Candide and Free Will

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Voltaire's Candide is a novel that is interspersed with superficial characters and conceptual ideas that are critically exaggerated and satirized. The parody offers cynical themes disguised by mockeries and witticism, and the story itself presents a distinctive outlook on life narrowed to the concept of free will as opposed to blind faith driven by desire for an optimistic outcome. The crucial contrast in the story deals with irrational ideas as taught to Candide about being optimistic by Pangloss, his cheerful mentor, versus reality as viewed by the rest of the world through the eyes of the troubled character, Martin. This raises the question of whether or not the notion of free will is valid due to Candide’s peculiar timing of his expression for it. Some readers might think that Voltaire's novel Candide suggests that belief in free will is absurd. However, a close reading of the text suggests that Voltaire does not deny free will altogether. Candide is in complete control of his actions and ideas during times when an agreeable reality poses not to be enough, which explores Voltaire’s message that true reality is the ability to identify the deficiency of human conventions. Candide’s journey to attain the balance between submitting his will completely to the opinions and actions of others and taking control of his own life through blind faith highlights the notion of free will throughout Voltaire’s novel. Throughout the novel, Voltaire represents mankind as being consumed by immediate personal problems. When the characters of Candide virtually have no troubles or dilemmas, Voltaire illustrates how they do not express their happiness and contentment for it, but rather portray their feelings of boredom and a desire to involve themselves within the complex social constructs of the world. In chapter eighteen when Candide and his valet Cacambo enter the glorious city of El Dorado, Candide expresses the city’s extravagance and how it is incomparable to any other, even...
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