Arthur Johnson Western Letters – Professor Fayard Response Essay 2 10/29/12 Arthur Johnson Western Letters – Fayard 10/29/12 Response Essay #2 Francois-Marie Arouet De Voltaire shows in many instances in….
Candide in El Dorado
The Meaning of El Dorado and its contrast with the rest of the world: El Dorado appears to be the perfect utopia, for others it represents an unrealistic place to live. For Voltaire this world meant his entire desire and dream about the perfect society. Many critics note that El Dorado is only a huge extravaganza because it consisted of contradictory statements. The meaning of El Dorado is a vision of the perfect society and represents a false paradise impossible to attain or approach by the destructive human nature.
El Dorado contrasts with the rest of the world because at the time Candide was written by Voltaire He lived in one important periods of the humanity, “The enlightenment”. Around him, he saw many injustices perpetrated by the principle institutions that lead the society at that time. The own desire of Candide to leave El Dorado was imposed by something that he knew; In El Dorado, everybody seems to be equal and a fortune in El Dorado means nothing compare to a fortune in the world where they came from.
Furthermore, he needed to recover Miss Cunegonde. The superiority and the economic power that he will gain with the fortune from El Dorado will help him to get her back. Some aspects of El Dorado appear very attractive. The deistic religion that the old man describes, the obvious economic supremacy, the egalitarian practices of the king and the absence of public encounters seem to be the perfect society to emulate. El Dorado is the perfect society for Voltaire but the real thrust is that a perfect society like El Dorado is really hard to attain.
The excessive exaggeration that Voltaire expresses in Candide makes some critics to think. Why if Candide always looked for the perfect world describes by his mentor Pangloss him and his servant didn’t remain in El Dorado. The answer described for many is that the Perfect Utopia lack of the reality. Shanley and Stillman point out that Voltaire makes constant use of exaggeration to suggest the excess of El Dorado: Building reach to clouds. The portal of the king’s palace is 220 feet high and 100 feet wide.
Food served at the inn includes a 200-pound condor, 300 colibri hummingbirds on one platter and 600 hummingbirds on another. Such exaggerated sizes appear ludicrous; they also contrast sharply with Voltaire’s initial statement that the country is cultivated for pleasure as well as for need and that “everywhere the useful is attractive. ” As we can see the exaggeration by Voltaire has no limit and in a real world probably cannot exist with such excess. The visions of El Dorado of a perfect society contrast because there are extreme inequalities.
For instance, Candide and Cacambo talk to the old man, and this give them a carriage with twelve servants that indicate an exaggeration and also indicate the different social inequalities, if everybody is equal why does a man has many servant. On the other hand, the destructive human nature would never coexist in a perfect world such as El Dorado. All life beings in the nature lacks of common sense. This is evident in the nature of animals. They fight for their territory and tries to be superior in any aspect of its life.
Moreover, Shanley and Stillman believe that El Dorado contains many serious defects. These defects are marked by an irrelevant economic and social inequality, material extravaganza, and stunted human emotional and intellectual capabilities. They also state it is neither a completely good society nor one that human beings can recreate elsewhere. Subsequently, El Dorado seems to be the perfect place to live despite the critics for many authors. However, El Dorado is a very straight critic to the society in which Voltaire lived.
The real society in which Voltaire lived is composed for many institutions that he attacks in various opportunities such as the church and the monarchy. For example, when Candide arrived to El Dorado and he sees that all the people believe in the same thing and there’s not a priest, no hierarchy, and all the people are equal. That’s a good strike from Voltaire to the church claiming that everybody must be equal. According with Dalnekoff, “El Dorado is a foil to the societies through which Candide has passed and will pass where the inquisition imposes a reign of terror, and poverty, corruption and oppression are everywhere to be found. (Utopia and Satire)In contrast of El Dorado with the contemporary system, we found that in the contemporary system much oppression and abuses have been committed and in El Dorado the inhabitants are very virtuous; they were a society with absence of many institutions. A very questionable point in Candide and his extraordinary optimism is why if he believes that everything obeys a divine pattern and all is for the best, why didn’t he remain in El Dorado?. Dalknekoff states that the motives given by Candide for departing are hardly worthy of commendation.
His desire to be richer than all those around him is certainly deplorable. (‘Impossible dream) As Dalknekoff said, motives that move all human beings are money and the desire for superiority. Moreover, Shanley and Stillman endorse Candide; who States “If we stay here, we shall only be like others”. If they leave, they can be powerful and wealthy. They can boast of their travels, and Candide can recover Cunegonde. In accordance with the authors above Candide’s motives to leave El Dorado are typical human motives.
Now beside the fact that all human beings are always seeking fortune and good position of high status, we found another important element: the love for his dear Cunegonde. The love factor is a prominent aspect that can force a human to leave a perfect society like El Dorado. El Dorado seems to be the perfect place with an extremely beauty in all aspect. Candide had an extremely urge to leave this exotic paradise because he wants to reunite with his love Miss cunengonde who was about to get married with another man.
All the riches of El Dorado it wasn’t enough to attach Candide to El Dorado. On the other hand, Dalkenoff claims to stay in El Dorado would mean to escape from the evils of the real world rather than to face and deal with them. It is not in man’s imperfect nature to find happiness in such a perfect society; the best of all possible worlds is not being suites to man as he is. (Utopia and Satire) In accordance with Dalkenoff the human nature is moved by the everyday challenges and such perfection doesn’t look to be very attractive for Candide.
After stayed thirty days in El Dorado Candide wants to return as soon possible to the extremely defective world outside. The Eldorado stones will only be of value to him in the defective world, where the people were stingy and greedy and they were measured by what they had. The Stones and beauty of El Dorado oblige to encourage avarice and ambition in Candide, whose only previous idea was survive and his love for Miss Cunegonde Voltaire had an idea about the perfect society and he wanted transmit the idea to the principles institutions of his time.
At the time Candide was written in 1759 Europe was in the middle of the Enlightenment period: According to Bristow The Enlightenment is the period in the history of western thought and culture, stretching roughly from the mid-decades of the seventeenth century through the eighteenth century, characterized by dramatic revolutions in science, philosophy, society and politics; these revolutions swept away the medieval world-view and ushered in our modern western world. (Bristow, par. 1)