To plant the garden of your soul and care about it, make it beautiful, kind and bright. This wonderful principle first was expressed in the witty and excellent novel by not less excellent author Voltaire. The world we live in is hard , sometimes cruel and unstable. Each of us lives through many problems and dangers. Every day we fight to continuing our living. One has to bear that all but do that kindly , without evil in his heart. Candid says. These words became especially important and well-aimed in the 18th century that was proclaimed to be a century of Enlightenment.
Candide, the illegitimate son of a Baron's sister, was sent to live with the Baron at his beautiful castle in Westphalia. The Baroness weighed about three hundred and fifty pounds, as therefore greatly respected, and did the honors of the house it had dignify which rendered her still more respect. Her daughter Cunegonde, aged seventeen, was rosy-checked, fresh, plump and tempting. The Baron's son appeared in every respect worthy of his father. The tutor Pangloss was the oracle of the house, and little Candide followed his lessons with all the candor of his age and character.
Pangloss, "the greatest philosopher of the province and therefore of the whole world,"(Voltaire 1997: 86) taught Candide that he lived in the best of all possible worlds. His theory was that "since everything is made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end. "(Voltaire 1997: 42). Over the years at the castle, Candide adopted dear Pangloss' optimism. However, his bliss was not to be. Candide loon became infatuated with the beauty of Cunegonde, and one day had an intimate encounter with her in the castle. The noble Baron witnessed this scene and drove his daughter's young suitor out of the house.
With no provisions and no money, Candide quickly found himself recruited into the Bulgar army. But, tiring of army routine, and following Pangloss' theory that a I men were free, he simply walked away. He was caught, however, and forced to run the gauntlet. Collapsing after the second round, Candide begged to be killed, but was instead pardoned by the passing Bulgar king. Months passed. Pangloss and Candide were appointed accountants to the generous Anabaptist and journeyed with him toward Lisbon. Nearing the city, their ship was caught in a storm and sank.
All aboard were drowned except Candide, Pangloss, and a villainous sailor. Just as the three reached shore, a tremendous earthquake and volcanic eruption destroyed the city. The sailor went to work looting and plundering through the town's wreckage. Even though Candide and Pangloss tried to help the city's survivors, it was they who were arrested by a supersitious mob and slated to be human sacrifices to quell any further earthquakes. As Candide was reviewing the troops, the old woman arrived to warn him that a Spanish ship had entered the harbor; officials had debarked to arrest the murderer of the Grand Inquisitor.
Clearly unable to save Cunegonde from the governor's grasp, Candide and a servant, Cacambo, again fled for their lives. They joined with Paraguayan forces; and when Candide was taken to see the colonel, he was overwhelmed to recognize him as the son of the late Baron - Cunegonde's brother! The two hurriedly devised a plan for her rescue; but when Candide revealed his intentions to marry Cunegonde, the colonel flew into a rage. Candide was not of royal birth and had no claim to her. Candide stabbed him with his sword, then, once more, he and Cacambo excaped to the South American frontier.
In one of many strange encounters, Candide and Cacambo awoke one morning to find themselves in peril of being eaten by Oreillon natives. They were released, but only after convincing their captors that they were not Jesuits. Candide continued alone on his journey. A dishonest ship's captain stole Candide's last sheep and jewels, leaving the traveler once again miserable and destitute. Nevertheless, together with a new traveling companion, Martin, who had a little money, Candide sailed for Venice. En route, they came upon a Dutch and a Spanish ship at battle.
As the Dutch ship was sinking Candide learned it was the ship of the rogue who had stolen his sheep. Miraculously, he was able to recover one of the jewel-laden animals before the ship went down. All events are linked up in this best of all possible worlds; for, if you had not been expelled from the noble castle, by hard kicks in your backside for love of Mademoiselle Cunegonde, if you had not been clapped into the Inquisition, if you had not wandered about America on foot, if you had not stuck your sword in the Baron, if you had not lost all your sheep from the land of Eldorado, you would not be eating candied citrons and pistachios here.
All these events given above are necessary to understand all the kindness of Candid’s soul. "That's well said," replied Candide, "but we must cultivate our garden. " (Voltaire 1997 :36) Candide is easily Voltaire's wittiest novel. In its time it was a powerful tool for political attack on Europe's degenerate and immoral society. The work vividly and satirically portrays the horrors of 18th century life: civil and religious wars, sexual diseases, despotic rulers, the arbitrary punishment of innocent victims - the same enduring problems we witness today.
