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Candide

Elements of Candide

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One of the main elements present in Candide is satire. Satire is used in many ways, ranging from exaggeration to improper logic. In chapter two, the following events in Candide take place:

"One fine spring morning, he took it into his head to take a walk, and he marched straight forward, conceiving it to be a privilege of the human species, as well as of the brute creation, to make use of their legs how and when they pleased. He had not gone above two leagues when he was overtaken by four other heroes, six feet high, who bound him neck and heels, and carried him to a dungeon. A courtmartial sat upon him, and he was asked which he liked better, to run the gauntlet six and thirty times through the whole regiment, or to have his brains blown out with a dozen musket-balls? (Candide Chapter 2 1)



In vain did he remonstrate to them that the human will is free, and that he chose neither; they obliged him to make a choice, and he determined, in virtue of that divine gift called free will, to run the gauntlet six and thirty times. (Candide Chapter 2 1)"



This passage demonstrates a lot of the amusing satire of Candide. One of the main ideas satirized is the idea of free will. This passage shows Voltaire's ideas of free will, he believes that it is mostly nonexistant. Candide wishes to go for a walk; the army believes he is deserting and punishes him without giving him a chance to explain himself. After that, Candide determines that since there is free will, he shouldn't have to choose a punishment. Voltaire is also satirizing free will by saying that if there were true free will, no one would be punished, because they wouldn't have to be punished. In this passage, free will is portrayed as an abstract concept that has no bearing in the fabric of reality.
The other way that satire is used in this passage is through the use of improper logic. When it says that Candide, "determined, in virtue of that divine gift called free will, to run the gauntlet six and thirty times." This is improper logic because free will should let a person be able to choose whatever they want. Illogically, Candide's "free will" only lets him choose between two different deaths. In this way, Voltaire uses improper logic to satirize free will.

Another theme in Candide is the concept of a Utopian society. This is the idea of a perfect world, one in which money is immaterial, there are no arguments or disputes, everything is free, and everyone works together in harmony. Voltaire, knowing all the problems in the world, such as war, poverty, hunger, and corruptness, knew that a Utopian society could not be possible, but had Candide visit one. Candide finds the city of El Dorado, which is this perfect society.







"He and Cacambo landed near the first village they saw, at the entrance of which they perceived some children covered with tattered garments of the richest brocade, playing at quoits. Our two inhabitants of the other hemisphere amused themselves greatly with what they saw. The quoits were large, round pieces, yellow, red, and green, which cast a most glorious luster. Our travelers picked some of them up, and they proved to be gold, emeralds, rubies, and diamonds; the least of which would have been the greatest ornament to the superb throne of the Great Mogul (Candide Chapter 17 1)."







This passage states that children were playing with gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, and other precious jewels in the streets. Voltaire is immediately introducing the idea of money being worthless. Candide, of course, is astounded.







"Candide and Cacambo thought they should pay very handsomely for their entertainment by laying down two of those large gold pieces which they had picked off the ground; but the landlord and landlady burst into a fit of laughing and held their sides for some time (1).







When the fit was over, the landlord said, "Gentlemen, I plainly perceive you are strangers, and such we are not accustomed to charge; pardon us, therefore, for laughing when you offered us the common pebbles of our highways for payment of your reckoning."(1)"







After Candide eats dinner, he wishes to pay well by paying for his meal with gold pieces. However, he is laughed at, and the landlord tells them that these precious jewels are used to pave the roads. Voltaire is reiterating the Utopian idea of money being worthless. Later on, Candide visits a very beautiful house, that would be priceless in any other country.







"They entered a very plain house, for the door was nothing but silver, and the ceiling was only of beaten gold, but wrought in such elegant taste as to vie with the richest. The antechamber, indeed, was only encrusted with rubies and emeralds; but the order in which everything was disposed made amends for this great simplicity. (Candide Chapter 18 1)"







Voltaire is describing Utopia, and also throwing in satire in the form of understatement. The ceiling was only pure gold, and the main forum only had rubies and emeralds. The house was really priceless, but in a Utopian society, it was modest and had little worth. The idea of a Utopian society is a very important idea in Candide because it professes Voltaire's hate at poverty and greed. It also brings up the ideas that the world may be better if everyone worked together, and money didn't matter.

