This novel, written in 1758, was centered on Voltaire’s unfortunate experiences with the shock of the earthquakes happening in Lima in 1746 and, 9 years later, in Libson. Both quakes wreaked harsh havoc, causing the death of over fifty thousand people and completely destroying each of the cities. Deeply offended by the ‘optimistic’ ideology the public uses in interpreting these events, which is based on the Christian philosophy of Gottfried William Leibinez, Voltaire uses Candide as a powerful, yet humorous way to retaliate against the church’s clergy and these overrepresented ideals. Voltaire was sixty-four years old when he wrote Candide. After serving two separate terms in the Bastille, being severely beaten for offending a courtier, and ultimately being exiled from Paris, he ended up near Geneva, where he began to reflect on the teachings of Leibinez and apply them to his past. This is the platform in which this novel came about. Voltaire is outraged at the church’s hypocritical practices and its abuse of power. It is important for the reader to note that he does not directly criticize the theory itself that Leibinez introduces regarding eventful reasoning, but the perception of the public in the overuse of the theory’s optimism. In doing so, he creates his most widely read piece, which will stand the test of time. Candide lived in Westphalia with Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, his wife, and their daughter, Cunégonde. He was educated by Pangloss, a philosopher who taught that the world they live in is the best of all worlds. Voltaire uses Pangloss’s theory repeatedly throughout the book, thus implementing the ideas of Leibinez. The plot involves one misfortune after the next, all with Candide constantly considering Pangloss’s teachings and convincing himself that each event is the best of all outcomes with a link between the cause and effect of each occurrence. Voltaire constantly demonstrates (mocks) the meaning of pre-determined harmony; that distress is not only good for each man who experiences it, but also good for a society as a whole. After falling in love with Cunégonde, a kiss is exchanged between she and Candide. Her father, Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, witnesses this exchange and drives Candide out of the estate with “powerful kicks on the backside” (pg. 21). This serves as the beginning of Candide’s many misfortunes that occur throughout the book, leading him all over the world to get caught up in numerous, coincidental, yet seemingly impossible events that are maintained, an in some cases survived, through the optimistic ideals in which Candide subscribes. After being kicked out of Westphalia, he finds himself in a position as an ill-treated soldier in Bulgar, followed by an escape that will lead him into Holland. It is here that he meets James, an Anabaptist, and also finds himself reunited with his old tutor, Pangloss. James does not believe in the philosophical advice that will be given to him by both Candide and Pangloss. After facing many unfortunate events, including a shipwreck that claims the life of James, an earthquake that claims the life of hundreds of people, and the hanging death of Pangloss, Candide discovers Cunégonde, who is in the possession of two men: a Jewish businessman and the Cardinal of Libson. Driven by the force of love, Candide kills both men and has to flee the area, gaining the company of an old lady and Cacambo, a servant. He is ultimately separated from Cunégonde and finds himself in the company of her brother, the leader of the Jesuits, which he gets into a conflict over Candide’s potential marriage with Cunégonde and eventually gives him a seemingly fatal stab wound to the stomach.
A series of misfortunes cause Candide and Cancambo to flee the area, leading them to a mythical land called Eldorado that proves to be the best of