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WORLD LITERATURE - Essay Example

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Yasmeen Kawook 15th December, 2009 Compare and contrast the character of Candide with one of the heroes from an earlier period i.e.: Gilgamesh, Odyssey, Beowulf, and Sir Gawain. You might focus on heroic qualities, or the heros quest according to Joseph Campbell, or any other aspect defining feature of the hero.
Across the decades of time, and the ongoing changes that constantly occur in the world, whether good and or bad, but change is essential to take place in order to introduce new ideas, and implement them correctly. As much as the world is evolving within a blink of an eye in terms of various aspects of life; yet it is through literature that we learn the main pillars of life – situations, examples, and lessons learnt and taught by the characters and heroes of various epics in literature. They take us through the course of and pessimism of oneself, war, rage, anger, rebelliousness, power, wealth, slavery, death, stolen human rights, greed, hatred to the extreme ends of romance, wild imaginations of seduction and erotic wishes between loved ones, and how they conquer all possible; yet unpredictable boundaries that would arise along the way in order to always protect, save, and live with one another no matter how impossible it might have been for them to unite and re-unite, but they were the heroic characters who taught us what love, devotion, loyalty, and sacrifice without thinking twice was truly all about – basically being the original edition. How the love grew much more between them during their hardest moments; when it would have been considered acceptable to some extent to fall apart and give up due to their difficult situations that obliged them to live apart from one another whether it was because of social class differences, religion, family standards, war, etc. It is through literature where we learn to expect the unpredictable whether good or bad. After all, nothing in life could ever be perfect even in literature; there were ups and downs of hardship that they experienced along their journeys, yet their lives; in terms of the stories and epics of their time that we still read, learn, and further enlighten our knowledge with until today are always going to be kept under a special umbrella of everything being creatively, beautifully portrayed and depicted.
In my literature research paper, I will introduce, explain, and elaborate on various personalities, and situations, and how the characters and heroes acted and reacted in different incidents, and furthermore; I will; discuss differences and similarities throughout my research paper. I will clearly discuss in terms of comparing and contrasting between Candide by Voltaire, and Gilgamesh in terms of situations, incidents, events, etc, (taken from internet sources I have collected) and which of course will clearly be mentioned in the paper. Furthermore, I will include how they were different, yet shared various similarities.
Voltaires Candide had a mind that could be clearly read through his face as well as being smart yet by nature followed the steps of simplicity. According to my internet source number 1, "Voltaire uses anti-heroism as an object of mockery against the philosophers of the enlightment". During that age they believed that reason could explain everything. Voltaire was against such optimism. As a boy, Candide lived in one of the finest castles that was owned by the Baron – who was the most powerful noblemen is Westphalia, and who had a beautiful, young seventeen year old daughter known as Cunegonde. Candide infinitely was in love with his mistress Cunegonde, yet didn’t have the courage to declare his feelings to her. Furthermore, based on the book – Candide by Voltaire, he would speak to himself silently saying how delighted he was to have the chance to be born in her fathers castle, and that gave him the chance to see her all the time, and how he enjoyed the fact that she was his mistress, and last but not least that he was privileged to be taught by the finest tutor in time – known as Dr. Pangloss – the great philosopher he was who stated that everything happens for the best and things cannot be other than what they already are and that is exactly how Candide took and followed his footsteps. According to Voltaire, extreme and true happiness and feelings of being content to no limit "could only be achieved in an unrealistic world". Candide has suffered and went through a lot of hardships and has truly endured a lot from "losing four of his sheep laden with priceless jewels due to natural causes, and two of the remaining ones were also stolen". Candide says to his tutor – Dr. Pangloss, "Oh Pangloss (crying), you have no notion of these abominations. Im through; I must give up your optimism afterall". Candide stated that "optimism is when things go well when one is in hell". Candides description of life was in contrast with whatever he has from challenges, experiences, and sufferings that he endured throughout the book by Voltaire. Moreover, Voltaire proves and states the unrealistic views of optimism.
According to my internet source 1, Candide, combines for us the sad situations; merged with comical jokes that were interesting to M. de Voltaire. Voltaire was against the people of optimism; yet he had no proposed solutions to prove various problems to be eliminated. He further stated that "we must cultivate our gardens; it is the only way of rendering life bearable". He further elaborated that since "happiness is hard to find, and hard work is the only way where one could live in contentment".
