Suffering In The Short Story 'Candide' By Voltaire

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One of the main purposes of the Enlightenment was to promote reason and rationalism as a way to improve society and politics. However, Voltaire, an influential and famous philosopher and writer during the period of the enlightenment, repeatedly criticized certain aspects of Enlightenment philosophy. In his short story, Candide, Voltaire somewhat harshly attacks the optimism that was so popular between philosophers during this time and instead he decides not to disregard the inescapable presence of the evil that is in nature and humans. In this piece of literature, the protagonist of the story, Candide, experiences extreme changes in his reason and maturity. By the end of Candide’s topographical and philosophical journey, it is evident that…show more content…
For instance, Candide is surprised when he discovers that in a foreign country women are allowed to have relationships with monkeys. Cacambo asks him, “you are surprised at everything. Why should you think it so strange that there should be a country where monkeys insinuate themselves into the good graces of the ladies? They are the fourth part of a man as I am the fourth part of a Spaniard” (Voltaire, 51). As Candide experiences the different types of suffering that occur in this world, he starts to understand how travel offers independence and acceptance. For example, he says to himself, “certainly a man should travel” (Voltaire, 59). Later in the story, Martin gives Candide some of his own observations by expressing to him, “in some, one half of the people are fools and madmen; in some, they are too artful; in others, again, they are, in general, either very good-natured or very brutal; while in other, they affect to be witty, an in all, their ruling passion is love, the next is slander, and the last is the talk nonsense” (Voltaire, 73). Therefore, it seems that travel is a helpful technique to be able to gain exposure to and understanding about similarities among diverse cultures, and particularly the aggressive nature of human suffering within each…show more content…
A person has to first achieve maturity by experiencing different cultures and making implications about human behavior. Furthermore, these experiences help the person make choices about the presence of evil, which allows one to realize that evil does exist without having to philosophically speculate about it. Additionally, individuals eventually acknowledge that, by nature, they constantly vary between being bored and suffering. From the evidence shown, one may conclude that in order to avoid the evils that are spread by humans, one may perform useful labor. Work can keep people away from evil and help them avoid boredom or distress. This idea is suggested in the beginning of the story when Cacambo leaves Candide. For instance, the narrator says, “Cacambo…was in despair at leaving a good master who had become his intimate friend; but the pleasure of being useful to him overcame the grief of leaving him” (Voltaire, 63). In this instance, practical work lets Cacambo avoid the unwanted feeling of misery. Moreover, by the end of the story, this is idea is completely developed and is mentioned subtly nearby Candide’s farm when a Turk farmer says, “I have only twenty acres…I cultivate them with my children; and work keeps at bay three great evils: boredom, vice, and need” (Voltaire, 107). Also, Candide, Pangloss, and Martin make similar conclusions about their own lives.
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