Buenos Aires is what every reader of Voltaire’s Candide would liken the satire to, because similar to the city, it is unforgettable. The piece of literary work, whose French title translates to ‘honest’, is yet another reflection of the candid truths that Voltaire dedicated himself to telling through his impeccable writing. Using a sarcastic tone and an unpredictable and eccentric plot, the author, sets the right mood for the readers and keeps them glued from the beginning to the end. By building adversities and tussles, the main theme of the topic, which is optimism, is stirred and crashed.
The tale revolves around a German baron’s illegitimate nephew named Candide who grows up shielded in a castle and taught only to be optimistic. However, what fate has in store for him is far beyond what Pangloss, his mentor, leads him to believe.Candide states that, “He proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s castle was the most beautiful of all castles and his wife the best of all possible baronesses”(Barber, ch.1). Candide cements his destiny when he is smelted by a forbidden love for the master’s daughter Cunégonde, which declares him homeless and brings him face to face with the real world. Slowly but painfully, Candide learns and accepts that the perfect world does not exist but we somehow “must cultivate our garden”. Other than live smeared under an illusion because of blind optimism, people have to work through making the world what they want it to be.
The novella ridicules the society employing all the factors that characterize humanity including romance, political and social-economic struggles and hardships. It is in all the cruelties that Candide realizes that happiness is second to survival in this world. He finally understands that the world is bloodthirsty. To be happy, one has to fight and even kill if necessary. He becomes a fallen, beaten and battered victim of the same world he lived his entire childhood believing is nothing but the most desirable.
Barber, William Henry. Voltaire: Candide. No. 5. E. Arnold, 1960.