According to my internet source number 2, Candide has passed through a long journey for love, and during this journey there were lots of hardships that occurred; yet he always had a strong and optimistic outlook on life in general, and this is what kept him going on and enduring all the obstacles that came across him. Candide was deeply in love with Cunegonde – the princess of a Baron, and his love for her led him to unfortunately get kicked out of the castle as they were seen kissing each other, and fortunately enough from that time onwards he worked hard and did everything in his power to see her again and reunite with his love no matter what happened after that from unpredictable incidents and obstacles that would tackle his future success with his lover. In order to reunite with Cunegonde once again he had to travel miles away to find ultimate solutions to be with her and continue their life together and never live apart from one another again. He suffered a lot whether from being kicked out of the castle, not being able to see the princess as he was always used to, being forced to join the army, suffering from poverty especially after living his whole life in one of the finest castles, and among the rich. According to the books and internet sources I have used, I could clearly say that Candide was able to conquer and walk through the problems in his life; even though there were many ups and downs, but what was more important was his constant belief and faith that he will able to accomplish what he had planned for, and all the times of pain, hardship will soon be over. Furthermore, his determination for continuity until the very end is what gave him an extra drive and motivation to achieve and accomplish what he has always dreamt about. According to my internet source number 3, t was stated that as much as Candide might have been a little naive and innocent and was known for his simple personality, but he sure was a strong man who crossed boundaries, and conquered hardships no matter how hard they seemed; yet never gave up on what he truly wanted, and believed in.
According to the novel Candide by Voltaire, one of the various incidents was as follows: "On her way back (Cunegonde), she met Candide, she blushed, and greeted him in a faltering voice. Candide blushed too, and spoke without knowing what he said. Next day, as they were leaving the table after dinner, Cunegonde and Candide found themselves behind a screen. Cunegonde dropped her handkerchief, and Candide picked it up. She artlessly seized his hand, and the youth artlessly kissed her – with remarkable warmth, intensity and grace. Their lips met, their eyes sparkled, their knees trembled, and their hands strayed". This passage shows us how romantically and passionately they were in love with one another, and during those beautiful moments they didn’t think or care who would see them, and whether they got into trouble – they didn’t give it much importance. This passionate scene led them to various problems thereafter which led Candide to get kicked out of the castle, and Cunegonde was slapped by the Baroness. Their faith in her love allowed them to conquer everything, and Candide being the strong willed man he was further encouraged Cunegonde to fight for their love and continue their journey until the very end despite all the negative factors they went through.
According to the novel Candide & Other Stories by Voltaire; I will share with you another incident that was a great interest to me and it is as follows: "how an old woman took care of Candide and how he was reunited with Cunegonde. This incident occurred immediately after Candide was brutally beaten by the bulgars. This old woman prepared a small place for him to sleep and rest in; she prepared all his meals, and would also help him by placing the needed ointments on his injuries in order to feel better. As Candide had remained shocked at how much he had suffered and endured, but moreover how caring and supportive the old woman was with him, and how carefully took care of him.
According to same novel as above, Candide asked her "Who are you? What has made you so kind? How can I repay you?" The old woman had no answer. Her following visit to Candide, she told him "Come with me, and not a word". They walked arm-in-arm together heading towards the country, and Candide didn’t understand what the story was all about. They entered into a home, she then led him up through a "secret staircase" and then into a room where she left him waiting there on a couch. In that particular moment, "Candide thought he was in a dream, and how his whole life had been a bad one, and the present moment a sweet one". The old woman re-entered with a "Trembling figure of a majestic, looking woman – all sparkling with jewels and covered with a veil". "Remove the veil, the old woman told Candide. The man drew near with a timid hand he lifted the veil. What a moment! What a surprise! He thought he was looking as Miss Cunegonde. He was indeed looking at her, for it was she. His strength failed him, words failed him, and he fell at her feet, and she on the couch. The old woman showered them with waters as they would quickly come back to their senses. They spoke to one another". At the beginning, everything was unclear, uncertain, unfinished as they were not conscious to that particular moment actually being reality. They sighed, cried, and got their words, and feelings mixed up with one another, as they had endless feelings and suppressed emotions for one another; yet as soon as they saw each other; they forgot everything except enjoying their moment in front of each other without any boundaries and fear of being apart the same way they had been previously. Candide didn’t believe himself as he had the chance to see Cunegonde again especially after everything that had happened with her from the death of her parents, and her being raped. Even the time when he saw her that moment, he still didn’t believe she was fine. His care, support, love, and worry for her were limitless.
Now, I will begin to introduce, discuss, and further elaborate Gilgameshs personality, what he experienced in his life; whether happy or sad, and various incidents that I will later talk about based on the internet sources that I have collected to complete my writings on Gilgamesh.
