What is the concept of freedom in Candide and what effect does this freedom have on the lesson of the story?

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The strongest example of freedom as a concept in Candide is the title character’s own freedom after he is thrown out of the castle. This event takes place at the beginning of the story and sets the stage for all subsequent action in the book. Freedom implies having choices. Candide...

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The strongest example of freedom as a concept in Candide is the title character’s own freedom after he is thrown out of the castle. This event takes place at the beginning of the story and sets the stage for all subsequent action in the book. Freedom implies having choices. Candide chooses to act on his feelings for Cunégonde by kissing her, and that choice leads to his removal from the castle. Freedom and choice have consequences, in Candide’s case resulting in a loss of security as well as comfort by leaving the castle.

After he is thrown out of the castle, Candide is out on his own, with no responsibilities as a tutor to the baron or to anyone around him. He is free from obligations to others. Yet for most of Candide’s life, these relationships and obligations have defined him, so he is unsure what to do or where to go once he loses them. Candide wasn’t actually seeking this freedom, and it results in a loss of identity and certainty for Candide. Describe Candide’s own reaction to his newfound freedom: does he seem happy or scared? What are his own words about this freedom?

Candide’s freedom in the world outside of the castle also leads to the series of life-threatening as well as mind-opening experiences for him that compose the rest of the book. For example, upon his exit from the caste, Candide is almost immediately captured, tortured, and pressed into military service. His freedom is ironically short-lived and there are, of course, several other examples of Candide getting captured/tortured in the outside world. Yet Candide learns from these experiences. The world is a big and scary place, much more complex than the castle, and Candide learns about it through actual experience. Candide also gets to meet people like Martin, who make him think about the world (even if he doesn’t necessarily agree with Martin). When Candide reunites with Pangloss and Cunégonde, they have gone through their own traumatic experiences. How does their experience with freedom beyond the castle compare with that of Candide?

You can select specific events that either physically harmed Candide or taught him something, and in some cases did both at the same time. Again, be sure to take examples from the text and how the characters react, in order to strengthen your example. The point is that freedom complicates Candide’s life, puts him in danger, but also helps him grow as a person.

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