Innocence and Experience
In the Neo-classical novel Candide the theme of innocence and experience is prevalent through the protagonist, Candide, journey of finding the prescription of how to live a useful life in the face of a harsh reality. In addition William Blake’s collection of Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience the two characters, tyger and lamb, show how we lose our innocence to gain experience. Although the innocence and experience are paradoxical terms, we can solve the paradox by analyzing these two works.
First in the novel Candide the neoclassical age defined innocence as ignorance and experience as knowledge. Meaning that when you are born you are a blank slate (innocent) but life will write on you (experience). If we examine the etymology of the character’s name “Candide” we learn that his name came from the Latin word “Canidum” meaning “white, pure, and honest” which implies innocence. From the beginning of Candide, we see how naïve and innocent the character is .He lives in the Barons castle with the nicest things, unaware of the outside world. Most of Candide’s ideas of what the outside world was like was from his mentor, pangloss, philosophy is the best of all possible worlds. However once Candid is faced with real world problems such as hunger and human cruelty after he is kicked out of the castle. Candies first example of innocence is when he leaves the Barons Castle “Candide, ejected from the earthly paradise wandered for a long time without knowing where he was going” If we examine the word paradise we learn that is it defined as a “peaceful place that seems perfect” We know that the paradise he is referring to is Westphalia which brings up the question is Westphalia the perfect place? Westphalia ...
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...the Underground Man where he is taken out of his comfort zone, and struggles with understanding his relationship with Liza. “In the first place, I could no longer love because, I repeat, for me love meant tyrannizing and demonstrating my moral superiority. All of my life I could never conceive of any other kind of love” (1211). In this passage, the Underground man views love as something painful, even-though he has never in his lifetime truly experienced it. If we define the word tyranny, in this sense, it means to treat someone despotically or cruelly. Through this passage the Underground Man fails to understand unselfish love, and he has failed to recognize that Liza has come to see him because of love. Ultimately, the Underground Mans self absorption prevents him from coming to reality causing him to be shut underground for good, with no opportunities to escape.
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