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A Freudian Analysis of Voltaire's Candide Essay

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A Freudian Analysis of Voltaire's Candide

 
    In Civilization and its Discontents, Sigmund Freud refers to the important role that love plays in the world of Man. Love certainly plays an important role in Voltaire's Candide; throughout Candide's journeys, a constant factor is his love for Lady Cunegonde and his desire to be with her.

Freud writes "the way of life which makes love the centre of everything [...] comes naturally to all of us," (Freud, p. 29). Candide's love for Cunegonde is the driving force of his life from the moment they are parted at the beginning of the novel until they are bonded in marriage at the end. Throughout his experiences, Candide continues to think about Cunegonde. Even after narrowly surviving the Bulgar-Abar war, Candide's thoughts are still about Cunegonde (Voltaire, p. 26).

"We are never so helplessly unhappy as when we have lost our love object," (Freud, p. 29). Man is never more vulnerable as when the person he has chosen as the object of his love is taken from him. When Candide is at Eldorado, where no-one goes hungry or has any needs which go unfulfilled, he tells his companion Cacambo, "'I shall never be happy without Lady Cunegonde,'" (Voltaire, p. 82). Candide found, it would seem, the one place on Earth where there is no suffering from poverty, war, or injustice. He and Cacambo could have lived long and fulfilling lives in Eldorado, but Candide insists on returning to his beloved Cunegonde.

When Candide and Cunegonde are at last reunited, Cunegonde asks Candide "[what] has happened to you since that innocent kiss you gave me?" (Voltaire, p. 40). The kiss, which Cunegonde describes as innocent, cost Candide dearly; her brother the Baron "drove Candide from the house w...


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...is largely responsible for our misery and we should be much happier if we gave it up and returned to primitive conditions," (Freud, p. 33). Candide realizes at the end of the novel that the formula for being content is simple: "We must go and work in the garden," (Voltaire, p. 144). When Man does not have to fight the rules of civilization, his life is a much simpler lot.

Many of the points which Sigmund Freud makes in Civilization and its Discontents can be paralleled to the experiences of Candide in Voltaire's Candide. These points can also be linked with the society Man lives in today. Candide is clearly a member of Man's society and is subject to all the needs and desires described by Freud.


Works Cited

Sigmund Freud. Civilization_and_its_Discontents. New York: W. W. Norton and Company; 1961.

Voltaire. Candide. London: Penguin Books; 1947.


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