Essay on Book Voltaire

Voltaire’s Candide

For background to the story, feel free to read the introduction of Brock’s translation.

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PROMPT: After a 1755 earthquake in Lisbon, Voltaire wrote Candide (1758-9) as an attack on “philosophical optimism,” which asserts we live in the “best of all possible worlds.” In many respects, Volatire was acknowledging that even though there were calamities (like natural disasters) outside of our control, some things should be changed to improve society – to this end, the book served as one of the most scathing satires of the early modern era. In your paper, chose one of the main figures from the text (like Candide, Pangloss, Martin, Cunégonde – in other words, NOT a minor character who only appears in one chapter), and assess how the character’s experiences allow Voltaire to target aspects of European history and institutions for his weapons of irony, satire and indignation.

The text is meant to be humorous in its absurdity, but really think about what Voltaire really thinks of philosophers, nobility, the church, and so on. MOST IMPORTANTLY – What is it about his critique that qualifies it as “enlightened”?

Check List for a Successful Paper:

Your paper MUST present an ARGUMENT, clearly and concisely stated in your OPENING paragraph – the rest of your paper should present relevant evidence in support of that argument – an argument is more than a descriptive statement; it must offer an explanation about causation – an ARGUMENT ANSWERS A WHY QUESTION RATHER THAN A WHAT QUESTION
Papers should be 2 pages in length (this means to receive full credit, it must be a FULL 2 pages – not 1¼ or 1 ½)
Typed in 12 point font, one inch margins, and double spaced – any variation or “funny” margins are really obvious and will result in a lower grade
Number your pages
Make sure that it is stapled prior to coming to class
Write in proper English and proofread carefully; neatness counts! Correct all spelling or grammatical errors – if your paper is sloppy, you will receive a very poor grade
Each body paragraph should have a topic sentence and a concluding sentence that reviews what has been proven, and provides a smooth transition into the next paragraph
You must include 3 quotes from the text, but do not pad your paper with long quotes (No block quotes) – especially don’t expect a quote to “speak for itself,” as it won’t, explain and discuss all of your quotes. Only use quotations to illustrate points that you have made in your own words
Make sure that you give the page number for your specific quote – using parenthetical citation is fine. For example = “after your quote.” (23)
Make sure that you introduce or set up each quote with a lead in phrase – do not just throw them into a paragraph – give your reader some indication of the quote’s context
Simply enter the title of your paper and your name at the top of the first page. There is no need to take up a lot of space with student ID numbers, course information, ect. – unless the intention is to take up space.
Be consistent in your tense – remember that if you are talking about events in the PAST, use the past tense
Use the active voice in your sentences rather than the passive voice
Avoid clichés in your text at all cost; especially avoid phrases such as, “Webster’s Dictionary defines honor as…”
Avoid sweeping generalizations – such as, “throughout the history of time/mankind/humanity” – Remember that you are writing about one specific case/work and are not really able to talk about society at large

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