Religion and Candide

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"The Enlightenment era" was the name of a movement which embodied the power of reason and rational thought. Most enlightened thinkers attacked the nobility, the church, and the belief in petty fallacies and fears. Candide reflects the thoughts and sentiments of Voltaire who is considered to be a truly enlightened thinker. This paper will further analyze the character Candide, and Voltaire's usage of the novel to present his views on blind optimism and the double standards of religion. At the beginning of the novel Candide is introduced as "honest mind with great simplicity of heart" (520). He is told from is mentor Pangloss, that everything is always of the best in their best of all possible worlds. This attitude of "everything-happens-for-reason" is exactly what Voltaire is trying to mock. Showing Candide endure all sorts of hardships and troubles, yet keeping a positive outlook on life, illustrate how "unreasonable" it is to have the same position as Candide. Voltaire was attacking those who believed that everything was a part of god's plan. This belief is similar to that of John Calvin's predestination. The suffering of the two characters, Pangloss and Candide, serve no purpose in the greater scheme of things. For example, Pangloss' illogical reasoning for the syphilis outbreak was simply "if Columbus had not caught, on an American island, this sickness which attacks the source of generation [...] we should have neither chocolate or cochineal"(526) .Voltaire utilizes statements like this prove how ridiculously illogical it seems to carry this doctrine. Throughout the story, Candide struggles with his faith in optimism and times it is reinforced with things such as the aide of Jacques. At the end of the novel, Candide is finally fed up with Pangloss' philosophy of optimism that he's been blindly following. "Oh Pangloss, cried Candide, you have no notion of these abominations! I'm through, I must give up your optimism after all. What's optimism? said Cacambo....
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