Personal Response to Voltaire’s Candide

Candide, possibly French writer Voltaire’s most famous work, is a satirical novel that follows the adventures of the titular character and a revolving door of companions as he embarks on a worldwide journey to find his one true love/cousin and prove that the world doesn’t totally suck.

I went into Candide completely blind, but although I have a mild interest in classical literature, I didn’t expect any surprises from it. This is probably why I was completely caught off guard by the book’s hilarious wit, brisk pacing, and rather progressive themes considering the time in which it was written. All of this made it a thoroughly enjoyable read. However, something I enjoyed considerably less was the story’s consistent cynicism, a worldview I personally find exceptionally grating. Fortunately, the humor and absurdity of the situations Candide and his companions constantly found themselves in counterbalanced this to a degree.

Easily the most interesting thing about the work, in my opinion, was it’s ending. Upon initial reading, it struck me as rather bittersweet. However, after a reread and further consideration, I suspect it was intended to be a happy ending for all the major characters. The reason for my initial interpretation, I think, was because the pace of the ending was so much slower than the rest of the book, and considerably lacking in humor. The bulk of the book, despite depicting the genuinely awful suffering of the protagonist and his friends, is often so absurd (especially to a modern audience), and filled with so many witticisms, that the audience perceives it instead as an epic adventure rather than Candide being unceremoniously jerked around by the string of fate. By the time we reach the conclusion, which is peaceful by comparison, we, the audience, don’t find it as entertaining as what came before, and therefore register it as bittersweet, despite the characters arguably being happier.

Although the story was likely intended with a message, I believe how that message is received by the audience is highly dependent on the individual reader. For example, I interpreted it as “Life won’t always be good, and suffering is inevitable, but one always has the power to make it better,” but I can easily see how someone else could come away from it thinking the message was “Life is unfair, so the best one can do is to keep their head down and work.” Neither of these messages are objectively wrong, but I doubt either are what Voltaire himself intended.

Personal Response on Candide by Voltaire

After reading Candide by Voltaire, I think the book is bittersweet, and it leads me to wonder about the difference between the two philosophies raised in the book and how it relates to Xunzi’s philosophy. 

I found myself entertained and confused throughout reading the book. For example, the book is very adventurous; multiple events and incidents happen in just a tiny chapter. Therefore, sometimes it gets out of hand and I lose track of what happens. Besides that, satire is used a lot by Voltaire. I enjoy how Voltaire raises serious problems and criticizes other religions, cultures and books. For example, the bible is often used as a reference, “for when man was placed in the Garden of Eden he was put there ut operaretur eum, so that he might work: which proves that man was not born for rest.” (P.170). Using other books, cultures and religions as a reference can make readers feel more comfortable; it helps raise questions and opinions from the readers. But I do not have a lot of background knowledge on a different culture, historical events, and books; thus, sometimes, I will get confused and not understand the problem raised using satire. 

In Candide, Voltaire brings up two different philosophies through the two characters, Pangloss and Martin. Martin is used as a foil to Pangloss, and his philosophy is entirely different from Pangloss’s. Pangloss’s philosophy is extreme optimism. He believes that we live in the best of all possible world, and “everything is for the best.” (P.58) On the other hand, Martin is the exact opposite of Pangloss. He believes that the world is evil, expects everything for the worse, and what appears to be happy is certainly not. For example, “Until now in all the inhabitable world, except for El Dorado, I have come across only unfortunates. But for this girl and monk, I will wager that they are truly happy creatures.” 

“I will wager that they are not.” (P.90)

Martin and Pangloss’s philosophy reminds me of Xunzi, an ancient Chinese philosopher. Xunzi argues that if human nature is good or bad, he believes human nature is evil, and they are born to care about their interests. This is similar to Martin’s philosophy. Still, Xunzi believes that people can be good and selfless with the proper nurturing and teachings from teachers and parents. 

