Candide is a satire novel written by French historian and philosopher, François-Marie Arouet, also known as Voltaire. This book was published back in 1759, and was published in Geneva, Paris, and Amsterdam all at the same time. This book has a lot of historical context.
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It talks about events such as the Seven Years’ War and the 1755 Lisbon earthquake. Voltaire is also critiquing the hypocritical religion, armies, and corrupt and unstable government from this time period. This book is utilized by world history courses around the world, for its deep historical meanings, and for students to develop a complex understanding of the time period. Voltaire wrote this book to put his input on the horrible events that were taking place during the time period. He wanted to speak against the disasters, and make fun of things he found to be hypocritical or stupid such as violation of human rights, organized religion, and when leaders abuse their authority. With this story, Voltaire was looking to entertain his audience, and the book was intended for everyone.
Voltaire knew he’d be facing harsh criticism with the book, because of his strong beliefs. Voltaire believed that humans were stupid, and very few were inherently smart. He also believed that the Roman Catholic Church was hypocritical, and that believed religion and government should be separate. He had been punished and imprisoned multiple times for his beliefs and writings. Yet he continues to write no matter the consequence. The message that Voltaire conveys in this novel is that life is not perfect. He is trying to illustrate that even if you think your life is bad, there are people who have it even worse, and that is shown through all the different people that Candide meets on his journey. Throughout his life, Voltaire has had to deal with religious hypocrisy, he even grew up with education at a Jesuit school, so religion has always been around him. It’s the same with humans abusing power, and humans not being smart. He grew up with this around him, and he felt that he needed to express this in parts of the book. The way Voltaire writes this book, influences the readers to agree with him. Since Voltaire’s writing is subtly persuasive, it ends up persuading the reader without them realizing it. It tends to make anyone reading it with an open mind to agree. Voltaire’s purpose to write this book was to speak on on issues, to entertain his readers, and to slightly persuade readers on his controversial thoughts. Candide is a book about a teenage boy named Candide, who is an illegitimate son of a baron. He grows up in the castle, and he grows up with the teachings of a philosopher named Pangloss. He travels with pangloss ans well, and learns more about his philosophy on the journey.
Candide sees the baron’s daughter, Cunegonde, and instantly “falls in love” with her. Once the baron sees both of them kissing, and he immediately kicks Candide out, literally. After Candide is kicked out, he goes on many different adventures in many different places, and meets so many different people, with Pangloss by his side. They go through tragedy and die, and resurrect again throughout the book. They meet Martin, who is a scholar who is the opposite of Pangloss. He’s very pessimistic, unlike Pangloss who is optimistic. Then Candide gets Cacambo to be his valet. Camambo was “a quarter Spaniard, born of a mongrel in Tucuman; he had been singing–boy, sacristan, sailor, monk, pedlar, soldier, and lackey… he loved his master, because his master was a very good man.”1 They meet an old woman who has gone through many tragedies such as rape and slavery, but while she contemplates suicide, she convinces herself to live. They then meet an Anabaptist named Jacques, who shows great kindness towards Candide and Pangloss, he was a bit pessimistic, but he cared for both of them deeply. Some other characters they meet are, Paquette, a prostitute who gives Pangloss syphilis, Brother Giroflee who’s a monk who is discontent with his life, and so many others. The novel Candide has various themes presented within the book. All the themes in the book are represented through the various characters and experiences that the main character Candide goes through. One theme of the book is definitely the idiocy of optomistict philosphy. This is shown through the character Pangloss. Pangloss’ philosphy that he tries to explain to Candide throughout the book,In this quote from the book, Pangloss is explained as a person who is a, “professor of metaphysico- theologico-cosmolo-nigology.”
Just by this quote, you can see that Pangloss is not a serious character, and he is a parody, like explained above. Voltaire was actually making a parody of a real philosopher, named Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. Leibniz and Pangloss have the same pohilosphy, that everything happens for a reason, and it’s all for the best. They beleived that since God is perfect, and God created the world, that the world must be perfect since it was created in God’s hands. Since Voltaire doesn’t believe that there is a perfect god, or a perfect world, he uses his ideas to show how ridicluous the ideas can be. Pangloss and Candide, suffer and witness rapes, robberies, unfair executions, disease, an earthquake, and so much more. All of it is not for the greater good like Pangloss says, but it’s only proving how cruel humainity really is, and all the imperfections of the world. Pangloss’ arguments are preposterous. For example, when he gets sifilis. He says, “it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not in an island of America caught this disease, which contaminates the source of life, frequently even hinders generation, and which is evidently opposed to the great end of nature, we should have neither chocolate nor cochineal.3 To sum it up, Pangloss is stating that if Christopher Columbuis hadn’t gone to America and caught sifilis and brought it back to Europe, Europeans wouldn’t have American goods such as chocolate. This statement is illogical, and that’s what Volatire is trying to prove. Another huge theme in Candide is the hypocrisy of religion.
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