Fransois-Marie Arouet better known as Voltaire was born in France, and he was known as an enlightenment author. In 1759 he published the story “Candide”. It is a story of a young man who went through many mishaps but kept his faith and positive attitude. The novel is a criticism of the French culture and state of religions during this era. There were many conflicts among religious groups in France during the time the book was written. Voltaire used the real historic events as the background of the story.
The characters in this book went through unfortunate events but shared common goals in happiness, religion, and human nature. Arouet, was a believer on empiricism and religious tolerance, and it was evident throughout the book with many human experiences. At several places author used the religion as the focus through the main characters to spread light on religions during his time. There are doubts, joyfulness, sorrow, and disbelief in life, and this was the main theme of the book.
To go through life, humans use religion, good nature or positive attitude to deal with mishap events in their lives. All humans look for happiness in life, some try to get it through money, some through religion, and some through power. This review will focus on how religion played a major role in Candide’s life.
In the beginning of the story, Candide was living a good life at his uncle’s estate. He seemed to have enjoyed what life had to offer him. As the story goes on, he has an affection for a young woman named Cunegonde. His tutor Dr. Pangloss taught Candide philosophy, and other aspects of life. However, this all changed when Candide was caught by his uncle kissing a young lady, who he loved dearly. This got him kicked out of the estate. He could no longer go back to the castle. Right after this, a lot of unfortunate events took place his life that tested his faith in God.
Candide believed that all Christians are good people, but soon he experienced events that changed his view of life. He could not believe what happened to him, and lifted his head towards heaven and question why this was happening to him (3). Once Candide is no longer living at his uncle’s estate, he felt lonely and hurt because he could not see Cunegonde. He was arrested by the Bulgarian army; because during this time it was the largest uprising by the Catholic Church and Bulgarian army was supporting the Church. After captured, he was severely beaten and tortured. Finally, he was able to escape to Holland. When he arrived in Holland, he had faith that he will meet nice people as he had in Baron’s castle because these people in Holland were Christians as well. In Holland he met a Protestant speaker who asked Candide “Do you believe the Pope to be antichrist” (6). Candide replied that he does not know, but requested food to eat. The orator and his wife got very angry with him and she threw human-waste on Candide as he was shunned away from them. In these dire times, he ran into an Anabaptist named James. The Anabaptist was an extreme religion group that spun off from Protestants, but believed that baptism should be done when you are an adult. James was a very sympathetic person, and he decided to help Candide and Pangloss. Here Candide saw the good and bad nature of the religious people.
He experienced another test of his faith when during the journey to Lisbon his friend James was drowned. During a storm this Anabaptist helped a drowning sailor but in return this sailor let James drown (10). Only three people survived through the storm and one was this sailor. Candide later grieved for his friend’s death and questioned why bad things were happening to good people.
Candide met another corrupted religious personality. When the jewels of his companion were stolen by a grey friar. Once he found the love of his life they decided to travel to South America with her old servant. They found out that a Grey Friar have stolen from them. A Friar belongs to a religious order who preach. Grey Friars are missionaries who are part of the Christian religious order. This thief tried to sell jewels to a jeweler. Later he admitted that he took the jewels and money, therefore friar was hanged and punished for his crime. The author tried show that religious authorities were corrupt as well and corruption was wide spread.
Religoius discrimination was wide spread not only in Europe but around the world. Candide’s male valet named Cacambo tried to convince him to fight for the Jesuits in Paraguay. Jesuit is a Roman Catholic individual who is devoted to missionary work. They go to the “uncivilized” places and help to educate and civilize the local people or tribes. Usually they will stay at a location until progress is made. Cacambo told Candide that he has served as a servant at the College of Assumption, and he had a good relationship with the government of the good Fathers (32). As they arrived Cacambo told the head guard that the captain wanted to talk to the Commandant. As they wait, a sergeant tells Cacambo and Candide that Commandant do not want to speak or see them. But when it is said that Candide is a German and not a Spaniard, the situation changed once commandant knew about this fact. He replied by saying “God be praised! since he is German, I may speak to him” (33). When Candide talked to the Commandant a Jesuit asks him if he is German. Candide also found out that this Jesuit is none other than Cunegonde’s brother. This incident shows that people discriminated each other not only base of what country one belongs to but also base on religion.
