The book explores the adventure of Candide. Voltaire traverses the juxtaposition of human life and juxtaposed two distinct worlds, represented by the cruel real world and the imaginative world. He examines the philosophies that inform the destiny of humanity and eventually succeeds in labeling the inhabitants of the common world as victims of fate with little or no control over their destiny. Through metaphysics, which Candide was an avid follower, he examines the domain of religion and the faith in the control of supernatural beings. Integrated into the work is also the subject of love, explored through the tribulations of Candide after expulsion from the house of the Baron due to his advances towards the beautiful baroness, Cunegand.
The chapters centre on the life of Candide. On expulsion from the beautiful castle he adored so much, he has no where to run to. He is reduced into a beggar and thus has no option when the Bulgarian soldiers come to his rescue. His ignorance of the main aim of their welcoming gesture is never manifested in him till he is harshly trained as a soldier and taken to a court for attempted escape. His remonstrations on the free will of humanity inform his choice to run the gauntlet six and thirty times. This is despite his insistence that divinity gives free-will therefore humanity has the liberty to choice. The rejections of his pleas for help in Holland and coincidental meeting of Pangloss present another twist. Their philosophical stands and religious orientation prove the turning point of the story as they are taken in by Joseph who sets out on an uneventful and tragic journey which ends his life. It is then that the story switches to El Dorado, an ideal country vested with harmony in the citizenship and vastly blessed with riches.
Alongside the freewill of humanity, Voltaire explores other principles. Destiny and humanity present just another insight. The continuous war among the Bulgarians and the essence of courts is juxtaposed with the harmonious co-existence of the residents of El Dorado. Whilst the Bulgarians are guided by the insatiable appetite to fulfill their humane desires, residents of El Dorado seem less intent though they are blessed with wealth beyond the imagination of Pangloss and Candide. Indeed, they refer to gold and silver as pebbles and dust. The essence of rulers and courts as systems of administration is juxtaposed in both. El Dorado provides a stark contrast to the life in Bulgaria and Holland. The rulers are untouchable deities who cannot afford to mingle with the ordinary man. Courts are totally unnecessary in El Dorado whilst in Bulgaria they are very active, in fact biased on their ruling.
The common point among the two juxtaposed societies is probably religion, but not without equal differences amongst all characters. Belief in one God seems to fall through all but the religious orientation and climate implores the circumstances on earth. Whilst in Holland, Candide was subjected to anarchic questions on whether the pope is an antichrist. His advances for help were rejected by the orator on the grounds that he had no firm and full pledging answer but his plight befell an Anabaptist, James, who takes him and Pangloss (later) in. The good natured king of El Dorado offered a dissection on the essence of priest and monks and their necessity (which according to Candide is to rule, govern, intrigue and burn those of opposing opinions). It is this passage bellow that offers the candid examination of the clergy and can be objectively termed as a comparison of the judgmental nature of the Westphalia clergy versus the societal orientation of El Dorado residents. It perhaps offers a comparison of the flawed leadership (read ruler ship) of the fore as opposed to the exercise of freewill in the latter.
To conclude, it is imperative to point out the leadership in the text informs the subsequent religious orientation. The Westphalia’s rule brutality means there is no free-will as argued by Candide and thus they will need courts and priests and monks so as to offer guidance. The brutal nature in which they handle the war issue all the more deepens the conviction of religion and begs inquisition of the validity of their religious endowment. The El Dorado experiences show how much there is to reap in harmonious societal co-existence.
This extract offers the strongest base for religious insight in chapter 18. I just lifted it for you to study it and probably expect the don to base the question from here.
The conversation lasted some time and turned chiefly on the form of government, their manners, their women, their public diversions, and the arts. At length, Candide, who had always had a taste for metaphysics, asked whether the people of that country had any religion.
The old man reddened a little at this question.
"Can you doubt it?" said he; "do you take us for wretches lost to all sense of gratitude?"
Cacambo asked in a respectful manner what was the established religion of El Dorado. The old man blushed again and said, "Can there be two religions, then? Ours, I apprehend, is the religion of the whole world; we worship God from morning till night."
"Do you worship but one God?" said Cacambo, who still acted as the interpreter of Candide's doubts.
"Certainly," said the old man; "there are not two, nor three, nor four Gods. I must confess the people of your world ask very extraordinary questions."
However, Candide could not refrain from making many more inquiries of the old man; he wanted to know in what manner they prayed to God in El Dorado.
"We do not pray to Him at all," said the reverend sage; "we have nothing to ask of Him, He has given us all we want, and we give Him thanks incessantly."
Candide had a curiosity to see some of their priests, and desired Cacambo to ask the old man where they were. At which he smiling said, "My friends, we are all of us priests; the King and all the heads of families sing solemn hymns of thanksgiving every morning, accompanied by five or six thousand musicians."
"What!" said Cacambo, "have you no monks among you to dispute, to govern, to intrigue, and to burn people who are not of the same opinion with themselves?"
"Do you take us for fools?" said the old man. "Here we are all of one opinion, and know not what you mean by your monks."
During the whole of this discourse Candide was in raptures, and he said to himself, "What a prodigious difference is there between this place and Westphalia; and this house and the Baron's castle. Ah, Master Pangloss! had you ever seen El Dorado, you would no longer have maintained that the castle of Thunder-ten-tronckh was the finest of all possible edifices; there is nothing like seeing the world, that's certain."
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