Candide Analysis

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Status: In Progress  |  Genre: Non-Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Submitted: April 12, 2018

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Submitted: April 12, 2018

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Charlie Engle

Mr. Bursiek

Period 3

3/20/18

1st Prompt

Voltaire was clearly a very opinionated man, which showed in his book Candide. He made so many different claims and jabs at society in the 1700s that it’s hard to keep track of all of his ideas. Although agreeable his main argument in Candide was to disprove the belief of optimism. He believed the exact opposite, that this isn’t the best of all possible worlds and that not everything is for the best. There were multiple scenes that showed this, when Candide gets kicked out of the castle and forced to join the army where he is beaten within an inch of his life. Or when Candide visits Lisbon and sees the earthquake that destroyed the city and killed thousands of people.

One example was when Candide was actually allowed to fight in the war. Candide only fought one battle against the Abares. He there witnessed the atrocities of war firsthand. Candide, trying to escape from the “heroic butchery” traveled to a neighboring town in Abares territory. There he saw that the Bulgarians had burned it to the ground and left the people to die in horrific ways. He traveled further and came upon a Bulgarian town that had fallen to the same fate. It showed how horrible war is and how there isn’t really a good outcome from it.

Another time Voltaire demonstrated his ideas against optimism was when Candide visited Lisbon right after it had been hit by an earthquake. There he and pangloss saw thousands buried beneath the rubble of the buildings. Pangloss then decided to explain to Candide that there is a “train of sulfur from Lima to Lisbon” which is why the earthquakes hit. After hearing this the locals hung Pangloss because they think he caused the earthquake. This was the first time Candide started to doubt that everything is for the best, considering that thousands of people including Pangloss, the man preaching this being the best of all worlds, have died.

The final example that I think was the most persuading was when Candide and everyone decided that settling down and doing nothing is better than living life and being tortured for it. Candide even goes to ask the question “which is worse: to be ravished a hundred times by pirates, and have a buttock cut off, and run the gauntlet, and be flogged and hanged in an auto-da-fe, and be dissected, and have to row in a galley or to simply do nothing?” I think this completely sums up the point that Voltaire was trying to make, that it is better to do nothing than to endure the miseries of life and that this can’t be the best of all worlds if that is one’s best option.

 


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