Voltaire was a talented, assertive, and controversial French writer from the eighteenth century enlightenment period. He was born in 1694 to a wealthy family in Paris, and given the name Francois-Marie Arouet. During the early years of his life Voltaire endured many hardships. For instance, his mother passed away when he was seven leaving only his father and older brother to raise him. Unfortunately, this added insult to injury as Voltaire despised both his father and brother. Nevertheless, Voltaire's determination allowed him to rise above his early misfortunes, and he later went on to pursue college at the College of Louis-le-Grand in Paris.
Once there he studied literature, despite his father's wishes that he pursue a career in law. It was during this stretch of the young writer's life he first voiced his oppositions on the established church and government in France. By the young age of twenty two Voltaire was exiled to Sully-sur-Loire for writing a satire of the Duke of Orleans, the ruling regent of France. Voltaire's bouts with those in power continued throughout most his life.
In fact, he was subject to brief spells in prison on more than one occasion for aggravating the reigning Monarch. Despite French governmental attempts to deter or imprison him, Voltaire went on to become an exceptional philosopher, author, and leading figure of the enlightenment The overall message of 'Candide' is that every human being has the power to carve out their own destiny, and is not subject to God's grand plan, or predestination. In addition, Voltaire used the book to drive home his belief God did not divinely pick the world from the cosmos and therefore 'the best of all possible worlds'. To get his propositions across Voltaire constructed the character Dr. Pangloss, the tutor of young Candide.
The name Pangloss translated meant 'windbag', and implied a person was all talk. Early on in the piece Pangloss made it evident he thought the world he lived was God's first choice when he stated,'s ince everything was made for a purpose, it follows that everything is made for the best purpose (20). ' Of course his philosophy was passed on to Candide who took it with him, as he set out on his own. However, as the story progresses Candide encounters much chaos, and brutality that forced him to question his beliefs.
One example in the story found Candide captured by the Bulgarians and forced to run the gauntlet until he begged them to smash his head in. Moreover he later discovered another terrible act when he witnessed the execution of an admiral for the man's failure to succeed in battle. Upon his inquiry of the justice of the act Candide was told, ' it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others. ' The author uses the scenarios above intentionally to question how such things could come to pass in a world blessed with God's intervention. The motive's Voltaire had for writing Candide were his disagreements with the establishments of Absolute Monarchy and the State Catholic Church. He not only argued against their existence as powers, but also with the rules, belief systems, and laws they imposed on the general populous.
Voltaire believed men should have the right to worship what they chose, and the only acceptable spiritual belief was Deism. Candide specifically attacked the largely accepted philosophy of Optimism, theorized by Gottfried William von Leibniz. According to Voltaire, the philosophy was perpetuated by the Catholic Church to keep the people from questioning the many hardships they endured. In addition to the attacks he waged personally, Voltaire was one of the leading figures of a group of social critics called the philosophes.
The group spent their time criticizing Louis the fourteenth and fifteenth, succession of the crown by heredity, and the other aspects already covered. In short, the political climate building up to the first French Revolution, and the beliefs Voltaire and his comrades the philosophes held concerning the widespread social injustices, contributed to Candide's creation. Candide made it clear that during the time it was written people were suffering for a plethora of reasons. Wars and small battles were commonplace due to many factors, including the citizen's general distaste of the Absolute Monarchy. As a result, people frequently lost loved one's to the horrors of battle.
Voltaire was a comforting voice of reason for those who broken and confused over their religions failure aid them in any way. He armed the people of his time with reasonable and intelligent arguments to take with them when they fought for change.