18 November, 2002

Candide Versus The Fountainhead

The following is an assigned essay which was completed for a grade. Unfortunately, some formatting has been lost in the transition to LJ.

Author: Eric J. Herboso
Class: ENG 121.02 (Composition I), for Dr. Schaub
Assignment: Paper 5: Compare & Contrast Candide & The Fountainhead

Perhaps no two philosophic works seem as though they could not be more different at first than Voltaire’s Candide and Rand’s The Fountainhead. Whereas Voltaire’s point was to make fun of Optimism (among other things), Rand intended to portray the ideal hero and what made that hero so very ideal. But when a disconcerting reader looks closely, it is found that both books share a basic premise of ridiculing what others take for granted.

Neither Voltaire nor Rand went so far as Marquis de Sade, but they did both write an attempt to question others’ beliefs. Candide (from Candide) goes through life naively, believing in an ideal that no one else can see; similarly Roark (from The Fountainhead) goes through life oblivious to others’ ideals, believing instead in things that no one else can see. (insert quotation here) Rand praises Roark for his view, while Voltaire makes fun of Candide for the same, but in either case the author is making the same point: the consideration of oneself is paramount to considering anything else.

Voltaire had this idea that one cannot just simply explain away pain and suffering just because God made the world as it is. (insert quotation here) Rand, too, shared this view, adding that the evils of the world are spawned solely from men. (insert quotation here) Voltaire may have disagreed with this, invoking hell as the root of all evil, but really this is equivalent to man if one takes the atheist viewpoint.

Even the supporting cast of characters in each novel are remarkably similar. Dr. Pangloss (from Candide) uses what he considers to be logic in order to find ‘the one true philosophy’ (insert quotation here) – Alvah Scarrett (from The Fountainhead) does exactly the same. (insert quotation here) Pangloss expresses his philosophy in argument to others around him, and Scarrett expresses his by writing for a popular ‘paper’, resulting in the same uncultured audience to believe both.

Although Voltaire and Rand lived at different times, wrote for different audiences, and even wrote with differing ideals, the two authors still made novels that had the same basic point: believing in what others say without reason is ludicrous; one should always listen to the viewpoint of oneself before hearing any other opinion.

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