All essays must be typed (900 words, double spaced, Times New Roman) and conform to MLA writing standards and style. Research is not required, but if used, must be appropriately acknowledged in the body of the essay in MLA bracket citation style.  Even if research is not used, a Works Cited page must be included which cites the texts analyzed. If you have problems with MLA citation style, please refer to:

Grading:  Essays which receive a top grade in the “A” range must not just be well written, but must aim to go beyond our discussions in class to offer a fresh perspective.  Essays which receive a “B” grade are well written and demonstrate command of the material in conjunction with an understanding of the ideas and discussions in class.  Essays which receive a “C” grade and lower demonstrate various degrees of problems in terms of writing and understanding of the material analyzed.


  1. Is Voltaire’s portrait of Eldorado optimistic or pessimistic? Would you call Voltaire’s overall view of the world pessimistic?
  2. Discuss Voltaire’s treatment of satire. Whom or what is he attacking? Think of the question of evil (theodicy). What is the role of incongruity, absurdity, and exaggeration in this attack?
  3. What is the role of philosophical thought in Candide? Look at the character of Pangloss. How is he portrayed?
  4. What does “we must cultivate our own garden” mean? Is Voltaire advocating retreat from society or active engagement in it?

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