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Candide: A Critique Essay

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Let me start off by saying that I thoroughly enjoy satires; it is the genre I appreciate most for its employment of wit and militant irony. Upon delving into Candide by Voltaire I was lured in by its display of ridiculously brutal situations that dramatized the many evils of human experience. I think Voltaire wonderfully crafted this particular satire through his conglomeration of themes and symbolisms. Seemingly swiftly Voltaire takes the reader through a manifold of episodes of extreme cruelty that prove both horrible and vividly comic. Like other satires, this novella has many themes linked by one central philosophical theme traversing the entire work. This theme is a direct assault on the philosophy of Gottfried Leibniz, Alexander Pope and others. Leibniz held the view that the world created by God was the best possible world with perfect order and reason. Similarly, Alexander Pope, in his Essay on Man, argues that every human being is a part of a greater, rational, grand design of God.
Voltaire points out the absurdity of optimism through the use of irony, hyperbole, understatement, and especially flawed logic. Doctor Pangloss, a follower of Leibniz, attempts to use logic to explain the existence of evil, upholding such beliefs to the point of absurdity, justifying all events through cause-and-effect relationships. One example of this is when he contends that "things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end. Observe: our noses were made to support spectacles, hence we have spectacles." All of his philosophies are rife with flawed logic, portraying him as a learned fool. Voltaire follows up by throwing dirt on Pangloss’s ideals with co...


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...of optimism.
Another interesting point to note is the extraordinary set of plot coincidences where the characters’ fates interact with each other. These worthy plots maneuver ties back to the philosophy of “everything happens for a reason”. The spontaneity that Voltaire keeps flowing induces hilarity and a disregard for realism. William F. Bottiglia writes that the diction in the work is a “vehicle of sustained symbolism.” The critic notes that it is impossible to summarize clearly the stylistic and narrative technique of the novella because the entire work operates as an extended metaphor accompanied and supported by its verbal text. Bottiglia also lauds the depth and scope of the subject matter handled by Voltaire in a text the size of Candide. I most profusely agree with Bottiglia in his critical acclaim. Candide is truly a worthwhile read for the learned mind.


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