“Voltaire strongly opposed certain Enlightenment ideas about social class. Some Enlightenment thinkers promoted the idea of the enlightened monarch as an alternative to a radical reformation of society. ”(No author 2005: 1) Instead of denying the divine right of kings, the concept of the enlightened monarch relied on the idea that rulers could use their power to ensure the protection of their subjects’ rights. The reach of the monarch’s power could be extended so that he or she could ensure this protection. Thus, the name of the Enlightenment could be used to legitimize despotism.
Moreover, witch-hunts and organized campaigns of religious persecution continued well into the eighteenth century, and Enlightenment philosophy’s propagation of reason as a social antidote did not bring a halt to the ravages of superstition and fear. Candide illustrates this fact in the figure of the Grand Inquisitor who orders an auto-da-fe to ward off earthquakes, among many other examples. Voltaire’s work may be difficult for the present-day student to understand because it alludes to some very specific concerns of his contemporaries.
To better understand his wit as well as his relevant context, readers may benefit from consulting supplementary readings such as a history of the Enlightenment, a biography of Voltaire, or the writings of other Enlightenment thinkers like Rousseau and Leibniz. Through the constant misfortunes of Candide, Voltaire poses meaningful questions about the nature of suffering. Pangloss' philosophy is eagerly and enthusiastically accepted by Candide in the beginning of the novel. But toward the end of his life he refutes this Utopian theory, concluding that diligence in labor is the only answers to a life constantly riddled with bad luck.
Indeed, Voltaire teaches that man is incapable of understanding the evil in the world, and concludes that the fundamental aim in life is not happiness, but survival. Voltaire’s Candide recounts a young man’s journey from innocent youth to ripened wisdom, as he confronts arduous travel, grave misfortune, corrupt mankind and merciless Nature on his search for life’s meaning. Despite the volatility of bliss and misery, optimism and pessimism, the hopeful Candide, along with his childhood love Cunegonde, commit themselves to the pursuit of “Universal Good.”(Butt John 2004: 1).
Although the story deals with serious, even tragic matters, it does so with an extreme lightness of touch and often refreshing comic results. Candide, a naive young man living in the castle of the Baron of Thunder-Ten-Tronckh in Westphalia, gets caught kissing the Baron's daughter, Cunegonde, and is exiled from the castle. Candide embarks on a series of exotic and often horrific adventures which take him around the world in a search for Cunegonde which eventually leads him to enlightenment and wisdom.
Criticism of supposed inevitability of evil, suffering, and vice. Evil shown to be of human doing and solvable by intelligent and purposeful human action. Invitation to activism, rationality, and hard work in the quest for human happiness. Voltaire satirizes the philosophical optimism of Baron Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, a very popular German philosopher. The novel mocks Leibniz's ideas in the form of Dr. Pangloss's ordeals and his optimistic belief that everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds.
Vigorous criticisms of religious intolerance and superstition, war and violence, cruelty and greed, social inequalities and economic injustice, bigotry and prejudice, European colonialism/imperialism and nationalistic chauvinism Why is Candide driven away from the Baron's castle? What is his fault? What is Voltaire satirizing through the issue of Candide's lack of nobility? Why is Cunegonde so attractive to Candide at the beginning of the novel? Are there biblical allusions in the description of Candide's actions and his expulsion from the castle? What might this mean for the rest of the story? Do those allusions occur elsewhere?
In chapter 3, what does Voltaire mean when he says "volleys of musket fire removed from the best of worlds about nine or ten thousand rascals1 and the bayonet was a sufficient reason for the demise of several thousand others"(Voltaire 1997: 76) What is an auto-da-fe? What would you guess Voltaire made of such practices? In Chapter 17, Cacambo says that the new world is no better than the old and suggests that he and Candide return to Europe; what is Voltaire trying to say here? What is Candide finding out in the course of his adventures? Who is the real enemy? What is the source of all the evil?
In Chapter 16, Candide believes he has saved the lives of two girls; is Candide's belief alone enough to justify his actions? What is Voltaire satirizing in that episode? What does Candide's perception of the girls' lovers as dangerous animals suggest? Do those perceptions correspond to historical attitudes of white Europeans toward others? Is there anything ironic in Candide's gratitude toward the Oreillons's own customs? How does Eldorado compare to the rest of the world? What is the significance of Eldorado being hidden away and almost completely unreachable? What is the significance of people's attitude toward gold and jewels in Eldorado?
