Candide: Transition Through Life and Literature

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Magruder 6

Talley Magruder

Dr. Kevin Hayes

World Literature II

11 March 2013

Candide: Transition Through Life and Literature

François-Marie Arouet, otherwise known as Voltaire, was a prominent writer of the eighteenth century. Despite having written several works prior to Candide, this work is viewed as one of his most popular. Though Voltaire's Candide was published in 1759 during the Neoclassical Period, it does possess characteristics that would cause it to ultimately be seen as a transitional work from Neoclassicism into Romanticism.

Neoclassical literature was heavily influenced by the ideas of the Enlightenment period, despite the fact that the neoclassical era began roughly fifty years after the start of the Enlightenment. This period proved to be a trying time for Europeans. Events leading to the Enlightenment were causing great turmoil, such as the English king's execution in 1649 and the French king's execution in 1793. "The notion of divine right, the belief that monarchs governed with authority from God, had been effectively destroyed" (Lawall 1).

Following neoclassical literature came Romanticism, which began in the later half of the eighteenth century. During this time, stronger emphasis was placed on feelings, imagination, adventure, and self-gratification for the individual. "As M.H. Abrams has written, 'The Romantic period was eminently an age obsessed with the fact of violent change.' Such change might provide ground for fear; it also supplied the substance for hope" (Lawall 487).

A strong characteristic of the neoclassical style that Candide possesses is the fact that the novel's protagonist, Candide, partakes in a journey where he eventually discovers the discrepancies of the world-by doing this, Voltaire is "[calling] attention to the deceptiveness and the possible misuses of social norms as well as to their necessity" (Lawall 3).

In chapter twelve of the novel, Cunégonde's servant-the old woman-tells Candide and...