea was that “the universe was like a clock, and God was the clockmaker who had created it, set it in motion, and allowed it to run according to its own natural laws”. In order to impress these ideas on his audience, Voltaire decided to make the only man who believed in the concept “all is for the best” seem idiotic. This steered his audience to conclude that the entire concept was simply wrong. Candide was intended to persuade the uninformed people living during the period, as a way for Voltaire to press his own ideas about changing European society. Through Candide, Voltaire was able to convey multiple messages to his readers.  One Important message was that God was not a perfect being who had no flaws. This message is repeated throughout the novel whenever the character Pangloss sees no fault with God by saying “all is for the best” – despite multiple tragedies and horrific events! Another important message is the concept that extreme wealth and power ultimately leads to corruption. This idea is again conveyed at the end of the book when Candide, despite being incredibly rich, was still not happy. Even though he was able to bribe himself out of almost any situation, Candide seemed to be more unhappy than he was before. Pangloss was inspired by those who believed in organized religion and his strong belief led him to look very stupid in the eyes of the reader. Throughout the novel, Voltaire wanted to make those who did not believe in his ideas about religion seem unintelligent. Ironically, Voltaire understood religion very well since he was ” educated by Jesuits at the Collège Louis-le-Grand in Paris”. For a large part of his life, Voltaire was surrounded by religion.  Despite his “criticism for organized religion”,   Voltaire still believed in God and the morals associated with religion.  Perhaps this is why the most humane and kind character in Candide was the Anabaptist James, who was a generous man who helped Candide by nurturing him and even cured Pangloss of syphilis. In the end, Voltaire’s point of view clearly influences my understanding of Candide. Instead of just thinking about Candide as a humorous and entertaining story, I now think of the novel as propaganda as well. Specifically, Voltaire’s opinions and ideas during the Enlightenment weaved their way into the story.The book Candide begins with Candide kissing the Baron’s daughter, Miss Cunegonde, which leads him to be kicked out of the castle. Soon after, an army of Barbarians attack the castle and everyone presumably dies. However, Candide finds out that Dr. Pangloss survived and the Anabaptist James nurses them both to health. James even cures Pangloss of syphilis before he tragically dies in a shipwreck. Candide and Pangloss are then accused of having non-christian beliefs and are given a death sentence.  Pangloss is hanged, but Candide is rescued by an old woman who leads him to the, not at all dead, Miss Cunegonde.  Since the attack, Miss Cunegonde had been sold between several men, and she was currently being shared between two men who Candide slew on the spot before all three flee.  Miss Cunegonde is then persuaded by a rich Governor to marry him for his wealth and her own welfare. Candide then meets a valet named Cacambo, but some men come looking for Candide after the slaying of one of Miss Cunegonde’s owners. This leads them to flee once more to a Jesuit controlled territory where they find Miss Cunegonde’s brother, the baron.  Candide explains his plans to marry Miss Cunegonde, and he stabs the baron after he says that Miss Cunegonde would never marry a common man like Candide. After fleeing into the woods, Candide and Cacambo scarcely escape being eaten alive. However, they then enter the utopian land of Eldorado, which is filled with riches and no value placed on the mass amounts of jewels and gold. This land also has no religion or government. Taking advantage of their good fortune, Candide and Cacambo leave with 100 sheep embedded with jewels and gold in their wool.  Candide sends others to buy back Miss Cunegonde but is robbed of a large portion of riches by a greedy man. In light of this, Candide chooses a man named Martian to journey with him to get Miss Cunegonde back.  Candide socializes with the aristocracy, all of whom are very impressed in his wealth. On the way, Candide gets back most of his riches because the greedy man’s boat sinks.Candide takes this event as a sign that one should have a blind faith in God and believe Pangloss’s theory that everything is always for the best. After They arrive in Venice, Candide and Martin find Paquette who is then able to lead them to Lord Pococurante. Pococurante is an unbelievably rich man who is able to afford anything he wants. However, none of this pleases him.  Candide then finds that Cacambo, who is now a slave, and, and he tells him how to find Miss Cunegonde.  In order to repay him, Candide buys  Cacambo his freedom. Candide then finds Dr. Pangloss and the Baron as ship slaves, and Candide buys their freedom too. After finding Miss Cunegonde and the old woman as slaves, Candide pays their ransom too.  Even though Miss Cunegonde has grown ugly, Candide decides to love her anyway.  