Candide by Voltaire


Word Count: 988

My book report is on Candide by Voltaire and consists
of 326 pages. Voltaire\'s Candide is the story of an
innocent man\'s experiences in a mad and evil world,
and his struggle to achieve happiness without having
to work and taking the easy way out of all situations.
Everyone has to work and eventually they will achieve
happiness and joy but in Candide\'s case, after a long
and difficult struggle in which Candide is forced to
overcome misfortune to find happiness, he concludes
that all is not that easy and that he must work in
order to find even a small amount of pleasure in life.
Candide grows up in the Castle of Westphalia
and is taught by the learned philosopher, Dr.
Pangloss. Candide is abruptly exiled from the castle
when found kissing the Baron\'s daughter,
Cunegonde. Devastated by the separation from
Cunegonde, his true love, Candide sets out to
different
places in the hope of finding her and achieving total
happiness. On his journey, he faces a number of
misfortunes, among them being tortured during army
training, yet he continues to believe that there is a
"cause and effect" for everything. Candide is
reunited with Cunegonde, and regains a life of
prosperity,
but soon all is taken away, including his beloved
Cunegonde. He travels on, and years later he finds
her
again, but she is now fat and ugly. His wealth is all
gone and so is his love for the Baron\'s daughter.
Throughout Candide, we see how accepting situations
and not trying to change or overcome obstacles
can be damaging. Life is full of struggles, but it
would be nonproductive if people passively accepted
whatever fate had in store for them, shrugging off
their personal responsibility. Voltaire believes that

people should not allow themselves to be victims. He
sneers at naive, accepting types, informing us
that people must work to reach their utopia (Bottiglia
93).
In Candide, reality and "the real world" are
portrayed as being disappointing. Within the
Baron\'s castle, Candide is able to lead a Utopian
life. After his banishment, though, he recognizes the

evil of the world, seeing man\'s sufferings. The only
thing that keeps Candide alive is his hope that
things will get better. Even though the world is
filled with disaster, Candide has an optimistic
attitude
that he adopted from Dr. Pangloss\' teachings. In
spite of his many trials, Candide believes that all is

well and everything is for the best. Only once, in
frustration, does he admit that he sometimes feels
that
optimism is "the mania of maintaining that all is well
when we are miserable" (Voltaire 41). Candide\'s
enthusiastic view of life is contrasted with, and
challenged by the suffering which he endures
throughout the book. Voltaire wrote this book in a
mocking and satirical manner in order to express
his opinion that passive optimism is foolish (Richter
134).
Candide eventually learns how to achieve
happiness in the face of misadventure. He learns that

in order to attain a state of contentment, one must be
part of society where there is collective effort and
work. Labor, Candide learns, eliminates the three
curses of mankind: want, boredom, and vice. In
order to create such a society, man must do the
following: love his fellow man, be just, be vigilant,
know how to make the best of a bad situation and keep
from theorizing. Martin expresses this last
requirement for such a society succinctly when he
says, "Let\'s work without speculating; it\'s the only
way of rendering life bearable" (Voltaire 77).
One of the last people that Candide meets in
his travels is an old, poor Turkish farmer who
teaches Candide a lesson which allows him to come to
terms with the world and to settle down
happily. The revelation occurs when Candide and his
friends hear of the killing of two intimate
advisors of the sultan, and they ask the Turkish
farmer if he could give them more details about the
situation.
Upon learning that this man did not own "an enormous
and splendid property" (Voltaire 76), but rather a
mere twenty acres that he cultivates with his
children, Candide is startled. He sees that the man
is
happy with his life, and at that point Candide decides
to build his own life around the principal of being
productive. He decides that all he needs to be happy
is a garden to cultivate so that he, too, can keep
from the three great evils.
Candide\'s garden symbolizes his surrender to
the world and his acceptance of it. He eventually
realizes that his former ambitions of