Literary Analysis on Candide

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Voltaire’s novel Candide is about the adventures of an optimistic young man named Candide, and his journey into manhood. In the beginning Candide, whom at this time is living in his uncle’s castle, was taught by the prominent philosopher, Pangloss. Pangloss teaches the ideals of Optimism. Throughout the novel Pangloss’s teachings becomes coined into one phrase, “all is for the best” (Voltaire, 4). During the start of the tragedies faced by Candide it is apparent that, though, everything may be horrible it is for the best. Voltaire, in his satire, explores many themes throughout Candide. Hypocrisy of religion is clear throughout the novel. Voltaire does not show the religious institutions or the people associated with it in good light, as demonstrated by the many characters in Candide.

Very few religious characters are represented in a positive manor. Does his portrayal on religion, through his characters, align with the Truth? In Chapter 3 Candide escapes from the armies attacking to a nearby village where he knew rich Christians live and he meets an orator. The orator had just finished addressing a large crowd on charity and addresses Candide as “My friend.” However, after realizing that Candide does not share his believe that the Pope is the Antichrist, his attitude towards Candide changes. Consequently, he strays from his teachings and insults Candide by calling him a “wretch” and “rogue.”

The orator also says that Candide “does not deserve to eat” (Voltaire). The orator’s wife also empties her Chamber-pot onto Candide. When Candide entered the village he was hoping to find compassion and generosity from the believers. However, he was turned away by this orator who was, only a few minutes before, preaching about charity just because of his differing religious beliefs. This goes on to show the intolerance and hypocrisy of religion Voltaire is trying to showcase in his novel. However, what happens to Candide showcases the real alignment with the Truth and is one the few positive religious interactions. Jacques, the Anabaptist, witnessed this horrible action towards Candide “one of his brothers, a living being with two feet, no feathers, and possessed of a soul”and invited him into his own home. He served him bread and beer and even presented him with two florins.

Jacques is a good man and a good example for all. He even offers to teach Candide how to work in his factory so Candide can have a job. The Anabaptists were looked down on, but Jacques the Anabaptist, takes care of people who need help. There are many stories in the Bible that share the same elements of this story, such as the good Samaritan. The parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10:25-37 (King James Version) talks about a man who is stripped of clothing, beaten, and left half dead alongside the road. First, a priest comes by but avoid the man. Then a Levite passes by, but he also avoids the man. Finally, a Samaritan happens upon the traveler. Samaritans and Jews generally despised each other, but the Samaritan helps the injured man.

The Samaritans were looked down on, but the Good Samaritan took care of a man who needed help, just as Jacques the Anabaptist took care of Candide, and later on Pangloss. Jacques’ love and compassion for his fellow man is how God has called us to be, and when you read the Truth Jesus said’ “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”(King James Version) Another character that aligns with the Truth, not in his beliefs but in his steadfast faith is Pangloss. “Everything happens for the best, in this the best of all possible worlds.”(Voltaire) This is a statement that can be found many times within Voltaire’s Candide, particularly by a character named Pangloss. He is a very hopeful character in the story because he refuses to accept bad. When Candide encounters Pangloss after a long period of time, Pangloss explains how he was almost hanged, then dissected, then beaten.

Candide asks the philosopher if he still believes that everything is for the best, and Pangloss replies that he still held his original views. Pangloss stood firm in his beliefs even though he suffered. Abraham is mentioned several times in the Bible for some of the great things he accomplished, but Romans 4 says that he was saved because of his faith and not because of this works. Hebrews 11 says that he followed God even though he was not sure where he was going. Abraham is known as a man of faith who faithfully followed the Lord’s leading. Job is another person from the bible that went through struggle, tested, and came out steadfast in his faith, “In spite of everything that had happened, Job did not sin by blaming God.”(King James Version)

Even though, throughout the story Candide does slip into a pessimistic view, there are characters in every part of the story that display what the Truth really means. We cannot find meaning unless we know our ultimate meaning. We cannot live fulfilling lives unless we know how our lives were meant to be lived. In order to know true understanding, we need to know what is true. Voltaire’s intention on writing Candide might have been to point out the hypocrisy of the church at the time, but you can still find the hidden truths within the story. Light will always pierce through the dark, which shows you the true beauty in the Truth.

Cite this paper

Literary Analysis on Candide. (2021, Oct 07). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/literary-analysis-on-candide/

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