The book shows a number of issues related to the topic at hand. One of the key areas addressed is the issue of happiness. With the plot mostly showing suffering and pain, the pursuit of happiness is a key theme highlighted in the book. Comparing the character of Candide with that of Martin shows a significant difference. One of the key traits of Candide is the fact that he was taught philosophy and believed it to be true despite the fact that he had not learned anything meaningful in his life other than the proposed philosophy of optimism, metaphysical-theology-cosmology.
The emphasis on happiness is the pursuit of love for Cunégonde, the Baron’s daughter. The baron is the brother to Candide’s mother who refused to marry his father since his father was not royal enough. The nobles had a lineage, and with satire, Voltaire displays how much wealth and money are valued in the community, back then and in the contemporary world as well. The baron is very cautious of nobility and believes that his daughter cannot marry Candide, because candid is a commoner. The baron had given Candide a place to live and accorded him an ostentatious lifestyle until one day when he found Candide and Cunégonde kissing, which led his dismissal from the mansion and out to the streets where life was extremely difficult. Apparently, Candide’s mother would not marry Candide’s father because he only had seventy-one family ties, yet she had seventy-two and thus to her, Candide’s father is a commoner, and commoners and nobles cannot get married.
Religion, on the contrary, is portrayed as highly judgemental, where the churchgoers ask Candide if he believes in a perfect world and if he sees the essence of sin in this world. In his contention, he believes in free will and this thus makes the churchgoers so furious that the pour human waste on his head. The indication of religion as a hypocrisy state also has been done through the emphasis of the use of satire, whereby the fact that Candide had planned to work on a Sunday almost had him killed, showing how priests and kings who upheld religion also took up god-complexes. Candide was almost killed until the king realized that he was a freethinking philosopher and thus he was acquainted with all his charges through the King’s pardon. Eldorado is the perfect town, where religion makes all people equal and not to mention the fact that no one does wrong because people understand what is right and plan to do it.
One of the key reasons why Candide can be referred to as the least wise person is the fact that he sticks to a belief that he knows is impractical, yet maintains a perspective that shows that he is still a believer in the philosophy. Taught to him by Pangloss, the philosophy operates on one main platform that is optimism, arguing that the world is the best of worlds, since the Lord, who is a perfect God, created it. Pangloss and his philosophical believes uses this philosophy to feel contented with his life despite the fact that he understands very well that he lives a perfectly imperfect life.
Another reason that makes Candide foolish is the fact that he thought people in Eldorado were foolish. When he sets out to go seek Cunégonde, he tries to take with him as many ‘pebbles’ as he can from the people of Eldorado. The pebbles that children play within the kingdom are emeralds, diamonds, and rubies because the community is made of people who are not greedy in any way. However, he thinks that they do not understand the value of the so-called pebbles and he sets out on a greed-oriented venture to carry as many pebbles as he can, a foolish mistake that almost has him killed by the King of Eldorado.
Another key reason why Candide can be termed as a foolish person is the fact that he believes in free will, yet never exercises it. Unlike Jaque, who believed that the world was a great place, only that people were bad, and still managed to create a change to the world, Candide is a thinker, who keeps holding on the philosophy alongside his lost teacher Pangloss, who contracted syphilis and got a number of defects, including losing his ears and his eyes. Candide is a foolish person because he never thinks on his own. All thoughts imparted to him were another man’s and believing in a philosophy that no one respected was an aspect of involuntary brainwash.
Candide fails to see the bad in people, or the bad in the world, despite the fact that he undergoes much suffering including the weapon whip he gets from his fellow war men from the Burglar’s camp, is beaten by other people, kills two people and still maintains the believe that the world is perfect despite his sinful ways. Arguably, the fact that Candide gets pushed around by everyone, such as being forced to join the Burglar’s Army, allowing people to beat him, and the fact that he fails to acknowledge there are bad people in the world, such as the Jew slave owners whom he killed. His knowledge is a way to mask his ignorance, thus making him the least wise character, despite the irony that he studies philosophy.
Martin, on the other hand, is very pessimistic and realistic about life. Unlike the philosophers, he is a learned clinical practitioner and he is very talented at what he does. Martin’s worldview is relatively similar to that of the old woman, who summarizes life as misery. She believes that seeing the world in a pessimistic view has given her more knowledge. Arguing that Candide never does that, it is logical to conclude that with their current worldview, Candide and Pangloss have shielded themselves from true knowledge, and are as ignorant as they are foolish. A wise man learns from his mistakes or his failures, but Candide never seemed to learn, which thus characterizes him as a foolish character. El Dorado represents the land of peace and happiness, the reward for persistence.
Works Cited: Voltaire. Candide. New York: Wildside Press LLC, 2007. Print.