Gilgameshs story combines a lot of positives, negatives, and further on transitions, improvements, etc. The story discussed issues, and incidents of life and death, adding to those realization according to my internet source number 1, and these are the issues that made the story of Gilgamesh interesting and intriguing to many readers until today. Gilgamesh was the king of Uruk, and he was known for his extra energy, and was always on the go with events, goals to accomplish, and never allowed anyone to follow a different path other than what he had planned. This clearly states to us how well he carried himself in front of his people even though he might have suffered from contradictions within himself. He was a strong, arrogant man with no boundaries as to what he could or couldn’t do in terms of right and wrong. He would not leave a son with his father; used to take all children from their families, and even he wouldn’t keep any virgin with her lover. He was supposed to be the hero and the supporter of his people; yet he was always their king who obliged and gave orders all the time whether they agreed or not – they had to obey. All what Gilgamesh used to do from actions; would be first to please himself, and his needs and what suited him best, and then anything else would follow. He was known to be a very difficult man to deal with, and a hard king to bare, and his people rejected him as he was always a strong fighter, and a depressed man. According to my internet source number 1b, it is through these various incidents that I will mention, that we will clearly realize how Gilgamesh was vicious, brutal, ruthless, harsh, and hard-headed; yet eventually shifted to have opposite qualities like being a satisfied man, calmer within himself, and how his views towards life have been changed to the better.
According to the internet source number 2, the story had a barmaid named Siduri who told him "You will never find that life for which you are looking". He was partly a God, and partly a human according to my sources, and Siduri further gave him a human being advice which was as follows: "As for you Gilgamesh, fill your belly with good things, day and night, night and day, dance and be merry, feast and rejoice. Let your clothes be fresh, bathe yourself in water, cherish the little child that holds your hand, and make your wife happy in your embrace, for this too is the lot of a man". In my opinion, the explanation to this passage showed that Siduri wanted to give him a message and clearly show him what good he can have within his hands from being happy with his family, wife, and a child. She showed him the path in order to help him work on altering himself to becoming a better human being. Gilgamesh was a God, and a human; yet it was essential for him to die. This further proves to us that even the ruler, the king of the people who supports them must die at the end of the story – states that there is an end to everything, and that nothing lasts forever and moreover that there is no running away from death.
According to my internet source number 4 and specifically from the twelve tablets of Gilgamesh story; the Gods assign the Goddess to create a man; who was then named Enkidu; and who will eventually become Gilgameshs twin. Enkidu came from the world of wilderness; being shaggy and covered with lots of hair, and he ate and drank with the animals – from within these descriptions you dont feel anything except that he was an animal. Referring to tablet 2, they had planned and arranged for Enkidu to be introduced to civilization in order to be trained, and taught all the correct ways of behaving, and dealing with people in various aspects of life like eating, talking, wearing his clothes, and even there was a plan for him to be seduced and have sexual intercourse in order to change, and have different emotions, and feelings towards everything in life.
Gilgamesh and Enkidu were opposites in the way they thought about various issues in life like for example; Gilgamesh would have sexual intercourse with every bride on her wedding night; whereas Enkidu strictly opposes to these immoral actions and stands strongly in front of him as to not behave in this manner. They experienced a lot of arguments, and vicious fights among one another when Enkidu finally succeeded to partially change the bad habits of Gilgamesh and allow him to become a better and noble human being towards himself, and to his people as being their ruler, king, and newly their hero. It was their fights that led them to become very close, and loyal friends to one another.
Gilgamesh was dedicated to do good things for his people in order to be remembered. In the meantime, Enkidu, and Gilgamesh experienced a lot of situations, and hardships together as they went to the Cedar Forest to kill its guardian – the great demon – Humbaba. They went through the gate, and were engaged in vicious acts with the Humbaba, and at the end of those fights they cut off his head despite his endless fights for his life, but Humbaba died. After that Gilgamesh washed himself, and wore new clothes, and took his crown – this act shows us that he truly became a hero in the eyes of his people and further did this act as a final goal in order to clean everything negative, and vicious, and begin a new chapter with his people as being their king, hero, and ruler followed by a good and sincere heart within himself. He would not have succeeded without Enkidu by his side, as he gave him a lot of support, and truly cared for his well being.
Gilgamesh was not used to this loyal and generous way of dealing with anyone except that he learned this from Enkidu. They changed one another to the better. Enkidu being partly human, and partly animal – he had to pay the price, and Enkidu fell sick and died. According to tablet 8, Gilgamesh had been shattered by his best friends death, and didn’t know how he will be able to continue without him by his side supporting him all the way. The story further depicts to us that despite Gilgamesh being very strong, and powerful; he couldn’t prevent the death of his best friend, and it was completely inevitable. According to tablet 9, we clearly sense that Gilgamesh has been awakened by the fact that his turn is nearly coming towards death, and that he must die, and these emotions lead him to become stressed, and completely unaware and uncertain of what to do. According to my internet source number 3, he grows his hair, and spends his time with the animals, as if trying hard to become his best friend – Enkidu; not believing that he has actually died, and he has no return.
