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Which character represents Voltaire in Candide?

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mjlawler | (Level 1) eNoter

Posted August 29, 2013 at 9:00 PM via web

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Which character represents Voltaire in Candide?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

Posted August 29, 2013 at 10:25 PM (Answer #1)

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Critics feel that if any character is a model of its author, the Scholar, who plays a very minor role, acts as the voice of Voltaire.  In fact, this character is often overlooked when he appears in Chapter XXII, but sometimes the reader is struck by the change in the novel's tone when the scholar speaks.

In this chapter, Voltaire joins others in playing faro while he is Paris and loses money. There "a wise man of taste," who supports the hostess, the Marchioness of Parolignac, sitting by her and responding to the naive Candide's mistaking him for another Pangloss who studied cause and effect. After Candide asks him,

Sir, you think doubtless that all is for the best in the moral and physical world, and that nothing could be otherwise than it is?”

he replies,

“I know nothing of all that; I find that all goes awry with me; that no one knows either what is his rank, nor what is his condition, what he does nor what he ought to do; and that except supper, which is always gay, and where there appears to be enough concord, all the rest of the time is passed in impertinent quarrels; Jansenist against Molinist, Parliament against the Church, men of letters against men of letters, courtesans against courtesans, financiers against the people, wives against husbands, relatives against relatives—it is eternal war.”

Reflective of Voltaire's thoughts, the scholar expresses no concern for metaphysico-theologo-cosmonigology as does Pangloss, who is convinced that it is the best of possible worlds. Instead, he views a confused world, with constant turmoil and conflict among men. 

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