Analysis of Candide by Voltaire

Published: 2021-08-06 10:40:06
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Candide written by Voltaire {real name was Francois-Marie Arouet} was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Voltaire was famous not only for his book Candide but for his criticism and stabbing of Christianity mostly the Roman Catholic Church, acceptance of his speech and etc. Candide was published January 1759 in Geneva Paris, it was written between July and December of 1758. Our teacher assigned us, Candide, because A) Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, and B) it showed the insight of what happened in that time period the 16th century. This book is sort of useful in our course of study because it turns a time where change started to happen into a little fictional story/novel. Candide has a lot of useful information dealing with The Enlightenment through the 17th and 18th centuries. Candide also mentions some level of corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the army.
“Voltaire believed above all in the efficacy of reason. He believed social progress could be achieved through reason and that no authority—religious or political or otherwise—should be immune to challenge by reason.”1 Voltaire most likely wrote Candide to show the world or naive people the horrors peasants would go through or corruption there is in the world. Things needed to change for the greater good and everything was not alright. Many events influenced Voltaire to write Candide one major event was the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 this occurred in the kingdom of Portugal. This earthquake followed by the tsunamis killed 60,000 people and destroyed around a couple thousand buildings. After the shipwreck with Candide and Pangloss, they wash up to a town in ruins from the earthquake scavenging for food to survive. The Seven Years War was also another event that helped influence the creation of Candide. The Seven Years War or French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763 involving Every great European power at the time EX: France Britain etc. The Seven Years War ended with The Treaty of Paris in 1763. When Candide is in battle Voltaire mocks the army by calling them heroes while describing the explicit and violent act the soldiers are doing. Candide was a satire comic and novel meant to give enlightenment to real-world issues while keeping the reader interesting.
In Candide government, Philosophy, science, and many more controversial topics back then were mocked which reached out to the public in this way Voltaire was able to inform and entertain the audience. The type of audience Candide is meant for was the somewhat educated but naive people in Europe then as the book spread for everyone. Due to the Roman Catholic Church banning the production of Candide more and more people were compelled to get their hands on it to see why it was banned. This helped spread Voltaire’s opinions and thoughts giving him popularity and a voice people would listen to. Voltaire gets his views off in Candide very easily at some points and at others it’s very hard to notice he does it in a jokingly manner most of the time to keep people hooked in. Trying to comprehend what Voltaire’s ideas or point of view it is somewhat challenging due to it being three centuries old it’s written differently than usual assigned books. Some ideas Voltaire tried to get across through Candide was mocking philosophers some of their beliefs were idiotic. “Candide learns the principles of optimism from his mentor, Pangloss, and one of the central tenets of his philosophy is that “since everything was made for a purpose, everything is necessarily for the best purpose.” Voltaire satirizes this philosophy by showing its absurdity through hyperbole.”
Some key themes in Candide are violence in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Enlightenment obviously, love, and philosophy vs different beliefs and mocking religion a little. Voltaire put topics and moments of enlightenment in Candide so people can open their minds to new topics to push society forward since not everyone was as smart as him. In Candide, Candide is constantly chasing his love Cunegonde and when he finally gets reunited she is old withered down and stuck with her. The violence in this novel is gruesome women getting raped dismembered and cut into pieces in chapter three “there several young virgins whose bodies had been ripped open after they had satisfied the natural necessities of the Bulgarian heroes.”3 throughout the whole entire book people are killed in gruesome ways like the Baron Cun©gonde’s brother when he says Candide cannot marry his sister Candide stabs him. Voltaire makes a mockery of religion and philosophy in Candide one being the concept of main characters dying and coming back. Another like mentioned before is Pangloss belief that everything happens for the best outcome. When Pangloss tells Candide he has syphilis he says it was meant to be because if Columbus never raped so many Indians and brought it to Europe they would have never had chocolate. Throughout the whole book, Pangloss keeps insisting that everything bad happening is the best possible choice for example when Candide and Pangloss wash up ashore after a shipwreck.
From hearing a summary I thought it would be an amazing novel but slowly reading it, it was confusing making it a novel I wouldn’t recommend to kids, not in high school. For a book that is over one hundred pages, it would be a somewhat fast pace but everything is crammed together as if Voltaire rushed it. One paragraph you’ll be in one area the next paragraph you will be in completely different scenery. It’s a novel where you have to re-read it more than once if you don’t understand some references and obviously do some research to understand.

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