The eighteenth century novel written by Voltaire, Candide, was one of the greatest works of arguably the most important philosopher during the Enlightenment. Using Candide for the purpose of illustration, Voltaire was able to criticize the beliefs and established views of his time without directly opposing them. He uses the characters and plot to satirize these views and also relay his own beliefs at the same time. .
The Enlightenment and enlightened thought is often associated with eighteenth .
century France because France is where the movement began and many of the leaders resided. The enlightened way of thinking became a revolutionary force against the .
Church and its tyrannical control of people's thoughts. The Enlightenment is often described as a balanced combination of both rationalism and empiricism. In this movement, knowledge was believed to be, for the first time, gained through research/observation and by using reason as the basis for thought. In Candide, Voltaire uses the main character of Candide to portray this new idea by having him born and raised in a class oriented, monarchial society and eventually travel throughout the world escaping his former society to make observations using reason to shape his new life which makes him significantly more content. Even the name "Candide", which is similar to the word "candid" meaning sincere, to suggest that the character says what he really feels no matter what the accepted beliefs happen to be. "You could read his character in his face. He combined sound judgment with affected simplicity." (Voltaire, 19) .
Candide spends much of the story in search of the Lady Cunegonde, who as the .
daughter of a Baron. In this context she represents the nobility of the world and Candide's search for Lady Cunegonde is his search for the happiness of his childhood (in the the monarchial society of France). However, when "Candide does find Cunegonde, she is no longer the beautiful women he pictured; but an unattractive representation of what his life could have been.