Candide Paper

Candide Paper - During the 18th century many European...

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During the 18 th century, many European countries began to witness a vast revolution. This was no bloody uprising, though. Instead this transformation of the arts, sciences, philosophies, and politics of Western Europe, known as the Age of Enlightenment, peacefully changed the way much of the world viewed society and life in general. Much like the Renaissance several centuries before, this movement ousted the antiquated values and beliefs, or “Old Order,” which oppressed large portions of society while ushering in a progressive era distinguished by reason and freedom. Monarchs would no longer hold absolute rule through divine right. Longstanding scientific and philosophical beliefs were argued and challenged, frequently giving way to innovative advancements in areas like physics, astronomy, and politics among many others. All together, the Enlightenment paved the way for advances that are still evident in society today. This extraordinary makeover can be largely attributed to radical thinkers such as John Locke, Isaac Newton, and Rousseau. Voltaire, a philosophe and writer from the birthplace of the Enlightenment, France, also played a major role. He was well known for his unyielding disapproval of the Old Order. Nowhere else is this more apparent than in his most famous work, Candide. This novella is as much an attack on the “Old Order” of pre-Enlightenment Europe as the Inquisition was on heretics, albeit through a significantly less brutal medium. Throughout the book Voltaire depicts a melancholy, and often cruel, view of life in the West while the establishment of the Old Order rules over the continent. His account of a young German named Candide born into a family of barons almost overflows with devastating tales and clever colloquies featuring Candide and his companions. In his satirical style, Voltaire criticizes the ways of the Old Order and embellishes the story with Enlightenment principles. Voltaire introduces the initial characters in no less of a satirical style than the rest of the
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novel. He mockingly describes the wife of the Baron of Thunder-ten-Tronckh, Candide’s uncle, as weighing some three hundred and fifty pounds. He also teases the character Pangloss who is Candide’s mentor and tutor, saying that the philosopher teaches “metaphysico-theologo- cosmolo-nigology.” These humorous suggestions early on in the story make it clear that Voltaire means to take shots at the Old Order. However, it is often simpler to construe the true meaning behind a story by first looking at its ending. The very last line of Candide captures the essence of the entire Enlightenment movement in the most straightforward of ways. “All that is very well… but let us cultivate our garden.” Candide voices this to Pangloss who stresses many times throughout the story that all is for the best in this “best of all possible worlds” no matter what the situation, an idea that can be traced to the oppression brought about by the Old Order. With the
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2012 for the course EUH 2011 taught by Professor Auroramorcillo during the Fall '11 term at FIU.

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Candide Paper - During the 18th century many European...

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