Candide Essay Research Paper Benjamin J KoernerEnglish

Candide Essay, Research Paper

Benjamin J. Koerner

English 2100

Prof. Kantor

Final Essay

essay #4

Voltaire?s Social Commentary

In Voltaire?s Candide, Voltaire presents a story with a distinctive outlook on life.

He tells of a world that has gone mad and is laced with evil. Voltaire questions optimism,

philosophy, and absolutes. Through his story he exploits absolutes such as: justice,

happiness, true love, humanity, brotherhood, and many others. He leaves the reader

feeling that the world really is a cruel place and that happiness is hard to come by.

By using the main character Candide, a naive and innocent optimist, Voltaire

ridicules concepts such as: belief, philosophy, religion, and absolutes in society. Candide

and Pangloss are infact used to show the ludicracy in complete optimism. Most of the

remaining characters, especially Martin are rational and pessimistic. But, Pangloss shows

how ridiculous optimism is through his irrational and inane feeling that everything is for

the better even after being hanged, dissected, and beaten.

Voltaire also makes commentary upon true love and happiness when Candide and

Martin discuss the joyful couple they see. Martin assures Candide that the couple are

hiding their pain and Candide argues that they are content, yet upon further review we

find out how really depressed the couple is. In addition to the topic of happiness and true

love Candide marries Cunegonde even though he is no longer is in love with her and she

cannot make him happy. This may prove Martin?s theory that ?man was born to suffer.?

In conclusion, what looks or sounds like true love and happiness, is only a front for

depression and anguish.

Voltaire also debunks the absolutes of brotherhood and humanity in many

episodes of the story. For example the Portuguese Jews hanged simply because they

chose not to eat the bacon with their meal and when the good hearted Anabaptist Jacque

is killed upon the sinking vessel. These examples Voltaire has chose to create convey the

feeling that the world is cold and lacks a recognizable purpose.

At the end Cadide returns from the cold world and removes himself from the

corruption of society only to isolate himself in his work. Only here can he safeguard

himself from the evils abroad. This is the only place he could find happiness even though

he searched for it through out the world and was rudely awakened finding himself

discontent and craving something else.


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