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Candide, A Gelastic Story

Candide on the surface is a witty, gelastic story. However when inspected deeper it is a philippic writing against people of an uneducated status. Candid is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truely irking, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds. Thus Voltaire uses a witty, bantering tale on the surface, but in depth a cruel bombast against the ignoramuses of his times.

Candide has reason only in the form of a companion upon which he relies for advice. His companion is of course Dr. Pangloss. He consistently dribbles to Dr. Pangloss about what should be done. At last to the happiness of readers Pangloss is killed by being hanged. But this means that Candide’s reason is also dead! No problem he just goes finds a new companion, ?Lacking him [Pangloss], let’s consult the old woman? (37). He soon loses her, gains another, looses him, and then gains another. Thus we see that Candide can only think if he has a companion. Voltaire is thus saying that all the nobles are really idiots and says they are only smart because they have philosophers. This is typically Enlightenment, because nobles, are stupid and must have philosophers to make them Enlightened. For example L’Hospital’s a French Noble had in his ?possession? mathematicians that developed new ways of taking limits (a Calculus idea). Yet in today’s society we call this way ?L’Hospital’s Rule,? not Bernoulli’s rule who is the one who ?invented? it (Stewart 310).

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Candide is consistently being brainwashed by reason (Pangloss) saying that we live in ?the best of Yet it quite obviously that he does not. For how can there be, in the best of all worlds, war, slavery and many more abominations. Half-way through the book it would appear that Candide has given up his optimism when he looked at the Negro slave. ?Oh Pangloss… I’ll have to give up your optimism at last? (73). But to the distress of the readers he has not given up his chafing optimism. ?Since I found you [an Eldoradian sheep laden with stones], I’m sure I can find Cunegnde again? (79). Thus we see that he has quickly recovered his optimism. Voltaire is using Candide’s blatant optimism to relate to the people of his time that also have the same type of optimism.
He also bombasts the philosophy that states all actions are a part of an illustrious, benevolent cosmic plan. It is Pangloss who says ?it is impossible to for things to be where they are. For all is well? (30). What Pangloss is saying that a thing greater then man (God) has everything laid out, and everything ?is for the best? (30). It is here that Voltaire’s attack on Christianity begins. He bombasts them for believing that all the world is a stage, and that God has written the script. This idea of predestination is the antithesis of the Enlightenment period, and thus it is only natural that Voltaire, a typical Enlightenment writer, harangue these notions by means of a person who believes in this until his death- Candide.

Finally we can see that Voltaire is writing a typical Enlightenment work because Candide is a jeremiad against those people that are lacking Enlightenment knowledge, by this of course, lacking the epitomes of the period: reason, senses and self-interest. Thus Voltaire is using a charming story to attack the people of his time who are against or are not Enlightened. Many other writers also attacked the ignoramuses of their time. For example Montesquie, a French philosopher use The Persian Letters to bombast French culture. Hence one reason that Candide is typically Enlightenment is because it makes fun of the reader who thinks that it is merely a comical story of a man and a quest for his lover.

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