For me, I absolutely disagree with Pangloss’s philosophy. Growing up, I have always been told that it is “God’s Plans” whenever something unfortunate happens, but it still does not change the fact that it happened, and there is nothing that is beneficial. Like Candide, Pangloss would say it is for the best whenever something terrible happens. I think one of the reasons people would say everything is for the best is that they refuse to accept that bad things are happening, and it would make them feel safe thinking that it has a good reason for terrible things to happen. In other words, they are in denial. Though I do not entirely agree with Martin, Xunzi’s philosophy is a better fit to describe people; I believe that human nature is flawed, and we are born to care about our own self-interest. I agree with Xunzi that we can be kind and selfless if we have a good influence or nurturing.

Personal Response to Candide

After reading Candide by Voltaire, I thoroughly enjoyed the chaos and mischiefs that occurred in the book the most. I found the content and stories to be most interesting and enjoyable to read. The book was filled with action and conflict and reading how the characters develop throughout the book was fascinating as well. When describing Candide’s adventures, Voltaire did an exceptional job. The diction used was very easy to comprehend and made it easier to read. So much content is explained and described in very few pages which made the book fast paced and straightforward. The topics Voltaire refers to and writes about in Candide is eye-opening. It shines light on many major issues and he describes these topics in his own way. 

I found that when reading Candide by Voltaire, I disliked the offensive satire. Satirical writing I feel can be humorous and funny to an extent and it can be used as a way to raise serious issues. It can be a way to talk about serious topics in a lighter, less heavy context. Satire is a good way to bring up significant topics in a humorous way and can be used in a positive way to create a positive impact. But, when writers cross the line and are writing offensive and racist comments, that is where it stops being humorous. Voltaire made comments that crossed the line in this book which I personally did not find enjoyable to read.

The philosophical questions brought into the story were very effective in making me question my own beliefs. It made me think of the different views and beliefs I follow and how it affects my day to day life. Pangloss’ philosophy “Best of all possible worlds” was interesting to think about because I did not agree with him. Especially with the context and events in the book and all the suffering and injustices that are mentioned, I would definitely disagree with Pangloss’ belief.


PR to Candide by Voltaire

Candide by Voltaire is a very clever and satirical piece of writing. Throughout the entire story, Voltaire continues to make jokes making fun of our world, which I found very clever. I didn’t find them funny but instead I saw them as a clever way Voltaire used to spread how he thinks about this world. For example, in chapter 23, an admiral is executed in order to encourage the rest of the army to fight harder. This was a reference to a real life situation during Voltaire’s time, which was the execution of admiral John byng. Voltaire was known to have disagreed with this execution, and i think he is writting about it because he is trying to show how he felt it was stupid through satire. 


The character Candide is an innocent character which waddles through a very chaotic and depressing world. I believe Candide is just a tool for Voltaire to show how he views the world. Candide in his adventure witnesses countless chaotic and stupid things happening which are all based off real world situations. It makes me think that the reason Voltaire made candide was to show his audience the depressing nature of our world. Especially since candide is a very innocent character which emphasises the chaos because there is lots of contrast. 


Overall this book was pretty enjoyable. It concluded with an ending quotation, “we must cultivate our garden,” which I believe means that Candide now o knows to stay away from the world as it causes trouble. Just stick to your friends and family and people who are close to you. What the world does is none of your business.

Candide Reflection

Candide by Voltaire was a novel that I personally really enjoyed compared to the other pieces of literature we have read so far this year. It was easier to understand and overall comprehend the whole storyline. I really like how the novel demonstrates and conveys many significant issues to Voltaire through the characters in the book that were significant in the 18th century. For example, the injustice of the lives of women at that time, being used for sexual services and living miserably. I feel like I gained a better understanding because of the stories of the characters Voltaire writes about. Voltaire’s sense of humour was entertaining to read, including religion, status, and race. However, his humour and ideas about certain groups were quite strong and very expressive at times. At times I didn’t particularly like how he described certain groups and freely expressed his opinion. Sometimes it seemed like he was making fun of them. Another thing I disliked is that I felt like everything was happening really quickly, and Candide’s journey seems to be going by very fast throughout the book. Several events and ideas were presented within a chapter, which really made me reflect upon whether being grateful and optimistic is the best thing to do when your life is filled with so much grief, tragedy, and misery.

