Voltaire's Candide Relevant to Modern Society

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Dimattia, Devin
English 12 AP
Period 2
Gonzalez
10-5-11
Does Voltaire’s Candide connect to Modern Society?
The tone and theme of Candide, a classic work of literature, make the novel relevant to today's modern world. These two elements of the story bring the classic to life for new generations to relate to as they read it. The satiric story unites a new generation of modern readers to a historical past as they identify with both the theme and tone of the novel as a whole. The tone of Voltaire's highly satirical work is humorously hopeless, and the tone is humorous because Candide and his fellow characters grasp the idea, set forth by the philosopher Pangloss, that “everything is for the best” and there is “the best of both possible worlds.” This blind optimism is negated time after time through the misfortunes that Candide and the rest of the story's characters experience, yet the characters press on with their hopelessly positive attitudes throughout their lives. When confronted with the bleak realities of the horrors of life by a scholar, Candide only replies, "I've seen worse, but a wise man, who later had the misfortune to be hanged, taught me that such things are exactly as they should be: they're the shadows in a beautiful picture." This tone is achieved by the horrific events that the characters of Candide endure and their disinclination to accept the idea that, maybe, they really are doomed, and not all is actually for the best. The reader is inclined to give up on hope long before any of the characters do. For example, Candide loses his beloved Pangloss and the kind Anabaptist on his journey to the utopian Eldorado, gets beaten and whipped, kills more than one person, and suffers numerous other misfortunes while still concluding that all is still for the best because he can still find Cunegonde. After Pangloss is hanged, dissected, beaten, and made to row in a galley, he still believes that everything is for the best. Candide asks him, "Tell me,...
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