Voltaire's Candide is a philosophical tale of one man's search for true happiness and his ultimate acceptance of life's disappointments. Candide grows up in the Castle of Westfalia and is taught by the learned philosopher Dr. Pangloss. Candide is abruptly exiled from the castle when found kissing the Baron's daughter, Cunegonde. Devastated by the separation from Cunegonde, his true love, Candide sets out to different places in the hope of finding her and achieving total happiness. The message of Candide is that one must strive to overcome adversity and not passively accept problems in the belief that all is for the best.
Candide's misfortune begins when he is kicked out of the castle and experiences a series of horrible events. Candide is unable to see anything positive in his ordeals, contrary to Dr. Pangloss' teachings that there is a cause for all effects and that, though we might not understand it, everything is all for the good. Candide's endless trials begin when he is forced into the army simply because he is the right height, five feet five inches. In the army he is subjected to endless drills and humiliations and is almost beaten to death. Candide escapes and, after being degraded by good Christians for being an anti-Christ, meets a diseased beggar who turns out to be Dr. Pangloss. Dr. Pangloss informs him that Bulgarian soldiers attacked the castle of Westfalia and killed Cunegonde - more misery!
A charitable Anabaptist gives both Candide and Dr. Pangloss money and assistance. Dr. Pangloss is cured of his disease, losing one of his eyes and one of his ears. The Anabaptist takes them with him on a journey to Lisbon. While aboard the ship, the ...
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... that in life there will be many obstacles which can and should be overcome. Life has its difficulties but the world would be a miserable place if people passively accepted that everything that happened to them was for the best - shrugging off responsibility. Voltaire believes that people should not allow themselves to be victims. He sneers at naive, accepting types, informing us that people must work (be active) to make their happiness.
Works Cited and Consulted:
Durant, Will, Ariel Durant. The Story of Civilization: Part IX: The Age of Voltaire. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965.
Frautschi, R.L. Barron's Simplified Approach to Voltaire: Candide. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1998.
Lowers, James K, ed. "Cliff Notes on Voltaire's Candide". Lincoln: Cliff Notes, Inc. 1995.
Voltaire. Candide. New York: Viking Publishers, 1996.
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