Throughout the novel, Candide, Voltaire repeatedly exploits the nature of humans to consider other’s situations and lifestyles to be better than that of their own. Voltaire uses Candide’s journeys to portray the human assumption that the grass is always greener on the other side. This theme is shown in Candide’s strife for companionship, his experience with wealth, and his interaction with other characters. The situations that develop the theme do so in such a way that the reader is able to understand and relate to the aspirations of Candide.
The first element used to convey the fact that Candide looks at others situations sees what he would like to have is in his journey to find the ideal companion. Throughout his adventures, Candide comes upon many different men with many different companionship situations. For example, during Candide’s time with Count Pococurant, Voltaire indicates to the reader that Candide is impressed with the count’s two women. (118) The amazement and awe by Candide is answered with an explanation from Count Pococurant that shows that he is happy with them, but is becoming tired of their presence. 118) Voltaire strongly appeals to the reader with this scene because mankind places male/female companionship as a top priority of life. Psychologists have classified human companionship as one of the most essential sociological needs of mankind. This is confusing to Candide’s because Count Pococurant is unsatisfied with two girls that caught Candide’s attention with their beauty, their style, and their manner. (118) To add to the irony of this situation, Candide’s journey throughout the novel is a pursuant for a woman that he sees to be a good companion.
Count Pococurant has two women that are beautiful, stylish, and well mannered. The bottom line is that both Candide and Count Pococurant are both envious of each other’s situation. Candide wants female companionship and Count Pococurant want to be free from his female companions. This just shows that the two men see other’s situations to be better than that of their own. Another scheme Voltaire used to develop this theme deployed the use of wealth to show how Candide thinks the grass is greener on the other side.
Throughout the novel the financial situation of Candide fluctuates dramatically. In the beginning of the novel, Candide does not have an abundance of property. (22) Because Candide had no food or money to buy food, he sees those that do to be better off than he is. Candide’s visit to Eldorado allows him to leave with a very large fortune and sheep to carry on his journey. (84) Candide is ablsolutely amazed with the amount of jewels and gold in Eldorado and thinks that the money is his answer to happiness and the key to his finding Cunegonde.
After all, money was seen as power and freedom during that era of history. Candide soon finds out that the money he dreamed of having is not the answer to life’s problems. This is apparent when the Dutch captain steals his quick fortune. (88) Now that Candide has experienced and lost fortune, he sees Eldorado to be the perfect place because money means nothing to the people there. This is shown when Candide compares the rude treatment of people in France to the kind treatment that they received in Eldorado. 108) This commentary from Candide shows the realization that his views on the relationship between money and happiness have changed drastically. Voltaire also conveys the theme through Candide’s brief interactions with supporting characters. One example that portrays that mankind sees what they do not have to be better than what they have is in Candide’s time with Count Pococurante. Count Pococurante has many books that Candide appreciates. (120) Candide assumes that the Count really likes reading Homer. Upon complementing the Count’s collection, the Count replies with, “It doesn’t delight me.
There was a time when people convinced me that I enjoyed reading Homer; but that external succession of identical combats, those gods who are always so busy to no effect, that Helen of his who gives rise to the war yet plays so little part in the story, that Troy so endlessly besieged without being taken-it bores me to distraction! ” (120) This statement shows the reader that Candide’s admiration for the books was not shared by the owner of the collection. This simply shows again that what we dont have or cannot do always looks better than what we have or can do.
By analyzing Candide’s motives and reactions, the reader can see that Voltaire repeatedly exploits the nature of humans to consider other’s situations and lifestyles to be better than that of their own. This commonly expressed theme is obvious in Candide’s strife for companionship, his experiences with wealth, and assumptions about characters. These situations that develop the theme allow the reader to know the wants of Candide and see how he learns that mankind thinks that different situations and statuses are more suited