Voltaire’s novella Candide can be regarded as a biting satire of the political and cultural life in eighteenth-century Europe. In this work, the author attempts to explore a great number of problems such as incessant wars, philosophical beliefs of this period, colonialism, and many other problems which affected thousands of people.
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To a great extent, this work is aimed at showing that in various European societies, people could be treated only as objects that did not have the capacity to think and feel. In many cases, they were denied the right to humanity. In his turn, Voltaire attempts to demonstrate the destructive nature of this ideology.
It should be mentioned that for a long time, Candide remains virtually impervious to the outside world. In fact, he lives in the castle of his uncle, Baron of Thunder-ten-tronckh (Voltaire 5). To some degree, the protagonist is convinced that he lives in an ideal society in which suffering and injustice do not exist.
However, when Candide leaves the castle, he is forced to join the war about which he does not know anything. Moreover, he is flogged for refusing to take part in the battle of the two armies (Voltaire 17). One should bear in mind that in the eighteenth century, thousands of soldiers were coerced into military service. Their opinions, needs, or views were rejected as something irrelevant. It seems that these problems remained relevant long after the death of Voltaire.
Additionally, in this novella, Voltaire highlights the immorality of slavery. The author mentions that the characters are enslaved several times. Moreover, in many cases, they are treated as mere objects that are not allowed to have their own values, ideas, or opinions. This is one of the details that can attract the attention of a reader.
One should focus on the narrative told by an old woman who has been enslaved for almost the entire life (Voltaire 27). In particular, she says that she has never been viewed as a living and thinking being by other people. This example is important for describing the moral problems which were not fully resolved in the eighteenth century.
Finally, it should be noted that the author does not attempt to provide solutions to the problems that he describes. The protagonist of the novella decides to end his travel and work as a peasant. He comes to the conclusion that devotion to work is probably the only worthy way of living (Voltaire 84). Moreover, he rejects philosophy as something unnecessary. This is one of the details that should be considered by readers.
On the whole, one can say that Voltaire’s Candide is an influential work of literature and philosophy. Admittedly, the author does not show how one could transform the European societies of that period. However, this novella can enable the readers to see how various countries evolved during the eighteenth century. Moreover, the work highlights the value of individuality and human dignity. These are the main issues that can be singled out.
Voltaire, Francois, Candide, New York: Sparklesoup LLC, 2004. Print.