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Little Words, Big Ideas
Candide’s love for Cunégonde is the driving force of his journey in the novel. The absurd lengths to which Candide goes to pursue his love, including abandoning the paradise of El Dorado...
Religion is one of the central targets of Voltaire’s mockery. Outside of the fantasy world of El Dorado, religion is consistently depicted as corrupting and morally bankrupt. Religious figure...
Society and Class
Power and status derived from lineage are portrayed as corrupting and ultimately meaningless in Candide. Individuals in positions of authority frequently abuse their power through the possession an...
Candide is full of philosophers and philosophizing, which only worsens the suffering of the characters. Dr. Pangloss’s endless philosophizing frequently distracts him and Candide from engagin...
Death and near-death experiences are pervasive in Candide. However, for nearly every death, there is also a resurrection. Like nearly everything else in Candide, Voltaire parodies death by frequent...
Candide portrays war as futile and wasteful both in terms of material and human sacrifice. Disgusted by the army and his own mistreatment, the protagonist escapes after he is conscripted by the arm...
The absolutist Optimism of Dr. Pangloss is frequently revealed to be irrational and unfounded in reality. The novel offers one example after another of pain, loss, misfortune, and suffering meant t...
Principle and virtue fare better than most ideals in Candide, and are mostly able to survive Voltaire’s scathing satire. Where religion and philosophy fail to unite people, principles of char...
Sex, like many other topics, is subject to Voltaire’s satirical assault in Candide. Sex is never mentioned positively; rather, sexual exploitation and violence are pandemic. Voltaire seems to...
Rapid changes in fortune through carelessness and robbery throughout the course of the novel mock greed and the acquisition of wealth. Wealth is portrayed as transient, and although beneficial, not...
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