I plan to do my final paper on the novel Candide written by Voltaire. I chose to do this because I have always wanted the opportunity to re-read the novel. I also really enjoy the many themes of the story and the symbolism of the garden.
My paper will be based around one of the books motifs, “All is for the best… in the best of all worlds”. My goal would be to examine what is the best of all possible worlds. To do this I will have to define what the best of all possible worlds is and in addition consider opposing viewpoints. I hope to also tie this into the overall theme of alienation, and argue that it is better to have company so that one does not feel alienated from the rest of society. I plan to structure my paper in parallel to the traveling Candide does within the novel and incorporate the lesson learned at each place of visit.
Other aspects that I wish to explore include philosophical optimism which was popular at the time of the book’s writing of the Enlightenment period as well as other actual historical accounts Voltaire refers to. An important theme throughout the novel is anti-religion which I believe also needs to be addressed in my paper. I would like to end my paper with Voltaire’s garden and the symbolism behind it offering some kind of solution that involves happiness and simplicity.
1.How does one know once they have reached the goal of being in the best of all possible worlds?
2. How does companionship affect life satisfaction?
3.How do the ideas of the time such as philosophical optimism and anti-religion affect the context of the novel?
One thing I am not sure is if I am planning to cover too many topics and perhaps a narrower and more direct approach would be better? Any advice would be appreciated!
What has drawn me to write my final paper on A Small Place and An Enemy of the People is that the message of these books can have profound real-world consequences if interpreted correctly and taken seriously. Granted, most of the books we have read make some important statement about the nature of humanity, but these books, I feel, apply the most to our present society and problems in our country. With correct interpretation, these novels can lend some insight on how to re-interpret and analyze global politics. The part most useful to me in An Enemy of the People is when Dr. Thomas Stockman is ostracized by his community because his ideas are at odds with capitalist notions. Many parts of A Small Place will be helpful for my paper, especially when Kincaid speaks of how England, as a byproduct of their capitalism, left behind a disfranchised people. My paper will argue how these two books prove that capitalism, simply by selecting a group to be included, must always exclude some, and how it is in the nature of this system to sometimes take advantage of these disfranchised groups. My paper will also look at how these books may be used to reinterpret capitalism and how we may use these books to provide social and political insight into many of the global problems of today. Things that I would like to explore further are:
- What exactly is the colonial history of Antigua? How does their past involvement in Britain’s capitalist system influence their political and economic success today?
- What are some issues today that represent a trade-off between economic success and morality such as the issue of the baths in An Enemy of the People? How do these issues tend to be decided?
- How do capitalist systems create disenfranchised groups in the novels and in real life?