Essay On Candide

Submitted By lindseyt93
Words: 1323
Pages: 6

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Dustin Thomas
Professor Daniel Grantham
World Lit II
Less Optimistic Than Meets the Eye: Voltaire’s Sarcasm for Optimism Voltaire did an amazing job writing a novel that would have pleased a reader looking at it from any point of view. Have you ever been reading a novel and thought this is inspiring, before finally realizing that the writer is simply being sarcastic? This was the case for me when I read Voltaire’s Candide. The man seemed to almost make fun or attack the thought of optimism. I am going to explain how you might think optimism is what is happening, while also showing examples of how Voltaire is only being sarcastic. With the use of irony and some of the most creative ways to make it seem that tragic events lead to the best of all possible worlds Voltaire has created an amazing work that shoots down optimism. I will break the story down into a series of events that happened in Candide’s life to show how sarcasm was used throughout the novel. First, in the very beginning of the book Candide was struck with a quick series of unfortunate events that changed his life. He was only a young boy who thought very highly of the oracle in the household he lived in. The oracle was a man named Pangloss who taught that there is no effect without cause, and that they were always in the best of all possible worlds. At a first glance his teachings to Candide seemed like a good thing that Voltaire humorously called metaphysico-theologico-cosmo-codology. When I read this over a few times I realized it was a joke making fun of the teachings of this best of all possible worlds. Voltaire at several points in the story almost comes out and says the philosophy is invalid. For example, Voltaire states that
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Candide listens to his teachings while innocently believing. The poor Candide was in love with a girl named Cunegonde but was not allowed to be with her. Candide and Cunegonde were caught kissing, which led to him getting thrown out of the castle. This was only the beginning of the unfortunate events that came upon Candide. He was captured by the Bulgars to be put to death. After this he managed to get pardoned and escape only to be led into battle where he would surely be killed. Throughout all of this Candide stays strong to Pangloss’ teachings only to be hurt and rejected because of it. Voltaire in this series of events again makes fun of Pangloss’ teachings. He states that Candide is saying all of this was necessary to happen to him, which gets him rejected and left without food. Jacques gave him some bread beer and sent him on with two florins. Voltaire then uses irony by adding Pangloss back into the story as a sickly beaten up beggar in need. So this is obviously stating that too much optimism will get you nowhere because both men are now left with nothing. Fortunately the story, the irony, and the humorous ways of Voltaire’s view on optimism become even better as the story is progressed. Next, Candide was determined that he was still living in the best of all possible worlds only to have nature prove otherwise. Jacques the Anabaptist had to go to Lisbon on a business trip. He decided to take Candide and Pangloss along with him. While Candide and Pangloss were talking about the best of all possible worlds ironically a storm approaches in the middle of this conversation. This reminded me of someone saying “this could not get any worse,” and then it begins to pour down raining on them. Because of this storm the ship was wrecked and torn to pieces. Of course Voltaire makes it as if the optimism is just overwhelming. He does this when Pangloss tells Candide not to jump in the water after Jacques. Pangloss stated that Lisbon harbor must have been created for him to drown in it. I think the writer does an amazing job of proving
Thomas 3 a valid point while writing an interesting story at the same time. Candide experiences more trouble when he reaches Lisbon as he encounters an Earthquake. Before even