ENGL 2210 World Literature II

Essay topics for Voltaire's "Candide"

Read the essay writing instructions before you write your essay.

First "Candide" Essay. Select ONE topic.
  1. Discuss the role of philosophical optimism in Candide. Show how Voltaire contrasts harsh reality with the ideals of optimism to discredit optimism as a viable philosophy of life.
  2. Discuss Voltaire's portrait of religious figures in "Candide".
  3. Describe some of the satirical techniques that Voltaire uses to satirize "important" individuals, the military, and religious figures. How is the humor achieved in the description of the characters?
  4. Discuss the theme of religious hypocrisy and intolerance in Chapters 1-19.
  5. Voltaire seems to indicate that there is really no distinction between civil authority and religious authority, and between a soldier and a Christian. This begs the question: Can a true Christian, especially one in authority, be a soldier, according to Voltaire (NOT according to you)?
  6. Eldorado represents an utopian state, and yet Candide and Cacambo decide to leave. Do you think that utopias are desirable? Would you choose to live in a place like Eldorado? Is there anything wrong with a place like Eldorado?
Second "Candide" Essay. Select ONE topic.
  1. Discuss the female characters in Candide. Are they victims, or natural survivors? Do they deserve more pity or admiration. Take one side only.
  2. Show how Pangloss, Cacambo and Martin contribute to Candide's development.
  3. Show how Voltaire illustrates that greed is one of the main causes of evil in the world.
  4. The last chapter intends to provide an answer to the eternal question: How should one lead one's life. What conclusions do the characters come to regarding this? What advice are they given by the dervish and by the old man, and do you think this is good advice to at least render life bearable?

Your essay should be no less than 350 words, and no more than 400 words. Indicate the number of words at the bottom of the essay.