Optimism In Candide

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Candide, the mid eighteenth century satire published by French philosopher Voltaire, escorts the reader through a burdensome journey taken by Candide, the main protagonist and namesake of the story. Throughout his continent crossing escapade, Candide is encountered with countless adversities and discouragement; however, the teaching of Pangloss, an old philosopher and companion, guide and motivate Candide while he matures and develops psychologically. His lesson, one of determination and unwavering optimism towards any misfortune or distress through one’s lifetime, left a grand impression on me and a potential for implementation in my own life. That is why I strongly disagree with Voltaire’s mocking and dismissal of perpetual optimism.…show more content…
Throughout our lives we will be faced with monumental difficulties and hardships. Setbacks like failure are inevitable. Other misfortunes like sickness, death to loved ones, job loss, among many other personal tragedies, are more or less out of our control. Thankfully we possess complete autonomy over one essential factor, our reaction. Pangloss’s teachings boiled down to a simple belief that everything happens for a reason and that it is eventually for the best, giving us reason to never quit or lose optimism in our endeavors. This thinking can be harnessed to use every adversity and misfortune as a lesson that helps us on our individual journeys through life. His teachings also provide an understanding that each difficult part of life will sum to a greater plan, thus supplying a reason to keep pushing forward, a central theme to Candide during his travels throughout the entirety of the story. Many devastating events could have easily deterred Candide: wars, torture, natural disasters, being robbed multiple occasions, deaths to those around him, just to name a few. Each event could have been sufficient reasoning for Candide to quit, to lose all faith in humanity and the world at large, yet he persists. Although in writing this Voltaire’s aim was to show this optimism has no eventual fruition, I believe optimism is the only approach one can take when given life’s burdensome adversities. If we take this lesson at face value and conclude that optimism has no benefits to us, we will struggle mightily when faced with any hardship throughout life. Voltaire is partially correct in that potentially not every dark time during our lives is going to be beneficial, but to truly be a failure is to lose hope. Hope and optimism are the only reasons many people throughout history have become successful despite overwhelming odds against them; it is also the
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