Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Going to the end of the world for her (body).

Voltaire’s Candide is an epic adventure similar to many fairy tales involving a couples’ infinite love. I’m not going to lie; stories like this (Romeo and Juliet, Disney Princess movies, etc.) normally frustrate me since they often begin with a man and a woman making eyes, and all the sudden in the pair falling deeply in love and being unable to live without the other. Candide is not much different, who shares one kiss with Cunegonde and wishes to be with her for the rest of his life. He is devastated when she is killed by Bulgars, but luckily Voltaire was just playing with our emotions and Cunegonde is actually alive and is just being shared by two men.

Like many other fantasy stories, Candide and Cunegonde’s feelings for one another is based on lust, not love. Voltaire exploits this idea by sending Candide on an epic trek across countries to find and save Cunegonde from slavery. His ridiculous journey consists of Candide gaining partners who die in ridiculous ways, spending millions of dollars, and even living in the most beautiful and pleasant place on earth. Of course this perfect foreign land means nothing without the beautiful Cunegonde there and Candide must leave to find her.

This exaggerated version of a fairy tale and infinite love illustrates the power of lust and misunderstanding of what love actually is. This idea comes to a screeching halt at the end of the story when Candide finds Cunegonde and realizes that after years of slavery and trade she has become ugly, loosing her only important trait and the only reason Candide loved her. Good thing all those lives and millions of dollars went to something worthwhile! Don’t worry, Candide still marries her just to make her brother angry. So if looks isn’t a worthy reason to marry someone, spite definitely is.

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