Throughout the novel, we encounter many problems around the world during Candide’s journey, such as justice and overall cruelty. Voltaire demonstrates why philosophical optimism is not true by having very optimistic characters about everything though they suffered tremendously. Candide and his beliefs regarding optimism also made me question whether it was true and ask myself to what extent we should be optimistic. Voltaire’s philosophical argument was greatly expressed through Candide’s journey. Another key part of the philosophical argument was how someone could attain happiness? The bok teched how humans can choose whether or not they want to attain happiness, however, happiness takes hard work, and dedication, without only sitting and relying on others to attain that contentment .” We must cultivate our garden,” Candide’s last conclusion, I think, means that people should take care of their own needs before trying to take care of others. As well’s learning something new every day and having the determination to keep going.

Candide personal response

One thing I enjoyed during my reading of Candide, was the use of Satire. It especially stuck out to me later on in the novel as I became more used to Voltaire’s style of writing. It is crazy for me to think of Voltaire, living in those times, and having such an advanced perspective on the world. He was way ahead of his times, and in the novel Candide, Voltaire made sure that his opinion would be clear. He wrote the novel in a  silly satirical way which I enjoyed reading.

I disliked how freely Voltaire made fun of people during this time, as he was one of those people that he made fun of. Candide almost set Voltaire out of the playing field on a pedestal of his own, without people disliking him. As he was the writer of this novel, he was allowed to do this, but it was done in such a way that it showed his ego through the writing.

Voltaire wrote about awful things that were happening around the world, and he used them to try to create change, but people also saw this as a joke and it made people laugh which should not be done over such trivial topics.

Candide Personal Response

What I like from Candide was how many events happened spontaneously and takes you to different places in each chapter, even if the chapter is one page, it surprises you with things that happen as the characters go through. This makes the events of the story unexpected. I also learned  from the real life events from a perspective from someone who lived around the years of the events. The use of words were not formal, it was easy to understand.

What I did not like is that there are so many events that it skips some transitions between events. I would like it to have more content between transitions, so it gives us more information about the real-life events. The way the satire uses humor with racist comments and prejudices weren’t good.

In Candide’s final conclusion, “we must cultivate our garden”, the word “cultivate”, in this case is a big word, it conveys that is a way to mature and grow, no matter what they lived, the tragedies they lived, they can take it as knowledge they learned about the world and leave it behind so that they can continue and find something that doesn’t make them miserable. It also tells us that they are not focusing on someone else, they are focusing on themselves, however, it is not clear if the garden is a literal meaning or a deeper meaning.

Candide PR

I found Candide to be a very entertaining yet interesting book, it consistently kept a balance of humour (satirical) and thought provoking content. There were some really interesting questions that Candide raised for me. The main one can really change the way you think sometimes, and it’s the question of whether optimism is really a good way to look at things, especially knowing there is so much suffering, struggle and tragedy every single second of your existence.

This question of whether optimism is practical in our world isn’t really directly asked or addressed in Candide, but the conversations and questioning of philosophy, religion and why people suffer is constantly being talked about. I found while reading those conversations addressing those subjects I would question those philosophies and it would really make me delve into the different ideas of why humans suffer and if it’s fair to be so optimistic if we know about the suffering around us, or if it’s even possible to optimistic about our existence with that underlying mental block that suffering is constantly happening. I believe the main reason I was asking these questions even though they weren’t directly addressed was because Voltaire seemed to be trying to explain his philosophy through a story, personally I think using this way helped Voltaire explain his philosophy because he used it to criticize other groups of people through satirical humour while keeping his overall ideas organized and communicated.

To conclude I really enjoyed Candide for one main reason, and that was his ability to transform a complex idea (his philosophy) to an easier understandable format which could keep readers not only entertained, but in question and debate if his philosophy, which creates opportunities for further questions or new ideas of what the most ideal philosophy for happiness is.

