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Free Study Guide-Candide by Voltaire-Free Online Book Notes Summary
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Candide as a Picaresque Novel

In Candide, Voltaire follows the tradition of the picaresque novel. The hero along with different characters moves from place to place. He goes through a series of adventures. There is no doubt that Voltaire exaggerates this technique which is already unsophisticated. Tragic as well as comic events are sudden and the coincidences are often unbelievable. Characters who are considered to be dead suddenly make their appearance again in the novel. Thus, the reader is surprised, but such happenings are not very unusual in a picaresque novel. The reader is shocked to know that Pangloss is saved after being stitched by a barber. One is surprised that Cunégonde is alive, and even more surprised that the Baronís son survives twice after being considered dead especially after Candide had run a sword through him.


Candide as an Autobiographical Novel

Though Candide is a work of fantasy, it is to a great extent influenced by happenings and experiences in Candideís own life. Voltaire, himself was ill treated and humiliated at the hands of Rohan-Chabot, a nobleman, just as Candide is beaten and humiliated by the baron and his son. Voltaire had known that even in the worst of circumstances some people from aristocratic families do not give up the false pride of their lineage. He has depicted this through the behavior of the Baronís family. Voltaire had known the fall of great people from their high positions. He has depicted this by introducing the kings who have lost their thrones. Voltaire himself hated Jesuits and clergymen. Thus he has written about them in a satirical fashion. He has depicted many evils that prevailed in the French society of his times.

Candide is innocent. He is like Voltaire. He is imprisoned for no fault of his just as Voltaire was imprisoned in the Bastille. The Baronís son humiliates Candide repeatedly just as Rohan- Chabot had done to Voltaire. Candide loves Cunégonde as intensely as Voltaire loved his beloved. Candide is assumed to be the illegitimate son of the Baronís sister. Voltaire also was assumed to be the illegitimate son of Rochebrune. Thus there are autobiographical elements in the novel.

Candide as an Adventure Story

The hero along with different characters moves from place to place and from event to event. His adventures are tragic, comic, and sometimes eerie. Some of the most serious incidents are unbelievable yet humorous. Pangloss is hanged with a wet rope. He does not die though he is considered to be dead. He is cut open for dissection. Yet he is saved since a barber stitches him. The Baronís son cured and saved even though Candide has run a sword through him.

Candide is an adventure story wherein the hero and his colleagues experience earthquakes, pirates, wars, shipwrecks, imprisonment, and also sudden and unexpected rescue. The adventures are sometimes too ridiculous. Hence some of them are unbelievable. At times it is like a folk-story or a mythological fairy-tale.

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