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“Candide” is an extremely humorous, fantastic story by Voltaire who decided to write a tale which would satirize the optimism promoted by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. The attacks are determined to reach not only the philosophers of the new period who propagated absurd ideas, in his opinion, but also the Church. Voltaire argues that those ‘enlightened’ did not propose any new ideas which were unknown before. However, they stressed on the abilities of the human mind which are not possible to reach, therefore, feeding people with empty, false hopes.
When referring to the religious issues outlined in the tale, Voltaire concentrates all his attention on the high level of hypocrisy which infected each step of the Church. The Inquisition was still rampant, and the Inquisitor felt free to execute any citizen who had different philosophical views, accusing him of heresy. All church officials in the tale are depicted as the most sinful people possible: Having lovers, homosexual relationships, and acting as the thieves of jewellery. Probably, the worst sin that exemplifies the clergy’s hypocrisy is the fact that the highest of them, the Pope, has a child, despite all his vows of celibacy.
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Gardens are mentioned in several central passages in “Candide”. First of all, the uncle of Candide banishes him from the village house together with the garden of the family after he sees Candide and Cunégonde kissing. This exclusion from the garden presupposes and satirize the story about the Garden of Eden, therefore, the religious, Biblical story represented by the Church.
In El Dorado, Candide has an opportunity to enjoy an unbelievably beautiful natural landscape that is even much better than the beauty of the Baron’s house. However, this setting is fantastical but only transitory on the way of the main protagonist. Eventually, at the end of the tale, Candide buys a farm and spends the rest of his life on cultivating and working in a garden. This gives Candide a good chance to learn a life lesson and remove the complacency that appeared as an outcome from his preceding philosophizing for an energetic commitment to his surroundings. The change of philosophizing and a resulting passivity to real work and final activity seems to give a great deal of relief to the protagonist as well as to his friends.
Unfortunately, the symbolism of Candide’s dedication of life to gardening is not quite clear. The probable idea is that it strongly reflects that significant alteration of character and the beginning of a completely new life for Candide. With seeing different gardens, he saw different selves. By choosing living and working on his own garden, Candide chose self-development and understanding of the main principles of vital life functions which mostly lie in the ability to be in peace with oneself as well as remain in harmony with the rest of the world, ad trespass all potential negative threats that can hinder this personal growth.
He makes this crucial step despite all his philosophizing and the habit for a new mode life to the one he chooses in the end of the story. After he rejects the philosophy of Pangloss together with his behavior, Candide starts thinking about his own behavior forgetting about insolence and selfishness which were clearly the main features of his personality at the beginning. He starts building something that is completely his own.
On the other hand, the Candide’s return and total dedication of his time to gardening can be understood as not really an act of beginning from the blank page, however, just as a substitution of the philosophy of the farmer to the one of Pangloss. Even though it can reveal some inclination towards a much greater commitment to the world, garden cultivation can also be perceived as a refuge or escape from that very commitment to the greater world full of suffering, which quite an opposite point of view possible to be ascribed to Candide’s actions.
Turning back to the first garden that the author represents in the story, the Garden of Eden can also be understood as a pointless endeavor to renew the faith and purity that the main protagonist lost due to the multiple misfortunes and negative challenges.
“Things Fall Apart” by Achebes as well as “The Kingdom of This World” by Carpentier represents a two quite different, however, at the same time, two very similar stories which depict the same ideas with different composition, style, and approach. The concepts of the magical realism are opposed to the ideas of the social realism creating a powerful mixture which dutifully reflects the ideas of human weaknesses in the face of power and money. The idea is especially topical for the modern life which is driven by the consumer’s demands, frequently, putting material things higher than the moral values.
Both authors outline the insurmountable influence of greediness and narrow-mindedness on the personal relationship and even good manners of people. They show how difficult it is for people to be able to get rid of their old foes that drag them into the abyss. Even in case of reaching something high which the individual could not even dream about, the vanity and shallowness would make people do blunt mistakes which could both destroy their success as well as themselves.
Carpentier stresses also on a very interesting topic which concerns the difference between the actions and the revolutions. On the one hand, he refers to a well-trodden subject that was and still is the topic of discussion, and nowadays, the number of people who are trying to dedicate their lives to inspire and motivate others by their own actions, books, and words, is constantly increasing, stressing on the importance of real changes in the society. Carpentier focuses on the importance of the revolutions and stresses on the futility of the actions. The author thinks that if do something, than it must be a great change within oneself, and only then this change can be spread on others. However, most people are just in the state of actions which still make a difference in comparison with those who do nothing, though this difference is not so impressive as when a drastic change takes place.
On the contrary, Achebe shows the reader another situation: The anarchy which can result from a revolution by a person who is not ready for it inside. Even one internal flaw can cause massive troubles across the whole nation, and ruin everything on its way, especially the main initiator and its closest followers (family and friends).
Achebe stresses on the unity: Both within and out. He thinks that the person cannot be alone in the world, even if he or she is perfect inside, in his thoughts and motifs. For the total harmony and, therefore, happiness, an individual needs a unity with the community. The most significant point is that this community should be alike in its views on politics, religion, various values, etc. In case of major differences as well as strong foreign impact, the community will fail turning into a ferocious force of chaos.
This foreign influence is not only perceived literally. Achebes stresses that even technologies, governmental activities, and commerce can ruin the inner peace and lead to a general chaos. In such a case, the destruction is much stronger and more unchangeable, if changeable at all, because the profound, essential values of the nations are demolished. People lose faith, and forget what their religion is. They look at the fellow citizens and see only hypocrisy, treachery, and vanity everywhere.
The government does not help to solve the issue, however, only adds up to it by the lack of sincere care for its people and by deceitful promises and false hopes. The religious intrusive presence or its total absence in combination with the wrong-doings of the government lead to a complete fall-apart of the society.
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