The book is about a controversial character called Candide who has a very positive attitude that whatever happens will end in good things or have happy endings. As a result of this positive belief, the actor goes through many problems but with a resilient spirit which makes him determined to survive through the challenges, sees him through. Like any person who is prepared to survive, the protagonist had a mentor and coach going by the name, Dr. Panlosss. Dr. Panloss is the man who inspired the protagonist to be courageous and have a spirit which is unwilling to surrender to the problems of the world. The protagonist’s life challenges are not few, in fact it is like he has a fate of getting into problems and cannot be helped because almost everyone he meets cannot help him, and something terrible comes and happens to them, leaving the protagonist on his own. However, despite the difficulties the protagonist goes through, life leaves him with one lesson, that in life the only things that matters are good health, love and friends.
What I believe to be the overarching theme in Voltaire’s Candide is resilient and determination to live despite the challenges which life presents. In the book, everything is fine until Candide and Cunegonde start having feelings of love towards each other. But, since Candide is not a member of the family by birth, he does not have the necessary courage to ask the love of his love for a hand in marriage.
Cunegonde is forced to initiate the relationship on her own after she sees Pangloss and Paquette making love in the bush. She is comes near Candide and drops a handkerchief next to the protagonist. This act seduces Candide into kissing her and that is when hell breaks loose on Candide. The protagonist is sent away from the palace and later we learn that he was arrested by the Russian military officers who force him to join the military. Despite the hardships in the military like being whipped almost to the point of almost dying and fighting unwillingly in the war between the Abares and Bulgers, he succeeds in escaping to Holland.
This shows that through the main character, Voltaire successfully manages to highlight the main theme in the book, which is determination to live. 1Further, when one reads the book they find out that even though Candide’s lover is away, the protagonist is determined and very optimistic that one day they will meet again. The dream becomes a reality as the book ends.
Candide is a reflection of Voltaire’s historical situation and intellectual culture of his time. This reflection is covered in the whole book demonstrating that the main character Candide, might be the image of the author. Candide is a very philosophical person perhaps to symbolize the trouble that the author went through during his time as a young man. The main character therefore could just as well have been the equivalent of the author in real life. 2Through the protagonist, Voltaire is able to spread his religious, intellectual and empirical perceptions and ideas which came as a result of his ability to think with a free mind. Unlike other characters in the book that are unable to think freely, Voltaire demonstrates through the main character that despite the challenges of life, the brain should be free to think in a liberal manner. The author demonstrates that people should not allow life’s problems to enslave their minds.
Coffin, Judith & Robert Stacey. Western Civilizations. New York: Norton & Company, 2008.
Francois, Voltaire. Candide. New York: Kessinger Publishing, 2004