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Analysis

Discuss about the Europe’s Way to the Modern Age.

Eighteenth century was marked by a transition in thought and philosophy that was marked by works of several authors and philosophers of that time. French literature contains various works of authors especially in the time of 1755, when François-Marie Arouet, Voltaire composed Candide (Voltaire 2013). It was an inspiration to several historical events as Leibniz’s “Monadology”, the 1755 Lisbon earthquake and the Seven Years’ War. The composition had been impacted by 1755 Lisbon earthquake, followed by tsunami and fire at All Saints’ Day, as the author himself had theological influence from these incidents. The book had been first published in 1959 by Voltaire and thereafter it had been translated in English. The writing depicts a young man Candide, who has a life in Edenic paradise and had been indoctrinated by Leibnizian optimism. His tutor is Professor Pangloss had taught him lifestyles of optimism, which was later transformed by his practical hardships in the world. The theme has a sarcastic note, but it forms a picaresque novel with similar theme as Bilungsroman. The novel has various adventures and includes several historical events. Candide has been described as having problems with evil which has been depicted rather humorously. Through the novel religion, government, philosophy, armies, philosophers, theologians have been ridiculed. The novel contains intricate portrayal of human conditions with its political sedition and religious blasphemy (N. Cronk 2016). The essay is an explanation of several characters of Candide with respect to their fit with the ethos of eighteenth century society as, ”Throughout his adventures, Candide is sometimes accompanied by his tutor Pangloss, sometimes by his friend Martin, almost always by his servant Cacambo. “The essay explains in favor of the concept that Candide’s character was influenced by his accompanies and philosopher. though primarily Candide’s nature and beliefs were shaped by his professor but later they came to be influenced by certain natural occurrences and his friend as well as servant. The age in which the novel was written saw a transition from the traditional optimism thoughts to a more practical oriented attitude. Faith is God being a benevolent deity was seeing to be gradually transited into a new form altogether.  

Voltaire’s novel Candide was an inspiration and depiction of his own interests as well as beliefs. Though Voltaire had a philosophical bent of mind and his character Candide in his initial stages reflects such though process, later rational changes was incorporated from experiencing ceratin occurrences, which had tremendous impact on the author’s mind. Candide was predominantly inspired by Leibniz’s writings as it a strong contemporary influence on the society. Though Candide underwent a major revision post its publication, some of its major characters involved have immense influence on the central character (Butt 1974). Candide, the title character happens to be the baron Thunder-ten-Tronckh’s sister’s illegitimate son. Candide was depicted in love with Cunégonde, who was the baron’s daughter. Professor Pangloss held a position as the royal educator of the baron’s court. He has been often considered as the greatest philosopher of the Holy Roman Empire.

Conclusion

Candide’s friend Martin happens to be a Dutch amateur philosopher and Manichaean. He and Candide met in Suriname became friends and travelled with him. Candide’s servant Cacambo is descendant from a Spanish father and a Peruvian mother. He had lived mostly in Spain and Latin America. He was Candide’s servant when he was in America. There were various other characters in the novel as well (Regan 2012).    

Candide goes through a number of experiences during the course of the narrative and throughout his journey characters like, Pangloss, Cacambo and Martin accompanies him (Mason 2011). These characters have some special influence on the life and mind of the protagonist, Candide. Professor Pangloss represents the very optimistic ideas and philosophy of the 18th century and reflects the idea of Leibniz, who was one of the Enlightenment thinkers of the 18th century. In the novel, Pangloss promotes the idea that the world is the most beautiful and the best place to live in. Candide who greatly respects his mentor, Pangloss grows up with this idea. Pangloss is highly optimistic which seems quite absurd since he himself towards the end of the novel narrates the fact that he is not quite sure about the ideas or the philosophy that he suggests. Pangloss, in the novel is satirized for his highly optimistic view even in the time of utmost danger and crisis. Candide’s character is a sheer representation and reflection of the eighteenth century ethos, which had belief in chivalry with certain changes adopted in from practical experiences. Most works of the time depicts such a transition period and this work is famous for being one of its kind (O'Neal 2011).    

