How does Candide compare and contrast with a more non-fictional account of slavery?

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accessteacher eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Quite clearly, we need to remember that this brilliant novel is above all a satire of so many different aspects of European society, and therefore it has a profoundly different purpose and aim than other non-fictional texts regarding slavery. This text is designed above all to show the profound limitations of the erroneous thinking of Enlightenment philosophers, who maintained, in the words of Pangloss that "everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds." The action of the novel and the experiences that Candide has to undergo clearly demonstrates that this is not the case at all, and his time of being a slave is just one of many such examples.

In non-fictional accounts of slavery, by contrast, there is no satirical aim. Instead, the majority of such accounts have a very serious and practical purpose of trying to present the horrors and reality of slavery in their fullest sense. Therefore there is no humorous, lighthearted, agenda in such accounts, as we find in Candide.

The answer to this question therefore forces us to consider purpose, audience and intention. Candide was written to counter a philosophy and intellectual approach of a particular time, in contrast with non-fiction accounts of slavery, that are mean to soberly instruct readers of the true horror of this barbaric institution.