Examples Of Optimism In Candide

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Candide holistically represents the Enlightenment ideal of equality among men in its criticism of the aristocracy at the top of the social hierarchy. From the very start of the novella, the idea of “superiority by birth” is mocked through exaggerations of the actions and beliefs of noble characters. For example, Candide is forbidden from marrying Cunegonde because her family does not approve of the fact that “he could prove only seventy-one generations of nobility” (15) to her seventy-two. The hyperbole within this minute difference in lineage parodies the pretention and arrogance with which higher-status people of that era conducted themselves. Despite this manner of supposed superiority, however, nobility are often subject to greed, vice,…show more content…
Throughout Candide, abstract speculation prevents characters from assessing the reality of their surroundings and making practical decisions. This blinding flaw is evident in the way Pangloss chooses to ignore Candide whilst he lies suffering on the ground after the Lisbon earthquake; he instead chooses to ponder the causes and implications of the natural disaster, using his principles of optimism to guide him to the belief that “all is well” (27). The time Pangloss wastes in theorizing what could have been proves destructive, as he ignores Candide’s dying requests for oil and wine. Eventually, at the end of the novel, it is seen that Candide and the other characters find peace in working and keeping busy on the farm. Martin rejects philosophy, proposing that they “work without theorizing” because “it’s the only thing that makes life bearable” (113). With no time or energy for idly speculating aspects of life they have no control over, the group focuses on the one thing in the world they can control: their own actions. Voltaire’s support of realism rings clear in the way his characters ultimately achieve happiness through ethical and practical
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