In Candide, how does Voltaire show that greed is one of the main causes of evil in the world?

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mwestwood | College Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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in the middle of his novella Candide, Voltaire portrays the Americas as exploited by the clergy and aristocracy of Spain; however, in Chapter XVIII, when Candide and his valet Cacambo arrive in Eldorado, they learn that this wondrous land, surrounded by mountains, has remained hidden from the rapacity of the Europeans and is the "best of lands" with its contented people and all its tremendous resources: gold, silver, rubies, emeralds, and diamonds. 

One night they dine with the king, who is 172 years old, who advises the young men to stay where they are, "...when a man is fairly well off somewhere, he ought to stay there." But, he adds, "All men are free," so he has no control over their actions. "So the two fortunate men decided to be unfortunate" and they leave Eldorado, hoisted out by a machine created by scientists specifically for them that can lower them and their 102 sheep laden with jewels. 

However, after they leave the utopian world of Eldorado, Candide finds that his gold and jewels bring him little but misery because the swindlers, Vanderdendur and the Surinamese officers plot to relieve Candide of his fortune as quickly as they can. Thus, greed inspires evil acts against Candide. Earlier, the old king described to Candide and Cacambo how greedy some earlier visitors had been, as well as how the priests and aristocrats exploited even their own people. After Candide and Cacambo arrive in another land, the Dutch judge before whom Candide must appear fines him 10,000 piasters for various things such as noise, expenses of his hearing, and so on. "The wickedness of men appeared to him in all its ugliness" as Candide and Cacambo lose all but two of their sheep and much of their wealth.

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