The novel ends with everyone living happily together in a garden that demands so much hard work that there is no room for philosophical conjectures of any kind. Throughout the novel, Candide consistently makes efforts to find Miss Cunegonde, reinforcing the theme of love. When Pangloss is hanged at the beginning of the novel and Candide is faced with whippings, his only thought was “Oh, Miss Cunegonde, thou pearl of girls! That thou should’st have had thy belly ripped open”! Later on and after leaving Eldorado with his newfound riches “Candide had no other desire, no other aim than to present his sheep to Miss Cunegonde”.  This is important because it means that through all of the wealth he has just received, Candide can only think of the life he has for Miss Cunegonde and the need to have her back. Although Candide has traveled to the ends of the earth to find Miss Cunegonde, it is revealed that she has not even written a letter when Candide is asked “she writes charming letters?’ ‘I have never received any from her,’ said Candide”.  This shows that although Candide has an undying love for Miss Cunegonde, she clearly doesn’t feel the same way, and she is perfectly happy in her life with the rich Governor. This even ties into the conventions at the time of the Enlightenment class. Miss Cunegonde clearly does not know that Candide has, in fact, become very wealthy, perhaps if she knew this she would have cared enough to send him letters.  Yet, despite this one-sided relationship and even after Candide is told that Miss Cunegonde has grown ugly because of the hard working conditions of being a slave, Candide answers “Well handsome or ugly,’ replied Candide, ‘I am a man of honor, and it is my duty to love her still”. This again shows the undeniable love that Candide feels towards Miss Cunegonde.  Even though he fell in love because of her beauty, Candide is so deeply in love that he does not care. This is significant because, in this time period, men (especially wealthy men) would fall in love with women for looks alone.   However, Candide is willing to accept Miss Cunegonde for who she is- with or without beauty.  Perhaps Voltaire included this theme as a way to show Candide’s obsessive stubbornness and how he is truly different from other men in the novel. Many times in the novel, Candide thinks about Miss Cunegonde during the most irrelevant situations. The fact that he is willing to travel anywhere for the mere chance of seeing Miss Cunegonde again shows his persistence. Candide is also different from other men in the novel because of his loyal and loving nature, something that Voltaire leads us to believe is very rare in Candide’s world.  By adding the key theme of love, Voltaire was not only able to add humor, but also an extra dimension to Candide’s character that he is willing to travel anywhere for the one he loves.Candide consistently gets treated differently throughout the story based upon his perceived wealth, and therefore Voltaire is able to highlight and criticize the connection between wealth, social status and class, and the inhumane treatment of the poor. At the beginning of the novel, Candide is on the street starving, and he begs people passing by for bread – to which one man says “Thou dost not deserve to eat,’ Said the other ‘Begone, rogue; begone, wretch; do not come near me again”.  Volare is able to show that when Candide is on the street, people treat him like sidewalk trash. He is a poor and starving man, and no one is willing to help him. This reinforces the fact that during Voltaire’s time, people with no money and no home were treated very poorly by society. Later in the novel, after Candide returns from Eldorado, the land of riches, he is treated much differently.  However,  just being rich is not without risk since Voltaire shows Candide being taken advantage of by others around him. When Candide asks a man to sail him to Italy, the man soon realizes that Candide is very rich and sets sail with Candide’s riches without him. Candide was dumbfounded “he had lost sufficient to make the fortune of twenty monarchs”.  Although Candide eventually gets his riches back, it is still an important point that thievery and dishonesty affect both rich and poor. Later, Candide gets sick while staying at an inn in France. Because he “had a very large diamond on his finger, and the people of the inn had taken notice of a prodigiously heavy box among his baggage, there were two physicians to attend him, though he had never sent for them, and two devotees who warmed his broths”. Voltaire demonstrates the point that the wealthy are treated much differently (better) than everyone else in society. The fact that Candide did not ask for or even demand this special treatment but still receives it demonstrates how European society during Voltaire’s time reinforced this class structure. The people at the inn clearly believed Candide was a member of the upper class simply because of his ring, and without any further information, they treated him differently.  Because he was new to the rich lifestyle, Candide was not used to expecting to be served without being asked.  This was quite a different experience than when  Candide was a common street beggar.  Voltaire also included the theme of class and wealth because he wanted to show how much a person’s life path depends upon their wealth and social status. During Voltaire’s time, a peasant’s path led to hard labor, poverty, hunger and a short life, while a nobleman’s road was paved with infinite riches and filled with whatever they desired. Through Candide’s highs and lows, Voltaire was able to show both ends of the economic spectrum, and show to the reader how different they truly are.

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