Essay on Voltaire's Candide and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther

Essay on Voltaire's Candide and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther

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Voltaire's Candide and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther

In the literary `movements' of neo-classicism and romanticism, Voltaire's Candide and Goethe's The Sorrows of Young Werther represent the literary age in which they were written. In the following composition, textual evidence will be provided to demonstrate how each book accurately represents either the neo-classicism age or the romanticism age. Candide and The Sorrows of Young Werther will be examined separately, and then examined together. After, a discussion about how each age seems to view the nature of man and the significance of moral and spiritual values will be presented. Also, a personal interpretation of the conclusion of each book will be given. Lastly, quotes and examples will be given to show which of the two literary ages offers more to the reader.

First, we must discuss the three of the characteristics of the neo-classicism age that is represented in Voltaire's Candide. The first characteristic that is represented in the book is `rationalism- ability to reason'. The whole book was satirically based on this neo-classicism idea. As early as the first page in the book, it is clear to the reader the attitude Voltaire wrote about toward learning (which would include the ability to reason), "His tutor, Pangloss, was the recognized authority in the household on all matters of learning, and young Candide listened to his teaching with that unhesitated faith which marked his age and character" (Candide, 19). Even through hardships, Candide's tutor was excessively rational upon telling Candide about the disease he contracted, " It is indispensable in the best of worlds. It is a necessary ingredient" (Candide, 30). Pangloss also follows the conversation...


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... a piece of literature written in the romanticism age than the neo-classicism age. The books are very different from each other, and both use their respective literary definitions to show the reader the relevance to the time frame in which it was written. All in all, both of the conclusions were appropriate and expected, each finding an answer to the long struggle with their problems. Romanticism literature offers more to the reader: more detail, more emotion, and a more clear, concise dilemma that could relate to readers more than neo-classicism.

Work Cited

Goethe, Johnann Wolfgang von. The Sorrows of Young Werther. Trans. Elizabeth Meyer and Louise Bogan. Forward by W.H. Auden. New York: Vintage, 1990.

Voltaire, Francois-Marie Arouet De. “Candide”. The Norton Anthology of World
Literature. Vol. D. New York/London: W W Norton&Company, 2002. 517-580.

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