People displaced by wars and mishaps were helped by different groups of religoius associations. Cunegonde’s brother told Candide his story and how he survived the attack. He told them that he watched as his mother and father were killed. He wanted to go and save his sister after he heard that she had been ravished by a solider, but he could not. His dead body was then dumbed on top of other bodies, until a Jesuit came by and splashed some holy water onto him. Some of the water gotten into his eyes as it started to burn, he blinks his eyes as the Jesuit discovers he is alive. The Jesuit then helped and took care of him, until the Father General needed some new German-Jesuits to go to Paraguay (35). As Candide admits to Cunegonde’s brother he wishes to marry her, Cunegonde’s brother refuses for him to marry his sister. The two men argue until he smacks Candide in the face. In doing so Candide gets angry as he took his sword and plunged it into the Jesuit’s belly. “Good God!” he said, “I have killed my old master, my friend, my brother-in law! I am the best natured creature in the world, yet I have already killed three men, and of these three two were persists” (36). Candide thinks now he will be punished more for what he has done, by killing the baron Jesuit. Candide and his valet Cacambo escaped before anyone else finds out. Once he left, he could not even find the strength in eating as he thought back about killing the Jesuit. He thought about how will Cunegonde feel if he told her the truth. Although her brother was a kind man but he still discriminated Candide because of Candide’s status.
After all these mishaps in Candide’s life, he held on to his religoius faith and realized that he has made some sins and some good deeds. At One-point Candide and Cacambo encountered two young girls who were being attacked by monkeys. After hearing their cries Candide went and saved them by firing at the two monkeys, and killing them on the spot. Candide turned to Cacambo and said “God be praised! my dear Cacambo, I have rescued these two poor creatures from a most perilous situation. If I have committed a sin in killing an Inquisitor and a Jesuit, I have made ample amends by saving the lives of these girls” (37). Candide feels good in some way that he saved the two girls from the monkeys, but also felt that he will be challenged and punished for killing the baron Jesuit. People knew the good verses bad either by the good nature or through religion. But war, poverty or circumstances made them do things they were not proud of.
Religion played an important role in this novel, author showed that all religions are good but followers may be good or bad. For example, the Jewish man who used Cunegonde as a sex slave, supposed to be riotous and supposed to strictly obey the laws of religion. Instead the story portrays Jews as sinners and doing wrongful things. The Anabaptist and the Jesuit had helped Candide in his time of hardship and doubtfulness. Candide killed the two men who used Cunegonde as a sex slave, but felt bad for committing the sin of killing someone. He also felt horrible when he killed Cunegonde’s brother. Even though, he was a friend to him, killing him with his bare hands shook him to the core. The circumstances and current situation made him do things he never approved.
During the time novel was written there were many different new religions in Europe. Several of them branched off from the Catholic church. Religions such as Lutheranism, Baptism, Protestants, Easter Orthodox, and more. People were using religion as an excuse to hate each other and creating wars to prove their point. Also, greed of land, money and resources drove them out of their countries to attack others but it was done under the name of religion such as Crusades.
Dreams are a continuous sense of disconnection from reality to let us be what we cannot be and to fulfill our unconscious desires. In Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, the depiction […]
In the real world, there is no Peter Pan or Neverland that can help us escape the reality of adulthood. As we get older, our views of how the world […]
Aphra Bhen was a prolific female playwright and author during the restoration period of English history. Bhen herself stood by the power of the monarchy. Her book ‘_Oroonoko_’ has hints […]
Nature plays a huge role in many pieces of literature, but especially Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North and Voltaire’s Candide. There is a major difference between the two […]
Pangloss’s philosophy of life is that all is for the best in the “best of all possible worlds. ” This optimistic philosophy actually is the key element of Voltaire’s satire. […]
When reading a work of fiction, one has to be aware of different writing styles that will clue you into the information that the author wants one to pick up […]
Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimized), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended, […]
Throughout his novel Candide, Voltaire utilized satire, characterization, and techniques of exaggeration and contrast to attack Candide’s two-dimensional outlook on life and to disprove the overly optimistic philosophy that Candide […]
Not everything is all for the best. The novel Candide by Voltaire delved into the miseries of men, politics and religion where every unfortunate event that happens to the individual […]
Fransois-Marie Arouet better known as Voltaire was born in France, and he was known as an enlightenment author. In 1759 he published the story “Candide”. It is a story of […]