What does Candide learn in Eldorado? Why does Candide leave Eldorado? What is his goal? What is happening to Candide? Is he making any kind of progress? What does Candide mean when he says we should "cultivate our gardens"? ( Voltaire 1997 :36) All these questions can be answered referring to the century Voltaire lived in. “The Enlightenment” is the name for a movement that encompasses a wide variety of ideas and advances in the fields of philosophy, science, and medicine that began in the seventeenth century and peaked in the eighteenth century. Many historians mark the French Revolution as the crowning event of the Enlightenment era.
The primary feature of Enlightenment philosophy is a profound faith in the power of reason and rational thought to lead human beings to a better social structure. The political ideology of Enlightenment philosophers is characterized by a spirit of social reform. The champions of the Enlightenment called for rebellion against superstition, fear, and prejudice. They attacked the aristocracy and the church. Candide reflects Voltaire’s lifelong aversion to Christian regimes of power and the arrogance of nobility, but it also criticizes certain aspects of the philosophical movement of the Enlightenment.
It attacks the school of optimism that contends that rational thought can curtail the evils perpetrated by human beings. Voltaire wrote Candide toward the end of the Enlightenment. Based on a reading of Candide, what do you think his attitude was regarding the values of the Enlightenment? Voltaire uses an absurd tone and presentation of the story, which clearly incites laughter. Yet the often exaggerated, outlandish, and senseless events in the novel force the reader to confront the overdone, unbelievable and irrational nature of the real world.
Thus, the tone of Candide, which is usually ironical and satirical, underscores the theme of the work as a whole. More concrete examples of metaphor use obviously require a mention of the following: Eldorado: Eldorado is the mythical city of gold spoken about by many authors before Voltaire’s time. It symbolizes the physical embodiment of utopian ideals and the limitless potential of human reason. Pangloss’ optimism: Leibnizic optimism is heralded by Pangloss throughout Candide as the perfect, harmonious ordering of the universe. Among other things, it says that all things are for the best, that this world is the best of all possible ones.
Unfortunately for Pangloss and the rest of Candide’s characters, experience proves time and time again that the earth is not a utopia, that needless, irrational suffering does occur even to good people. In this way, Voltaire tears apart the deterministic optimism of Leibniz, Pope and others. Throughout Candide, Voltaire uses an absurd tone and presentation of the story, which clearly incites laughter. Yet the often exaggerated, outlandish, and senseless events in the novel force the reader to confront the overdone, unbelievable and irrational nature of the real world.
Thus, the tone of Candide, which is usually ironical and satirical, underscores the theme of the work as a whole. Humanity all along its long history has overlived a lot of interesting and exciting periods. Wars, epidemics, conflicts and so on. Why have we to live it all through ? That’s the question nobody can give the exact answer. Only some examples from the history appear in our mind trying to give us an answer. What could save us? What could give us a real pleasure? What could learn us to live in a correct way? How could all of us feel happy and bright?
The conclusion of Voltaire is that one must reject both optimism (represetned by Panglos) and pessimism (represented by Martin): man cannot erase cruelty from the universe, but he can protect some corners by prudence. The conclusion that we must cultivate our garden is inspired by Epicurus, but this philosopher believed that the world is made at random, whereas the main belief of the eighteenth century was that this was an orderly universe; this view was shared even by those who called themselves atheists (in other works Voltaire defended the belief in a Supreme Being against them).
Voltaire here seems to subscribe to the skepticism of Hume (1711-1776), a dissonant voice in the age of the Enlightenment. Voltaire certainly subscribes to radical Empiricism, because the main point is that the simple observation of facts proves the contrary of most theories accepted at the time. Each of us in the depth of his mind is looking for answer which could permit him to live like in Eldorado where all live like in Paradise. But our hero, Candid refuses that all. He is looking for something else.
He is sure that kindness, love and good attitude are able to win everything in this world. And he starts fighting. The garden of his soul he is planting and caring about can’t be mixed with a dirty reality. And that’s the answer to an eternal question : each of us in his soul has an island that is so attractive and beautiful . This island is kind, vivacious and so nice. One has to care about this island in his soul. One has to get enough will not to give access to evil. And then, having cultivate the garden of his soul, one can understand completely what “optimism” means.