PR: Candide

While reading Candide by Voltaire I had many feelings towards the book. I thought some parts were funny, some parts were sad, some parts even made me think about philosophical questions, and some of the parts were disturbing.

In the beginning of the book, I didn’t really notice Voltaire’s use of satire. This was mainly due to not really having any background knowledge of the book, but for the most part I took everything I was reading to be extremely odd and nonsensical. Once I read past the first two chapters I realized that the book wasn’t (really) nonsensical, it is just very fast paced and full of satire. The first time I noticed this was when Candide joined the Bulgarian army and then while going for a walk was accused of trying to escape the army. After that he was given the choice of “running the gauntlet” or being executed. This was extremely confusing at first because it didn’t make any sense to me, and seemed really unbelievable. When I realized a lot of it was satire about different aspects of society, it started to make more sense to me.

Although a lot of it is comedic, it is also sad and disturbing at times. When the auto de fe happened in the beginning of the book, it changed the mood of the book a bit for me, and I realized not all of it is just comedy. When I realized this it raised the question for me, why was society so much more violent in Voltaire’s time?

All of these ideas were always brought back to the same idea, is everything for the best? Even when people are drowning, getting burned alive, hung, beat, robbed, the philosopher Pangloss is always arguing that everything is for the best. We see his counterpart later in the book, Martin, who believes nothing is for the best. What really stood out to me in the end is the quote, “Pangloss declared that he had always suffered horribly, but having asserted that everything was going wonderfully, he would continue to assert it, even though he did not believe it in the least”. This was shocking to me because throughout the whole book, Pangloss argued even to the death that everything is for the best, but at the end his view seems to change. This made me wonder if this is because of Voltaire’s philosophy on the world, and maybe he doesn’t think Martin or Pangloss’ philosophy is correct, but it is a bit of both, kind of like Pangloss believes in the end.

Overall I enjoyed Candide because most of the book was entertaining and surprisingly fun to read. Although I didn’t find it that funny, it was very comedic to read because of how obscure the events in the story were. Voltaire’s use of satire and philosophy tied the whole story together nicely and ending the book with the popular quote, “we must cultivate our garden” was very powerful.

Candide Personal Response

Candide by Voltaire for me is a ride of roller coaster that I have never expected. With over 100 pages of story, satires and idealism, it is quite surprising that Voltaire has included a lot of valuable content in it. The characterization was well done, everyone had a role and flowed seemingly well in the story. Especially Candide and Martin, who are each others’ foils to the core. On one hand, Candide, who was raised by Pangloss’s ideals, grew from an innocent young man at the core of his soul, to someone who has gained a better understood of the opposite of the coin (that Optimism is not the answer to everything). This is also due to Martin’s contribution, as he show a totally opposite view with Pangloss since the very beginning of his appearance in the story. However, the referencing in the book, while hold great importance in Voltaire’s humor, it is still a little hard to understand sometimes. Although this is my subjective view, I think it is still worth mentioning. Lastly, pacing in Candide can be a little too fast that it might leaves readers somewhat confused as well.

This leads me to my next point about the importance of suffering in Candide. As I have mentioned, while the pacing can still be somewhat quick, it blends well with the characterization that Voltaire wants to convey. For example, Pangloss is a character who holds strong beliefs in being optimistic about everything, is then slowly broken down by the hardship that he have gone through and how in some circumstances, things could have gone better, if he was not believing so much in the idea. When Jacques was drowned, Candide could have safe him if it was not for his intervention, which ultimately proves that: if everything is for the best, how come can we still find situations that we have full control over? Additionally, Candide’s suffering, different from Pangloss, seemed to invite readers in his point of view, as a learner, so that it provides readers a better speculation of Voltaire’s criticism.

Then, at the end of Candide’s suffering, Voltaire had left us a concise but very important life lesson in the form of tending to our garden. “”That is well said,” Candide replied, “but we must cultivate our garden.”” (Voltaire, 119) While it can be openly interpreted, the overall essence of the message is still something anyone can learn from. It strong implies that suffering, albeit terrible or ugly, sometimes we just can not comprehend it, it can wreck our life in many ways or forms. Moreover, maybe we can never understand why we must suffer so much. Despite this, it is our job not to fight back on it, but to continue and embrace the process as we go and that is where the true strength of a human lies.

