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Essay on Voltaire’s Candide: A Freudian Interpretation

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A Freudian Interpretation of Candide  

Voltaire’s Candide is a humorous work depicting the misadventures of a German man who has fallen from pseudo-nobility and is forced to roam the world in search for his love and his identity. In his adventures, he encounters massive fits of violence, both inflicted by himself onto others, and by those around him. This huge amount of violent behavior brings about startling questions about morality and justice in Voltaire’s time. It becomes apparent that Candide, among other things, is a satire which focuses on justice. Sigmund Freud, the noted psychologist, came up with the idea three states of consciousness: the id, which is the instinctive quality of humans; the ego, which is human rationale; and the superego, which is a person’s morality, or conscience. The characters and actions of Candide can easily be classified into these three states of consciousness to determine much of what Voltaire satirized in his work.

    The middle group of the conscious states, the ego, is the medium of the brain. It is the bridge from the outside world to the inner workings of the mind. It is also the rational portion of the psyche, relying on reason. From the narrative, which is notably biased toward Candide’s point of view, the obvious symbol of the ego is Pangloss, the philosopher. He is Candide’s idol, and the model of right-thinking among the main characters, despite appearing as an utter buffoon to both the audience and the other characters with his hypotheses that all things are “for the best.” Also distorted views of the ego are apparent in most of the major characters, including Candide and Cunegonde, most notably. Although they are hardly the pictures of rationale, the...


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...p in their own personal El Dorado, the microcosmic garden. An Edenic farm becomes their new home. On the other hand, the rest of society is forced to live with the monstrosity that it has created of itself. Candide and his friends can live in peace for the rest of their existence while the rest of humanity, including perhaps even the real El Dorado, must suffer its own set of consequences.

   Voltaire is obviously satirizing the period’s view of justice. He makes his points through biting sarcasm using the reversed roles of what he feels should be. These points are unstated, but painstakingly simple and clear. He was obviously hoping to reform the systems of the time. These ideas of reform are made even clearer by Freud’s ideas. Voltaire tries to refocus society’s efforts on morality and thinking, rather than tradition and blind submissions.

 


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