Candide and Enlightenment

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Voltaire’s Candide both supported and challenged traditional enlightenment viewpoints through the use of fictional ‘non-western’ perspectives. Candide mockingly contradicts the typical Enlightenment belief that man is naturally good and can be master over his own destiny (optimism). Candide faces many hardships that are caused by the cruelty of man (such as the war between the Bulgars and Abares, Cunegonde being raped, etc) and events that are beyond his control (the earthquake in Lisbon). Voltaire did not believe that a perfect God (or any God) has to exist; he mocked the idea that the world must be completely good, and he makes fun of this idea throughout Candide. He also makes fun of the philosophers of the time, because the philosophers in the novel talk a lot, do nothing, and solve no problems at all. Candide also makes a mockery of the aristocracy’s notion of superiority by birth. Voltaire also addresses the corruption of the religious figures and the church thus “destroying and challenging the “Sacred Circle”. Voltaire’s Candide is the story of one man’s trials and sufferings through life. The main character is Candide. Candide is portrayed as a wanderer. He grew up in the Castle of the Baron of Westphalia, who was his mother’s brother and was taught by, Dr. Pangloss, the greatest philosopher of the whole world. Pangloss taught Candide that everything that happens is for the best. Candide is exiled from the castle because of his love for the Baron’s daughter, Cunegonde. He then sets out to different places in the hope of finding her and achieving total happiness. Candide thought that everything happened for the best because the greatest philosopher taught him that, but everyone around him did not accept that theory. The optimistic Pangloss and Candide, suffer and witness a wide variety of horrors: beating, rapes, robberies, unjust executions, disease,and an earthquake, These things do not serve any apparent greater good, but be a sign of the cruelty and...
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