Candide Personal Response

I enjoyed reading Candide more than the other books that I have read this year. It was easier to read than the Odyssey and easier to read than Oedipus as well. This is because all my life I have been reading literature that was not written in ancient times.  I like how Voltaire made the story full of action and how he put the Odyssey’s worth of content into one hundred pages. Voltaire made the story seem extremely unrealistic which makes it humorous. Candide is constantly being ripped off and is constantly having bad things happen to him. Still he believes that his sufferings are the best of all possible worlds. He is quite optimistic which causes the reader to like his character even more.

It was easier to read than the Ancient Greek books because the tone was more casual.  When talking to someone the characters in Candide did not address them before saying a word to them like in the Odyssey or in Oedipus. there also did not seem to be as many commas and colons in Candide which also made it easier to follow. the sentences were more clear. That could also be since I am used to reading more recent literature so I am used to the mood and diction of Candide.

The quotation said by Candide in the last chapter “we must cultivate our garden” never really jumped out at me but I can see how it did to many people. I did not see it as a significant quotation when reading it but after thinking about it in English class today I understand the meaning Voltaire was trying to convey.

Candide lives!

From Candide, Chapter XXIII:

Talking thus they arrived at Portsmouth. The coast was lined with crowds of people, whose eyes were fixed on a fine man kneeling, with his eyes bandaged, on board one of the men of war in the harbour. Four soldiers stood opposite to this man; each of them fired three balls at his head, with all the calmness in the world; and the whole assembly went away very well satisfied.

“What is all this?” said Candide; “and what demon is it that exercises his empire in this country?”

He then asked who was that fine man who had been killed with so much ceremony. They answered, he was an Admiral.

“And why kill this Admiral?”

“It is because he did not kill a sufficient number of men himself. He gave battle to a French Admiral; and it has been proved that he was not near enough to him.”

“But,” replied Candide, “the French Admiral was as far from the English Admiral.”

“There is no doubt of it; but in this country it is found good, from time to time, to kill one Admiral to encourage the others.”

Today, we merely fire such people, usually:

SAN DIEGO — The captain of a San Diego-based aircraft carrier battling an outbreak of COVID-19 on his ship was fired as commanding officer Thursday, days after his letter decrying conditions on his ship became public.

Acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly announced the firing during a Pentagon news conference.

“At my direction, the commanding officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, Capt. Brett Crozier, was relieved of command by a carrier strike group commander, Rear Adm. Stuart Baker,” Modly said.

Capt. Brett Crozier wrote a letter late Sunday asking the Navy to remove 90% of the crew of the Theodore Roosevelt to halt the “ongoing and accelerating” spread of COVID-19 on board. That letter was published Tuesday by The San Francisco Chronicle and generated headlines nationwide.

On Wednesday, the Navy announced it was moving almost 3,000 sailors off the ship and working to find space on Guam for more.

Modly said he wasn’t sure whether Crozier leaked the letter personally, but he said Crozier didn’t do enough to ensure the letter didn’t get out, saying it was copied to many people outside the captain’s chain of command.

“It was copied to 20 or 30 other people,” Modly said. “That’s just not acceptable. He sent it out pretty broadly and in sending it out pretty broadly he did not take care to ensure that it couldn’t be leaked.”

That, Modly said, demonstrated “extremely poor judgment” in the middle of a crisis.

HL “Candide” Posts: General Feedback

Most of you made only a minimal effort on this assignment: a short paragraph or two with some general remarks about the story.

In a good personal response, you need to include quotations and page citations. You need to discuss more than just one or two incidents from the story. You need to dig deeper into the philosophical questions raised by the story. You need to analyze the *way* the story is written, and how that connects with the story’s content. And you need to edit and proofread your writing.

Only one of you met that standard, and I urge all of you to read that post and learn from it.