UNIT 1: Activities for Candide

Dr. Diane Thompson, NVCC, ELI

Select the Activity question you wish to respond to. Make a copy of the question to begin your Activity. Post your response to the Blackboard Activity 2: Candide Forum.  I will comment on your Activity on the Forum, and send your grade to you privately, by email.

Do you think this is "the best of all possible worlds? Why or why not? Explain in some detail, and support your ideas by using a number of specific examples from Candide as well as from your own experience.
Look at the different kinds of gardens in Candide, starting with Candide's original happy home in Germany, moving to the New World (Eldorado), and then to the little group's final garden.  What is the point of these gardens? What is the role of work in each one? Is there anything better in life than a good garden?
Examine The Age of Enlightenment and The Enlightenment: by Paul Brians. After looking through this material, discuss the Enlightenment and the role of the Philosophes. Who were they? Where and when were they active? What kind of activities did they engage in? What were they "enlightened" about? Can you find positive (or negative) examples of "enlightened" thinking in Candide? Give solid examples to support your main points.
Do a WWW search, or use an encyclopedia to look up the eighteenth century idea of "optimism." Read briefly about the "great chain of being" and the concept of "plenitude," which are closely related to this optimism. Explain these concepts briefly and then discuss why you think Voltaire hated this "optimism" Be specific and use examples from Candide to support your main ideas.
Do a WWW search or use a book to look up and explain the concept of Deism in the eighteenth century--what it is and how and where it operates in Candide. Is God anywhere to be found in the story? If so, where and how? Use specific examples to support your main ideas.
Discuss ideas about politics and revolution in Candide. Was Candide a political person? Was he an activist? Can you imagine Candide involved in a revolution?  Remember that a few years after this story was written (1759), the American Revolution (1776) started a whole series of revolutions, which continued into the next century and beyond.
Discuss the role of slavery in Candide. What was the status of slavery in 1759 (in Europe as well as in America)?  Explain why you think Candide behaved as he did in relation to the suffering slave. Be specific and use examples to support your ideas.
Do a WWW search or use a book to look up the myth/concept of Eldorado. What was it, where was it, and what was the point? Now, look closely at Eldorado in Candide. Is it a model of possible human happiness? How does Eldorado affect the characters in the story? Why do they leave this happy  place? Be detailed and use specific examples to support your main points.
Discuss the style of Candide and how it adds to the force and wit of the story. Does this style help to distance us from the characters? Does this style help us to read about terrible things and yet keep our minds on the ideas, not the gore? Give some specific examples of the style as you see it, and explain how it works on us as readers.
Find a definition of satire that you like, quote it, and then discuss how Candide fits the definition of a satire. Is the satire in Candide revolutionary, or is it criticizing the world as it is and will always be? Be thorough and specific and use examples from the text to support your main points.
Discuss the use of reason in Candide and Tartuffe. Is the "reason" the same or different in these two texts? Which characters are reasonable?  Are they the same as the people who use pure reason (logic)? According to these two satires, just how much use is reason, anyway?
Double Credit: First, read the selection from Monkey in the textbook (Volume D, 8-70) or acquire a copy of the Whaley translation of Monkey (it is the one volume version of the story and you should be able to get an inexpensive paperback copy pretty easily online). Monkey  is a marvelous Chinese novel about a monk, Tripitaka and three strange creatures, Monkey, Pigsy and Sandy (a  dragon), who travel from China to India to acquire sacred Buddhist scriptures. Now, think of some interesting way to compare this odd group's journey to the journey of Candide and his little group. You will, of course, support your ideas with plenty of examples from both stories. Write it up, making it substantial enough for double credit and if you do a good job, this can be worth up to 100 points.


(c)  Thompson: 8/1/1998; updated: 04/04/2012