There are other examples of how Voltaire uses satire. A passage at the beginning of chapter three clearly shows how Voltaire combines satire and war.





"Never was anything so gallant, so well accoutred, so brilliant, and so finely disposed as the two armies. The trumpets, fifes, hautboys, drums, and cannon made such harmony as never was heard in Hell itself. The entertainment began by a discharge of cannon, which, in the twinkling of an eye, laid flat about 6,000 men on each side. The musket bullets swept away, out of the best of all possible worlds, nine or ten thousand scoundrels that infested its surface. The bayonet was next the sufficient reason of the deaths of several thousands. The whole might amount to thirty thousand souls. (Candide Chapter 3 1)"







This passage is another example of satire, in which Voltaire is satirizing war. He primarily uses exaggeration, since "in the twinkling of an eye, laid flat about 6,000 men." As can be clearly discerned from this passage, Voltaire thought that war was very foolish. The statement about harmonious weaponry juxtaposes war and Hell, comparing the two. The fact that the cannons killed 6,000 men off of the opening shots is an example of the wastefulness of war. The last line, that perhaps 30,000 men died, is an example of the exaggeration that shows that innocents are dying for no real purpose.

The last major element of Candide is imagery. In almost every chapter, Voltaire uses such vivid imagery that it makes the reader envision the exact scene. This helps Voltaire emphasize his points and his satire. By using better descriptions and imagery, the readers can better envision what events are taking place, and therefore can be more influenced by the points Voltaire is trying to make.















At one point in chapter two, "One fine spring morning, he took it into his head to take a walk, and he marched straight forward, conceiving it to be a privilege of the human species, as well as of the brute creation, to make use of their legs how and when they pleased. He had not gone above two leagues when he was overtaken by four other heroes, six feet high, who bound him neck and heels, and carried him to a dungeon. A courtmartial sat upon him, and he was asked which he liked better, to run the gauntlet six and thirty times through the whole regiment, or to have his brains blown out with a dozen musket-balls? (Candide Chapter 2 1)"















Voltaire is using imagery to satirize the foolishness of war and the army. By using vivid descriptions, the reader can imagine exactly what is going on, exactly what things are like for Candide. In this way, they sympathize with his plight, and recognize the foolishness that Candide never got to explain himself. Using this imagery, Voltaire can better prove his point.















Other strong imagery follows. "Candide was flogged to some tune, while the anthem was being sung; the Biscayan and the two men who would not eat bacon were burned, and Pangloss was hanged, which is not a common custom at these solemnities. The same day there was another earthquake, which made most dreadful havoc.

Candide, amazed, terrified, confounded, astonished, all bloody, and trembling from head to foot, said to himself, "If this is the best of all possible worlds, what are the others? If I had only been whipped, I could have put up with it, as I did among the Bulgarians; but, not withstanding, oh my dear Pangloss! my beloved master! thou greatest of philosophers! that ever I should live to see thee hanged, without knowing for what! O my dear Anabaptist, thou best of men, that it should be thy fate to be drowned in the very harbor! O Miss Cunegund, you mirror of young ladies! that it should be your fate to have your body ripped open!" (Candide Chapter 6 1)"







This strong imagery and the speech from Candide allows the reader to sympathize with Candide. The imagery allows the reader to imagine the earthquake, see Candide being whipped, and understand his horror after Pangloss got hanged. This helps emphasize Voltaire's point that optimism is foolish. It also shows that this is clearly not the best of all possible worlds. All this imagery helps Voltaire get his points across to the reader.







The last main example of imagery occurs when Candide visits the Utopian society in El Dorado. "They entered a very plain house, for the door was nothing but silver, and the ceiling was only of beaten gold, but wrought in such elegant taste as to vie with the richest. The antechamber, indeed, was only incrusted with rubies and emeralds; but the order in which everything was disposed made amends for this great simplicity. (Candide Chapter 18 1)"







This description produces many results. It aids in the satire of the unnoticed wealth of the society. It helps the reader envision what the country is like, and how overwhelmed Candide must be. Primarily, it helps the readers familiarize themselves with the Utopian society. It allows for a better understanding of the Utopian society. Throughout the novel, the use of all this imagery definitely helps Voltaire stress his points and some of the main themes.

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