The theodicy of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz has propagated about optimism and respects God as a benevolent deity. All his prominent works reflect his praises regarding God and various endeavors that he does. Initial part of Candide’s character was deeply influenced by such thoughts as were propagated by his Professor. But the Professor and philosopher could not explain occurrences such as earthquake or a tsunami. Thus, though Candide’s characteristics as well as thought processes was influenced by his professor, post these incidents he started to reject most of these theories. It was during this time that he met his friend and servant and his character took on a varied dimensional outlook and philosophy. But initially he was in delusion as he failed to explain and understand the nature of such terrifying occurrences (N. e. Cronk 2016).   

Martin on the other hand is a very realistic character and is represented as a scholar in the novel (Weller 1993). Martin is shown to be a pessimistic character in the novel and he accepts everything with a logical approach. Martin can very skillfully judge incidents and predict about the future happenings. The character of Martin perfectly parodies the ethos of the 18th century society since he looks straight into the realities and the problems of the contemporary, overlooking the philosophical aspects of life (Summerfield 2010). Thus, Voltaire through his character Candide, rejected Leibnizian optimism post experiencing natural disaster. Pantagloss later got infected and was diseased, which was later cured by Jacques. Martin is a forerunner of eighteenth century which is depicted from beliefs and disbeliefs in act of God. He is also a pessimists by nature which impacts Candide to some extent. Thus, Martin’s characteristics is often felt amongst many in the works of that age. His depiction is often criticized as being Voltaire’s ideal philosophy.   

 Cacambo, who accompanied Candide for most of the time is an honest character and believes both in the optimistic and the pessimistic view of life. He keeps Candide’s trust as he brings back Cunegonde. Though he had no proper tutor or philosopher and his learning comprised mainly his experiences. Thus, he deduced and learned from life through his and his family’s various life events (Royle 1964). He had influenced Candide’s character to a limited extent thus proposing practical approach to problems and solutions. Cacambo is an ideal depiction of a mixed philosophical ethos, as he had firm believe in the optimism theory along with practical exposure that led him to ascertain on conclude on many facets of life.

Conclusion

The novel concludes with Candide’s change of philosophy of life and character that dismisses optimism totally learnt earlier in his life. Hence from theory and philosophy of optimism, he goes on to believing in unresolved theories. The protagonist theory is accepted by Candide towards the ending chapters as he is greatly influenced by certain characters close to him. With a formal and systematic style an enigmatic approach has been adopted for concluding which is invariably easy to adopt. Thus, bending away from philosophy to a more practical approach and outlook has been often been criticized. The ethos of the eighteenth century is reflected in the philosophy rhetoric rather than chivalry. This phase addresses more diverse issues that in effective in the practical times rather than philosophical in nature. Thus, this novel is a precursor of the rhetoric age when optimism is slowly getting transformed with a more diverse and applicable knowledge of practicality. Character of the professor is a mark of the chivalry with philosophical thoughts and beliefs. Whereas those of Cacambo represents previous age with changes due to experience. Martin character is a sheer representation of the age. Candide’s character has been deeply influenced by chivalry first and then gradually converged into the eighteenth century ethos that depicts a mixed tradition and a diverse than philosophical approach. 

Butt, John, ed. Candide: Or, Optimism. Vol. 14. Penguin, 1974.

Cronk, Nicholas. Candide. Norton Critical Editions, 2016.

Cronk, Nicholas, ed. "Candide (Third International Edition). WW Norton & Company." 2016.

Mason, Haydn. ""Candide, Voltaire-Haydn Mason (essay date 1992)."." 2011.

O'Neal, John C. "The progressive poetics of confusion in the French Enlightenment. ." University of Delaware, 2011.

Regan, Shaun, ed. "Reading 1759: Literary Culture in mid-eighteenth-century Britain and France." Bucknell University Press, 2012.

Royle, P. ""Eighteenth-Century French Rationalism And The Ethical Revolution."." Theoria: A Journal of Social and Political Theory, 1964: 51-66.

Summerfield, Giovanna, and Lisa Downward. New perspectives on the European Bildungsroman. Bloomsbury Publishing, 2010.

Voltaire, Francois. Candide, or optimism. Penguin UK, 2013.

Weller, Shane. "Candide: a dual-language book." Courier Corporation, 1993.

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