Essay On Voltaire’s Candide: A Typical Enlightenment Work

688 words - 3 pages

Candide as a Typical Enlightenment Work

    Candide on the surface is a witty story. However when inspected deeper it is a philippic writing against people of an uneducated status. Candide is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truly irking, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds. Thus Voltaire uses a witty, bantering tale on the surface, but in depth a cruel bombast against the ignoramuses of his times.


            Candide has reason only in the form of a companion upon which he relies for advice. His companion is Dr. Pangloss. He consistently dribbles to Dr. Pangloss about what should be done. Eventually Pangloss is killed by being hanged. But this means that Candide's reason is also dead! Candide goes and finds a new companion, "Lacking him [Pangloss], let's consult the old woman" (37). He soon loses her, gains another, looses him, and then gains another. Thus we see that Candide can only think if he has a companion. Voltaire is thus saying that all the nobles are really idiots and says they are only smart because they have philosophers. This is typically Enlightenment, because nobles,  are stupid and must have philosophers to make them Enlightened. For example L'Hospital's a French Noble had in his "possession" mathematicians that developed new ways of taking limits (a Calculus idea). Yet in today's society we call this  way "L'Hospital's Rule," not Bernoulli's rule who is the one who "invented" it (Bottiglia 310).


            Candide is consistently being brainwashed by reason (Pangloss) saying that we live in "the best of all possible worlds", while it is quite obviously that he does not. For how can there be, in the best of all worlds, war, slavery and many more abominations. Half-way through the book it would appear that Candide has given up his optimism when he looked at the Negro slave. "Oh Pangloss... I'll have to give up your optimism at last" (73). But to the distress of the readers he has not given up his chafing optimism. "Since I found you [an...

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