Can someone please explain the significance of the El Dorado sequence and how it contrasts to the rest of the world in Candide?

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There is a recurring theme across world literature concerning utopias and perfect societies, and Voltaire's treatment of El Dorado certainly fits in with this theme. Throughout Candide, Voltaire depicts the cruelty and irrationality present throughout European society as he perceived it, a world he portrays as vicious and hypocritical. When Candide comes to El Dorado, however, he comes to a society that has escaped those evils, and is free of the greed and privilege pervading Europe.

At the same time, it is also important that Candide ultimately rejects El Dorado, taking treasure from this utopia back with him. In part, Candide leaves out of his desire to reunite with Cunégonde, but his decision also reflects the same greed and pretensions that have shaped European society as a whole. Thus, Candide states:

If we stay here, we'll be just like everybody else, whereas if we return to our world, even with only twelve sheep loaded with stones from Eldorado, we'll be richer than all the kings...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 832 words.)

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Last Updated by eNotes Editorial on February 20, 2020
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