candide vs the book of job



Candide and the Book of Job
Religion has been a staple of human society since the dawn of recorded history and probably traces back even further. All religions found in history have one common theme between them besides their belief in a supreme power. Each religion helps explain what man cannot. Since Emperor Constantine changed the Roman Empire to Christianity, the faith has dominated western civilization. Voltaire, one of the most prominent philosophers of the Enlightenment, deals with the principles of Christianity in the book, Candide. Through an allegory of the Book of Job in the Old Testament of the Bible, Voltaire questions the struggles of men on Earth.
Voltaire’s main character, Candide, is somewhat of a simple man living a happy life in the castle of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. Voltaire chooses the name Candide, a French adjective rooted in the Latin word “candidus“ or white, for this character to show that he is an innocent person with good intentions. He lives here with the Baron because he is the illegitimate son of the Baron’s sister who was unwilling to marry his father since he was poor. Voltaire has Candide born out of wedlock, a sin according to Christian principles, to prove that he is born into sin. Candide is raised in the castle along with the Baron’s son and daughter, Cunegonde, and the three of them are taught by Pangloss.
Pangloss teaches a philosophy known as optimism to the three children. Optimism believes that this is the best of all possible worlds and all events on Earth are due to cause and effect. The philosophy also holds that every event is necessary for one reason or another. Pangloss’s teachings are representative of the Christian religion. According to the word of God, every man who believes in him and asks for forgiveness of his sins receives eternal life, the best possible world. Unfortunately, due to the sins of Adam and Eve, man must live life on Earth before he can reach the perfection of Heaven, and the trials of life on Earth, brought on by the Devil, are meant to test man’s faith in God.
In the Book of Job, Job is a man raised on strong Christian principles. He believes strongly in the word of God and practices all of the duties set forth by God for man on Earth to follow to gain his favor. Job lives before the crucifixion of Christ that promises forgiveness for all sins but he is the closest man alive to following the will of a vengeful God. Both Job and Candide follow their philosophies strictly while everything remains good in their lives.
Candide finds his world crashing around him after he is caught by the Baron kissing Cunegonde, and he is flogged and banished from the castle. Shortly after his departure, Bulgarian armies find him and, as Voltaire describes, he is forced “to run the gauntlet thirty-six times and actually endured two floggings. The regiment was composed of two thousand men. That made four thousand strokes, which lay open every muscle and nerve from his nape to his butt.” Eventually the King of Bulgaria saves him, and he escapes to find Pangloss, now a beggar. Pangloss tells of the destruction of the castle of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh and the apparent death of the family.
Although devastated by the loss of his love Cunegonde, Candide manages to keep his belief in optimism. Pangloss aides his belief by stating that he has caught a venereal disease that can be traced back to the Americas, but he believes that it is okay due to his belief in optimism. He explains to Candide,
“. . . it’s an indispensable part of the best of worlds a necessary ingredient; if Columbus in an island of America had not caught the disease, which poisons the source of generation, and often indeed prevents generation, we should not have chocolate and cochineal.”
Job also manages to keep his beliefs through his first trials of faith. After Satan challenges God that Job cannot keep his strong faith if he did not have his magnificent success, God tells Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.” Satan preys on every one of Job’s livestock, as