Candide Allusion Activity

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Excerpt From This Document

This worksheet gives students an opportunity to practice identifying and analyzing allusions. Allusions broaden the scope of a text and imbue passages with deeper meaning by subtly drawing on unexplained references to literature, history, science, geography, philosophy, mythology, or other aspects of a culture. Allusions are thus a powerful tool often employed by writers and are well worth understanding. In completing this worksheet, students will be able to identify, analyze, and interpret allusions, thereby accessing deeper meanings within the text.

The 1759 novella Candide is the French philosopher Voltaire’s most enduring work of fiction. It tells the coming-of-age story of Candide, a hapless, naïve young man who lives in the castle of his aristocratic uncle. When Candide is banished from the court for his inappropriate dalliances with his cousin, he must face the hardships of the real world. In his depiction of Candide’s development, Voltaire alludes to a number of classic Western works, including the stories of the Bible and the philosophies of German philosopher Gottfried Leibniz. As Candide develops wisdom and humility, he comes to question Leibniz’s idealistic assertion that we live in “the best of all possible worlds.”

Skills: analysis, close reading, drawing inferences from text, interpreting implications of allusions

Learning Objectives:
In completing this activity, students will

  • identify different types of allusions and locate examples of allusion within a text;
  • analyze examples of allusions to determine their purpose in the context of a passage of text;
  • analyze examples of allusions to interpret their meaning and determine how they inform a passage of text.

About this Document

Our eNotes Classroom Activities give students opportunities to practice developing a variety of skills. Whether analyzing literary devices or interpreting connotative language, students will work directly with the text. The main components of our classroom activities include the following:

  • A handout defining the literary elements under discussion, complete with examples
  • A step-by-step guide to activity procedure
  • An answer key or selected examples for reference, depending on the activity

In completing these classroom activities, students will be able to classify and analyze different literary elements, thereby developing close-reading skills and drawing deeper inferences from the text.