Candide is the protagonist of the novel, but he is bland, naïve, and highly susceptible to the influence of stronger characters. Like the other characters, Candide is less a realistic individual than the embodiment of a particular idea or folly that Voltaire wishes to illustrate.
Candide’s name is derived from the Latin word candidus, which means “white” and connotes fair-mindedness or a lack of corruption. As that name suggests, Candide begins the novel as a perfect innocent—wide-eyed in his worship of his tutor Pangloss’s wrongheaded optimistic philosophy, and completely unfamiliar with the ways of the world. Over the course of the novel, Candide acquires wealth and even some knowledge about the world, and begins to question his faith in optimism. Yet that faith remains and is frequently reactivated by any event that pleases him, from the kindness of the stranger Jacques to the death of Vanderdendur, the merchant who cheats him. At the end of the novel, Candide rejects Pangloss’s philosophizing in favor of the practical labor that is introduced to him by the old farmer. While this shift in philosophy appears on the surface to be real progress, Candide’s personality remains essentially unchanged. He is still incapable of forming his own opinions, and has simply exchanged blind faith in Pangloss’s opinions for blind faith in the opinions of the farmer. Despite his simplicity, Candide is an effective, sympathetic hero. He is fundamentally honest and good-hearted. He readily gives money to strangers like Brother Giroflée and the poorest deposed king, and he honors his commitment to marry Cunégonde even after his love for her has faded. His naïveté, though incredible, makes Candide sympathetic to readers; the world of the novel is exaggerated and fantastic, and we are likely to find the events described as unsettling and confusing as he does.
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"Moreover, in the Garden of Eden Adam and Eve enjoyed the fruits of nature without having to work..."
I don't think that's true. Genesis 2:15 says, "The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." Adam's purpose was to work even before the fall, which happens in Genesis 3. Also, I don't believe that Adam and Eve fell from God's grace. Yes, God said "you shall surely die" if you eat of the fruit, and they did, but it was actually God's grace that made them go out of the garden to prevent them from li... Read more→
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What I got from this book is that whether Panglos is right or not. Whether Pessimism or Optimism prevailed, it doesn't do any good to philosophy over it.
Man was placed in the garden to work, not to be idle.
I believe that in the end Candide gave up on arguing - he simply realised the pointlessness of doing it and that true happiness will be by living life without thinking about it the whole time.
Thanks for your post.
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Honestly I don't think this book has anything to do with religion, right or wrong. Any type of theorizing, philosophy, formal religion, or even societal emphasis on what is important is represented as something negative. For example, all church figures are corrupt, philosophers Pangloss and Martin no matter what their opinions are either ignorant or miserable. The happiest (and eventually model) character is the farmer, who thinks and works for himself. Voltaire was jaded by the corruption of religion and hopeless optimism of philosophy and ... Read more→
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