Book Review Candide By: Voltaire In the book Candide the author Voltaire presents his ideas on life and the world through a satirical story. The main character Candide, is used to show his views through the different experiences and events that happen to Candide throughout the book. In his satire Voltaire seems to emphasize through Candide s adventures that in the world there is no such thing as reason and order to govern it. Candide showed how people become hypocritical and turn their backs on others when something of importance to them is involved. He is betrayed many times during his adventures by people he trusts, this betrayal only gets him into more problems than he had before.
One of the themes of the book is shown right away, when he is caught by Baron Thunder-ten tronckh kissing his daughter Lady Cun gone and is literally kicked out of the house by the Baron (21) and how he puts his trust in a ship captain with his riches so that he may go home to Europe (88-89). Both of these betrayals only create more problems for Candide when he is kicked out of the house and all his troubles to get through life begin when he goes to the dock and the captain of the ship had sailed away with all his riches. This shows that people in Voltaire s view are not perfect and are part of a deceiving and immoral world and far from reason and order. Reason and order should keep every aspect of a person in check so that there are no troubles in the world or in life. But, as we see in Candide that is not so and human brutality and injustice are a real part of the world and made it totally imperfect.
Voltaire also criticizes the brutality of war. Throughout Candide s adventures we know about war. Its senseless and hopeless brutality and the destruction and human waste that surrounds it. War reveals itself as Candide witnesses the casualties of war.
In the battle between the Bulgari and A bares Candide hides away to watch the battle and during this time he notices the many dead bodies of soldiers and innocent people because of war (25). Candide notices that there is no point in war between the two sides because there is ultimately no reason that can justify for so many dismembered and dead men. Another example is when Candide is captured by Oreillions who are at war with the Jesuits he is almost eaten by them until he proved that he was not a Jesuit by reporting that he had killed a Jesuit commander (69). This shows that wars can be justified by one little insignificant reason.
But, insignificant reasons give armies or people the justification to go to war and to fight brutally and kill each other. In war there is no reason or order. War in essence is irrational and a total disorder. For example, two sides might be fighting over a piece of land just because it has important significance to them, but in the end whatever side or army prevails the death and chaos resulting of this confrontation affects both sides and all around it. The world has no reason or order when the results of war are chaos and death, which is one of Voltaire s points. Candide s adventures are full of inexplicable things that are complicated by human errors and unkindness.
God s reason and order are foiled by human brutality and corruption. On one of Candide s adventures they meet an officer of the Inquisition (who seems to be a priest) with whom he begins to discuss about free will and disagrees that the fall of man ever occurred. Candide is arrested by the priest because of his blasphemous ideas (35-36). This shows how Voltaire thought of religion as a crooked institution that forced its ideas upon others and persecuted dissenting ideas trough the Inquisition. Another example is when Candide finds himself in Eldorado and an old man explains his religious views to him.
He tells Candide that there is only one god and he has supplied them with all that is needed to live (78). Candide learns that for the people of Eldorado there is no real religion or priests, but that every man has everything so they thank god and also they consider themselves all priests because they are from god (81). By these examples Voltaire explains and criticizes how a real tragedy religion is in Candide/Voltaire s world. How people / priests take advantage of it and exploit it for their own reasons and benefit. In the Eldorado example Voltaire shows the problems that he has with religion. Voltaire seems to point out that all people already have everything because they are alive on earth, as indicated, with the example of Eldorado, and that institutionalization of religion has corrupted it.
People believe in and trust in religion. Religion is very important for people but the institution that are supposed to practice and serve it, such as the priest, are not believing and practicing it. Voltaire felt that reason and order have no place in a world that has a corrupt institution such as the church that alters religion practices despite the willing of the people to believe in and trust in. So, if religion is so important to people and its institutions are not acting within reason then there is no purpose to believe in it.
Voltaire s ideas, represented in Candide s adventures, seem to show that because of man s own brutality and his own nature the world will never be perfect. What is worst, institutions such as the church, or war conflicts in which humans are the main actors are far from perfect and far from reason. On the contrary, humans are irrational and are part of the brutality of the daily life. In the story another example represents the fact that men are always greedy and that this trait dominates their lives. Candide who possessed a large amount of money had power because of it. This made many people jealous of him and wanted to take his riches for themselves.
When Candide is in France he is tricked by his abb, who seems to be some sort of guide, into going into a hotel where he will be arrested. Candide bribes the officer and the abb so that they left him alone (108). In this example, Voltaire shows the greediness of man and the lack of reason or order in the world. Is it possible to have a perfect world Is it possible to have a world without greediness, injustices, brutality, crooked religious institutions, war and other human frailties For Voltaire the answer appears not to be possible at all, and that is reflected in Candide s lost hope in the existence of a perfect and utopian world. Candide in the end appears to have loss optimism in a world that is surrounded by hopelessness and suffering.