Essay on Candide

1499 words 6 pages
Candide Essay

Toward the beginning of the 18th century, a new ideology began to take hold of Europe. It was during this time that a radical and critical revolution took place to bring about the use of rational thought and enlighten the people about their own beliefs and values; thus igniting the period of Enlightenment. In this period many people followed the teachings of their forefathers, such as Socrates, who was considered a figure of skepticism and rational thought. Challenging all views and theorems was the main point of this new ideology. Voltaire, a very powerful and influential figure among the writers of the 18th century, was known for his rejection of religion and a devout deist. In one of his most famous works, Candide, he
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Montesquieu, a philosopher in the political arena, attacked any and all governments controlled by tyranny and introduced the idea of checks and balances. Rousseau, another philosopher, also attacked tyranny and claimed that it was the right of the people to overthrow the government if it violated social and political liberty because “the human race would perish unless it changed its manner of existence” (Perry, pg. 75) All these beliefs are reflected in Voltaire’s famous work, showing how and why the previous notions were detrimental to humankind. Now that one has the basic idea of the beliefs and values of the Enlightenment, we can see how Voltaire used Candide to reflect these. Voltaire rejected Christianity along with its emphasis on salvation. He embraced the Deistic belief that man was created by a god but left man to his own ways after creation. The following line from Candide reflects such a view: “When his highness sends a ship to Egypt, does he trouble his head whether the mice on board are at their ease or not?” (pg. 86) The highness would be God, the ship would be the Earth, and the mice would be men. It simply is saying that God would in no way trouble himself over the activities of man. Another example of Voltaire reflecting his deistic view of god would be how he had Candide experience the Lisbon earthquake of 1755. Voltaire uses this as an example that god neither loves nor cares

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