Date of this Version
Senior Capstone Project Poster, Nebraska College Preparatory Academy/Grand Island Senior High School 2017. University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Candide by Voltaire promotes social reform in areas dealing with injustice and corrupt power–especially in religious organizations. One biographical book, one master of arts thesis, and two literary criticism essays were read to further expand the reader’s understanding of Candide. The impact religious organizations had on Voltaire and on European societies, their insincerity, and the abuse of their power sparked a fervent desire in Voltaire to criticize such institutions in order to reinvigorate the rights and freedoms of citizens and eliminate the abuses that societies continued to bear. The last phrase in the novel reflects Voltaire’s call to speak out against societies’ flaws instead of conforming to an unbearable life.
Candide’s transformation of an overly exaggerated conformist character to one who becomes awakened is seen with the last phrase said by him in the novel: “we must cultivate our own garden.” The resolution ends in a provoking manner, shouting to the reader to start facing life through hard work in order to liberate themselves from the control of powerful human evils. The injustice and corrupt power of religious organizations enraged Voltaire, but what enraged him more was that the majority of citizens were not striving for improvements in societies. Overall, Voltaire strongly believed one’s life should not be manipulated by others; he believed one should work hard for what one believes and for who one is–in other words, avoid being trapped in a state of conformity. This for Voltaire meant cultivating our garden. In the future, I hope to research modern day writers who also advocate for justice and freedom.