Candide by Voltaire

November 15, 2017
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French writer Voltaire described a story for both dark and light side of this world. Candide, as the protagonist, presents his way of traveling through the world. The journey begins with the end of a short love story, that Candide was expelled from a castle because he kissed Cunegonde, the daughter of the owner.


Candide inherited knowledge from Pangloss, a philosopher who holds a perpetually optimistic attitude. Pangloss believes that “all is for the best” (2). Candide is also impacted by this attitude later in his life. However, there are problems with this idea. Pangloss believes in being optimistic; he believes everything should stay in its original shape, because it was God who made everything, and that everything in the world has its own purpose. For example, legs are made to wear stockings and pigs are made to be eaten. Pangloss’ philosophies still continue even though Jacques, a man who saved them, but drowns in the ocean. He still thinks that there is no need to change. It is interesting that Pangloss himself starts to doubt this philosophy at the end of the novel, but still retains his beliefs.


Candide, as the protagonist of this novel, shows bravery and many other praiseworthy characteristics. He experiences a life that a normal people might not be able to tolerate. First, he is expelled from the castle and forced to keep away from his love, Cunegonde. A man called Jacques saved Candide and Pangloss after they acknowledged the death of Cunegonde’s family. Jacques then drowned into the ocean, and Candide and Pangloss again saw Cunegonde after they reached their destination. Tragically, although Cunegonde does not die, she does become a sex slave. It is difficult for Candide to accept this truth. However, after he proposes to Cunegonde, she instead decides to accept the governor’s proposal for her own good. Candide leaves the area in sadness.

 

However, after he returns, Cunegonde is a slave again, even though she does have the same beauty she had when she first kissed Candide. Candide buys her freedom anyway. As a man with honesty and royalty, he could not otherwise be perfect.


At the end of the novel, Candide and Cunegonde live together happily and without sadness. It is more like fairy tale or adult story that ignores all the trouble and the unnatural things in the world. Even though Candide did not break his promise to marry Cunegonde, it is hard to believe that he still loves her after she betrayed him many times for power and money. Candide might have been impacted by Pangloss’s ideas, who thought the world was already perfect and there was nothing that need to change. Pangloss was always optimistic that Cunegonde was made for Candide to marry. It is somewhat ironic that Candide and Cunegone live together happily on a farm, because Cunegonde is a woman who values money and status, and a woman who might not be as innocent as she seems. A woman like Cunegonde could not be satisfied with a rural environment and a man whom she rejected. How could Candide and Cundegonde forget the things done in the first halves of their lives? Is it rather not more possible that Pangloss put a spell on them so they would follow his ideas of optimism?


It is hard to say, and Candide is famous in his sarcastic tone toward to world. This is a fabulous book not only because the characters but because of the book as a whole. It would not be perfect without any of its characters. They impact the story from their own experiences and from other people’s thoughts. It is hard to say whether that the characters shaped the environment or the environment shaped the characters.






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