At the end of my writings about Gilgameshs story, I would like to share that this story was indeed very interesting and intriguing to me as it included everything about life and death as I mentioned at the beginning of my paper. The story had many important pillars to it whether it were from love, seduction, death and how inevitable it always is no matter who you are – your turn is on the way, how the Gods ruled everything in the story, and always had the upper and stronger force that conquered everything, and it showed me in even more detail that in our world, our real life – God is always the upper, the greater, and the forever stronger. The story further depicted and illustrated how important friendship was, and how sacrificing for one another was more expensive and valuable than anything else in the world – In this story we have seen these features through Enkidu and Gilgamesh even after Enkidu fell sick and died.
Now, I would further like to compare and contrast between Candide, and Gilgamesh in terms of their personalities, and how they acted and reacted towards certain situations in their lives, and how different, and extreme they were from each other; yet similar in various ways even if shown between the lines. As I wrote about Candide with reference to my internet sources, and two novels by Voltaire; I have clearly seen Candides character in front of me without any masks. In my opinion, he was loyal to himself, and to his loved one without any doubts of anything else despite the hardships he has experienced; yet he was standing on his feet even though he fell multiple times; yet he quickly got up again, and continued his determined and strong willed journey in order to achieve his dreams, and goals. He didn’t accept failure neither in front of himself, nor in front of his lover – Cunegonde. As much as he might have seemed vicious, and aggressive; not in my opinion, but maybe some readers might believe so, but I felt he was the most romantic and passionate young man in the stories of literature. I have not read the full story of Candide by Voltaire, but chose various parts, and through them I have felt that he has done nothing bad to anyone, and tried to help people as much as he could. He did everything for a good reason, for a good cause, and always believed that everything happens for the best as he was taught. He cherished the gifts in his life, and knew exactly their value. Whereas Gilgamesh was clearly depicted as being vicious and harsh from the beginning – you didn’t need much time to realize this fact as he did what pleased him and then anyone else would follow. I didn’t feel he experienced any feelings or emotions of love, passion, romantic moments etc as Candide felt and experienced. On the contrary, Gilgamesh was only after one thing and that would of course be his desire for sex, and does not go beyond that. The only thing that allowed Gilgamesh to change to a completely different person and become better was his best friend Enkidu who changed his personality to its extreme. This further shows us that deep within Gilgameshs soul he is a good human being, but he needed a helping hand, a chance for true change, and he was granted just that by God.
These simple personality traits shows us a lot about the character in terms of morals, ethics, and how he dealt with the people in his life whether he was rich or poor – at the end he was a human being. The similarities that I have touched between Candide and Gilgamesh is that deep within their souls they are actually good people, and if they were bad one way or another, it was because they didn’t know any better, or maybe they were forced to do so, and maybe they were also illiterate towards many issues about life even though they have both experienced a lot of hardships, ups and downs, obstacles, etc but at the end no one is perfect, and each day that passes by we, human beings learn something new that we didn’t know yesterday, and more things that we will yet learn tomorrow.
In conclusion, I would like to share that everything happens for a reason whether good or bad, but it is Gods will that you go through it from start to finish. It was through these epics and stories of literature that I learned much more about true sincerity, and devotion for your love to no limit, sacrifice without thinking, determination to conquer all obstacles no matter how many they were; but the more obstacles, the harder and stronger we will work to cross them, and move forward. I also learned that it is sometimes through arguments, and fights that you come to know a lot about yourself, and your loved ones, and it is only then when you get closer to each other, and value and cherish one another all your life whether it were your family, your friends, and or your loved one. I further learnt that we all have to try and do good things to people in order to expect good things in return – treat people the same way you would like to be treated, and what goes around, comes around…
Works Cited Page:
1- Voltaire. Candide. England: Penguin Books Ltd, 1997.
2- Voltaire. Candide and Other Stories. USA: Oxford University Press Inc, 2006.
3- "Essay on Voltaires Candide – Optimism in Candide." 123helpme.com. 12 Dec 2009
4- "Characters of Voltaires Candide: The Transformation of Candide." www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=21583
5- "Candide Book Notes Summary." P://www.bookrags.com/notes/can/CHR.html
6- "Characters of Gilgamesh." P://www.123helpme.com/preview.asp?id=67437
7- "World Literature Gilgamesh Study Guide." P://www.novaonline.nvcc.edu/eli/eng251/gilgameshstudy.html
8- "The Epic of Gilgamesh." P://www.sparknotes.com/lit/Gilgamesh/themes.html
9- "Mesopotamia Gilgamesh." P://www.wsu.edu~dee/MESO/GILG.HTML Read More
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