Benjamin J. Koerner English 2100 Prof. Kantor Final Essay essay #4 Voltaires Social Commentary In Voltaires Candide, Voltaire presents a story with a distinctive outlook on life. He tells of a world that has gone mad and is laced with evil.
Voltaire questions optimism, philosophy, and absolutes. Through his story he exploits absolutes such as: justice, happiness, true love, humanity, brotherhood, and many others. He leaves the reader feeling that the world really is a cruel place and that happiness is hard to come by. By using the main character Candide, a naive and innocent optimist, Voltaire ridicules concepts such as: belief, philosophy, religion, and absolutes in society. Candide and Pangloss are infact used to show the ludic racy in complete optimism.
Most of the remaining characters, especially Martin are rational and pessimistic. But, Pangloss shows how ridiculous optimism is through his irrational and inane feeling that everything is for the better even after being hanged, dissected, and beaten. Voltaire also makes commentary upon true love and happiness when Candide and Martin discuss the joyful couple they see. Martin assures Candide that the couple are hiding their pain and Candide argues that they are content, yet upon further review we find out how really depressed the couple is. In addition to the topic of happiness and true love Candide marries Cunegonde even though he is no longer is in love with her and she cannot make him happy. This may prove Martins theory that man was born to suffer.
In conclusion, what looks or sounds like true love and happiness, is only a front for depression and anguish. Voltaire also debunks the absolutes of brotherhood and humanity in many episodes of the story. For example the Portuguese Jews hanged simpl because they chose not to eat the bacon with their meal and when the good hearted Anabaptist Jacque is killed upon the sinking vessel. These examples Voltaire has chose to create convey the feeling that the world is cold and lacks a recognizable purpose. At the end Candide returns from the cold world and removes himself from the corruption of society only to isolate himself in his work. Only here can he safeguard himself from the evils abroad.
This is the only place he could find happiness even though he searched for it through out the world and was rudely awakened finding himself discontent and craving something else.