Candide, written by Voltaire and published in 1759, is based in the Age of the Enlightenment. Candide is a satiric tale of a virtuous man's search for the truest form of happiness and his ultimate acceptance of life's disappointments. The illegitimate son of the Baron's sister; Candide is raised in the Castle of Westphalia and taught by his friend and philosopher of metaphysic o-theology -- nig ology, Dr. Pangloss. Candide is abruptly cast out from the castle when he and Lady Cunegonde are found indiscreetly kissing behind a screen. Broken hearted and emotionally lost by the separation from Lady Cunegonde, his true love; Candide wanders off.
After being tricked into servitude with the Bulgar army, Candide discovers that his one and only love Lady Cunegonde is dead and his friend Dr. Pangloss is deathly sick; Candide then decides that all is not lost and that a cure must be found for Pangloss. Tragedy, adventure and a series of horrible events follow Candide as he is forced to overcome misfortune to find true happiness; in the end he determines that all is not well and that he must work in order to find even a small amount of pleasure in life. The principal theme presented throughout majority of the novel is 'Optimism' by the main character Candide and how that theme is incorporated into his winning outcomes of terrible situations. His good friend and philosopher Dr. Pangloss first introduces this Optimism that Candide believes.
Yet this optimist foundation is being constantly challenged throughout the story. For the greater portion of the story and in most unfortunate situations, Candide has been counseled by his philosopher friend and teacher that everything in the world happens for the better. As Candide's critical thinking grows in the story, whenever something unfortunate happens, Pangloss would turn the situation around, bringing out the good in it. Candide learns that optimism is 'The passion for maintaining that all is right when all goes wrong ' (Voltaire, p. 86). Even though Pangloss is stricken with a terrible illness that leaves him less some major body parts, yet he praises the possibilities of optimism after receiving a respectable job.
'Private misfortunes contribute to the general good, so that the more private misfortunes there are, the more we find that all is well' (Voltaire, p. 31). It is only near the end of the book that Candide comes to his senses and realizes that Optimism isn't all that great and perhaps not what he was inevitably looking for. It is Voltaire's distaste for the aristocracy and all their materials goods and nobility is transferred into this book.
It is obvious that he is mocking societal and religious sects. Voltaire uses his writing as a vice to get his voice heard. He has encountered a series of events that show the injustice and corruption of mankind. For example, Voltaire wrote that ' man kind have a little corrupted nature, for they were not born wolves, and they have become wolves; God has given them neither cannon of four-and-twenty ponders, nor bayonets; and yet they have made cannon and bayonets to destroy one another.
Into this account I might throw not only bankrupts, but injustice which seizes on the effects of bankrupts to cheat the creditors.' (Voltaire p. 31) This book by Voltaire is timeliness and on the whole pleasurable and quite entertaining. While Voltaire lacks plot and character development he makes up for it in escapism and humor. It is delivered as dryly as is his sarcasm. This French societal exposition with short twists and turns make the reader care about him, and the characters, but at most we feel something better will come of it and move on to the next situation. I am sure that if read in the original text, the characters would not seem so uniform no matter what their social standing or upbringing.
I desired more literary exploration but was merely satisfied at the end with Voltaire's subtlety to look at our own lives first. This is a book definitely worth buying.