Voltaire was a talented, assertive, and controversial French writer from the
eighteenth century enlightenment period. He was born in 1694 to a wealthy
family in Paris, and given the name Francois-Marie Arouet. During the early
years of his life Voltaire endured many hardships. For instance, his mother
passed away when he was seven leaving only his father and older brother to
raise him. Unfortunately, this added insult to injury as Voltaire despised
both his father and brother. Nevertheless, Voltaire’s determination allowed
him to rise above his early misfortunes, and he later went on to pursue
college at the College of Louis-le-Grand in Paris. Once there he studied
literature, despite his father’s wishes that he pursue a carreer in law. It
was during this stretch of the young writer’s life he first voiced his
oppositions on the established church and government in France. By the young
age of twenty two Voltaire was exhiled to Sully-sur-Loire for writing a
satire of the Duke of Orleans, the ruling regent of France. Voltaire’s bouts
with those in power continued throughout most his life. In fact, he was
subject to brief spells in prison on more than one occasion for aggrevating
the reigning Monarch.

Despite French governmental attempts to deter or imprison him, Voltaire went
on to become an exeptional philosopher, author, and leading figure of the
The overall message of “Candide” is that every human being has the power to
carve out their own destiny, and is not subject to God’s grand plan, or
predestination. In addition, Voltaire used the book to drive home his belief
God did not divinely pick the world from the cosmos and therefore “the best
of all possible worlds”. To get his propositions across Voltaire constructed
the character Dr. Pangloss, the tutor of young Candide. The name Pangloss
translated meant “windbag”, and implied a person was all talk. Early on in
the piece Pangloss made it evident he thought the world he lived was God’s
first choice when he stated, ” since everything was made for a purpose, it
follows that everything is made for the best purpose (20).” Of course his
philosophy was passed on to Candide who took it with him, as he set out on
his own. However, as the story progresses Candide encounters much chaos, and
brutality that forced him to question his beliefs. One example in the story
found Candide captured by the Bulgarians and forced to run the gauntlet
until he begged them to smash his head in. Moreover he later discovered
another terrible act when he witnessed the execution of an admiral for the
man’s failure to succeed in battle. Upon his inquiry of the justice of the
act Candide was told, ” it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to
time to encourage the others.” The author uses the scenarios above
intentionally to question how such things could come to pass in a world
blessed with God’s intervention.

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The motive’s Voltaire had for writing Candide were his disagreements with
the establishments of Absolute Monarchy and the State Catholic Church. He
not only argued against their existence as powers, but also with the rules,
belief systems, and laws they imposed on the general populous. Voltaire
believed men should have the right to worship what they chose, and the only
acceptable spiritual belief was Deism. Candide specifically attacked the
largely accepted philosophy of Optimism, theorized by Gottfried William von
Leibnez. According to Voltaire, the philosophy was perpetuated by the
Catholic Church to keep the people from questioning the many hardships they
endured. In addition to the attacks he waged personally, Voltaire was one of
the leading figures of a group of social critics called the philosophes. The
group spent their time criticizing Louis the fourteenth and fifteenth,
succession of the crown by heredity, and the other aspects already covered.
In short, the political climate building up to the first French Revolution,
and the beliefs Voltaire and his comrades the philosophes held concerning
the widespread social injustices, contributed to Candide’s creation.

Candide made it clear that during the time it was written people were
suffering for a plethora of reasons. Wars and small battles were commonplace
due to many factors, including the citizen’s general distaste of the
Absolute Monarchy. As a result, people frequently lost loved one’s to the
horrors of battle. Voltaire was a comforting voice of reason for those who
broken and confused over their religions failure aid them in any way. He
armed the people of his time with reasonable and intelligent arguments to
take with them when they fought for change.