Candide Voltaire

In Voltaire’s “Candide” the issue of humans being confused creatures is seen through the main character, Candide. Like Candide many wander searching for ultimate happiness which they sometimes mistake for wealth, beauty, or power. In some cases, people become so obsessed with such desires that they lose consciousness of morals. Often resulting in them stealing, lying, or even killing to obtain such needs. In Candide’s case it was Cunegonde which he thought could fill the void of happiness; although he later learned that happiness comes from oneself.

Money is the common desire among most people. Simply because it allows one to live an easier life, a life which one is guaranteed shelter, food, and better health. The quote “the good Pangloss had often proved to me that the goods of the earth are common to all men , that each has an equal right to them p34” illustrates Candide’s reaction to having
Cunegonde’s pistoles and diamonds stolen and how money for survival will cause a desperate person to steal. The line “My lady you have seventy - two quarterings and not a penny; it depends on you alone to be the wife of the greatest lord in South America, who has a very handsome mustache; is it for you to pride yourself on an invincible fidelity? p42” depicts how people will consider having money under the worst circumstances.

In addition, money can become like a “god” to anyone who lacks love for
themselves. For example, a person may use money to buy friends, approval, or respect. Moreover, one can become so obsessed about having materialistic wealth which brings them short -lived happiness that they turn into a compulsive shopper. The phrase “I’m going to buy something to make myself feel better” is one echoed especially in the United States where mass consumers are popular. In brief, inner happiness can not be replaced by mundane riches.

Beauty is another shared desire by people. Good looks are often equated with respect and intelligence. Sometimes people that are not attractive are overlooked as having any human worth. The truth is that it is not outer beauty, but inner beauty which correlates with the notion of self happiness. Thus a person that is beautiful can not be content unless they are happy with themselves just as a person that is not attractive.

Furthermore, the lines “ I grew in beauty[ in the midst of pleasures, respect, and

hopes].” “Already I inspired love, my bosom was forming; and what a bosom! White, firm,

sculptured like that of the Venus de’ Medici.” “And what eyes! What eyelids! What black

eyebrows!” “[The women who dressed and undressed me fell in to ecstasies when they

looked at me in front and behind, and all the men would have liked to be in their

place.]”p36 illustrates an obsession with beauty. Clearly, the comparison to a Venus

sculpture, which were made as objects of gaze, and one’s body emphasizes a true fixation

with outer beauty. In short, the old women narcissistic quality is one that does not bring

eternal happiness because once her beauty faded she lost happiness.

Power is also like money in that it is necessary for survival. Similarly, when people
have power they feel happy by preventing unwanted effects from happening. However, when a person becomes disillusioned with power it leads to terrible misfortunes. For example oppression, war, rape, and death are all outcomes from an obsession with power that are depicted in “Candide.” Throughout the book, the outcomes of war are a central focus and the lines “they slaughtered my father and brother and cut my mother into pieces.” “A big Bulgarian six feet tall, seeing that I had lost consciousness at the sight of
this set about raping me.p30” prove this. In a like manner, the old women shares the same
ill luck as Cunegonde when she is raped and witnesses the killings of her soldiers, mother,
ladies of honor, and others. To sum up, power can be used for protection as Candide
utilized it to defend himself from Senor Don Issachar, but when it is used to maliciously
harm it is no longer moral nor does it grant self happiness.

Lastly, the book “Candide” vividly describes the horrid outcomes of relying on wealth, beauty or power to