Friday, December 7, 2012

The Grass Is Always Greener

Ben made a point in class today that got me thinking. He said that Voltaire basically made all of his points before he made it to Eldorado and he could have ended the novel there. I don't know about y'all, but I was actually angry when they decided to leave Eldorado. They had it made in the land of dreams, it may not have been what they wanted at the time being, but they should have thought "Wow, the world outside of Eldorado is really quite awful, we have had no luck in our lives up to this point so we might as well just stay here and be happy." But instead they go and blow it all away to bring these sheep so they would be richest people in the world (outside of Eldorado.) and why? Just so they could impress everyone else with how rich they were and marry a woman who Candide ends up not really wanting to marry anyway. They wanted to be leaders of the world, but instead it chewed them up, stole their money, killed their friends, swindled them, and spit them out onto a farm. It was the moment they left Eldorado that I stopped liking the novella, I still enjoyed reading it, but it made me angry that they threw away the perfect life and they don't even act like it was a bad idea.

6 comments:

Madeline Davis said...

Ehh, I'm kind of glad they left Eldorado. I think I would've been frustrated with the story had they stayed. They found the "perfect" world that was so different from their own society and it just seemed too good to be true. I think Candide's choice to leave Eldorado speaks volumes on his simplemindedness (I feel like that word should have a dash in it somewhere...?) and stubbornness. Candide has an ideal society right in front of him, yet he consciously decides to return to his imperfect world. Although Eldorado was, in general, a perfect society, everyone there was equal. Candide felt that he would be happier in his corrupt, imperfect society because he would be towards the top of the food chain and enjoy the luxuries and benefits of the upper class that he wouldn't receive in Eldorado. I think Voltaire is commenting on humanity's tendency to gravitate towards corruption and personal gain, rather than the values they consider "equal" and "ideal".

TSHAH said...

I agree with this statement 100%, but I think the reason Voltaire made the plot expand beyond Eldorado was to show how human nature is never capable of being satisfied due to the corrupted nature of the material world, and also to conclude his piece to explain that given all of these temptations, and corruptive factors, the only way to life you life is by each individual "tending to their own garden". Voltaire presented an ideal society through Eldorado, but he continued his plot to provide a solution to the current world that we live in, along with how we may move towards the ideal society the Eldorado presents.

wkuehne said...

This conversation really stems from one we had at the beginning of the year. If you could plug into a machine and feel happy for your whole life, would you? I think El Dorado is like the machine: one is putting themselves into a state of bliss by staying in El Dorado. But the real world offers so much more for Candide: a meaningful but simple life, love, and a sort of relaxed contentment. I think that Voltaire could be making a larger point in his plot than simply trying to make Candide go further on his journey.

Lindsay A said...

I thought the desire to leave Eldorado was a given. It would be extremely difficult for someone who lived outside of Eldorado and was raised in a hierarchical society would not be able to stand the Everyone-Is-The-Same philosophy of Eldorado. Candide has it embedded in his mindset that people should be better than one another - as perfect as Eldorado was, he could not stay there.

Ben Bonner said...

From a literary standpoint, the story absolutely could have ended there. I think it's interesting that Voltaire wrote that they left because they didn't want merely to be wealthy but to also be respected and admired by others for their wealth. I think we see this type of human behavior again in the Venetian noble. The noble collects art and literature not because they give him any direct pleasure or satisfaction but because those are the things society expects him to appreciate. Voltaire is pointing out human vanity and irrationality in both of these instances.

Grant Reggio said...

It's almost as if the situation has become a "you can take the European out of Imperialistic European society, but you can't take the Imperialistic European society out of the European," or something like that. In a sense, one could interpret their departure to a result of a habitual inclination for gain. In other words, they left such a wonderful world where everyone is equal, taking with them the benefits of that perfect world, only in order to gain an advantage in an imperfect world. If this idea was intended or slightly suggested by Voltaire, I think the message he's trying to make is that European society is corrupt also in the fact that people are naturally competitive and such competitiveness turns into a rapacious drive to basically one-up your neighbors. The reason? Perhaps a subconscious comfort of knowing you're better off than everyone else, or maybe even just an insensitive desire for such a pure goal as success. Apparently that goal has been bastardized according to Voltaire, that is if he intended to imply something as far out as this. It's a stretch, but hey it's an idea.