A Close-Reading of Candide by Voltaire

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Through the novel Candide, Voltaire conclusively criticizes the society by employing various language patterns and imagery styles revolving around the main theme of societal morality. The novel is published in 1759 originally with a French setting, conclusively addresses the various issues of the society using carefully balanced pattern languages and motifs. Voltaire enlightens the reader of the novel in issues regarding superstition, far-fetched pride, hypocrisy and prostitution resulting from sexual immorality; without much trouble of toleration by the readers. The patterns exhibited in the novel are predictable as they all point out to an unfortunate eventuality for all the characters involved. It is highly suggestive that the author cleverly employed the styles of imagery and other literary devices to enlighten the reader on societal vices. The writer addresses several vices that are committed within the society.

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Humor has been extensively used throughout the novel to harmonize the direct embers of criticism by the author, making it one of the necessary styles. Voltaire has employed several elements of comedy and humor. Even the church is not spared through the cheeky dig aimed at it in the instances where the Pope sires an illegitimate girl child who eventually ends up a rot herself. This is managed by the structure; characterization and style that have been successfully used by the author to present his opinions and ideologies in some humorous way. One humor that stands up of all is the naming of the various persona and characters which bear distinctively funny names that match up their characteristics and behavior as portrayed in the novel. These names also go hand in hand with the situations in which the characters find themselves.

The characters in the novel unwillingly reveal part of their characters that they would not want to show to the outside world. Cunegonde, the Barons son is not capable of concealing his homosexual sensuality and characteristics. Pangloss on the other hand refuse to admit that he is wrong but this can be all shown in his talk and actions. They unwittingly express what they would like to hide. Cunegonde is unable to conceal her sensuality. The Barons son is unable to hide his homosexual tendencies. The humor goes bit over the line into crazy comics in other instance like the frustration of the eunuch, the experimental physics, the vulgar and disgusting relationship between the two beautiful ladies and the monkeys; and the supposedly missing bottom of the daughter of the Pope. However the author has found a humorous way to make these instances comical and can be withstood by the reader.

Apart from the comic and humorous approach to the style of writing, Voltaire has also used mockery and instances of irony. The ironical lifestyle of the alleged Popes daughter is a main instance here. She does not see anything weird with the option of suicide even after her immoral lifestyle. This is opposed to that which is generally expected of somebody of her status in the society. The Pope having a daughter in itself is a huge irony with regard to the churchs principles regarding that position. Apart from the several unconvincing trials of comedy in the novel, the author has used various instances of irony for example the description of the over optimism of some of the characters. An instance is the unbelievable and extremely ridiculous near death escape of the Barons son and Pangloss; the victory song by the kings and the instance involving the second earthquake following auto-da-fe.

The importance of symbolism is overemphasized as a great literary device employed by the author to enlighten the reader through suggestive language bringing clarity and vivid descriptions. Eldorado, has been portrayed as a symbol of the typical admired residence that exhibits happiness and perfection in equal measure. Paris on the other hand represents a place of discontentment and chaotic events. For instance, it is in Paris that Candide catches some illness and therefore negatively portrays the French society. The author in person also expresses his unhappiness in France as compared to England, as Candide does.

Just as the name suggests, Candide is portrayed as an innocent personality with an extremely charming personality compared to the other characters. Paquette on the other hand portrays the illness and filth of the society through her role as a prostitute as portrayed in the twelfth chapter of the novel. Through this she contracts Syphyllis and infects Pangloss. She is the Popes daughter who later exhibits heathen traits by doubting the very existence of God after her predicaments in life. Voltaires wish for the decadence of aristocratic rule is symbolized by the murder of the Baron and the torching of his castle. He could not have wish for a better fate owing to his predicaments in the hands of aristocratic regime.

The author also expresses the transition pattern from youth to old age through the character of Cunegonde who is angelic and pretty at the novels beginning but grows weary and ugly toward the end .She is the lady with the admirable beauty any man would wish for, but later depreciates to nothing in a fashion likened to the plight in shattered dreams and failed ambitions in the life an individual or society. The transition of life is portrayed by her character as a long but concise path that can be determined by the person living the life. It is more of make or break kind of decision that Cunegonde has eventually fallen to latter option.

The extensive use of patterns of literary styles of imagery and symbolism has been successfully employed to explicitly expose the common vices in the current society and equally educate the reader on the appropriate approaches to make on such occasions. In the initial chapters, the characters are finding it hard to live by the facts surrounding their lives and are rather clouded in hypocrisy and self-pride instead of the truth. These habits of pretense eventually lead them to the rot of their personality and ultimate desperation. However with time, their characters are revealed by natural causes and even by themselves unwillingly making foolery out of them. The vices and filth associated by various societies at the time of publication of the novel are also shown. The French capital of Paris has been repetitively cited as capital for bad omen and misfortune due to the illnesses of Candide and even the author in person. It is associated with rotten morals such as prostitution and homosexuality. The England and Eldorado specifically are on the other hand viewed as distinct places of relief and great experience.

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