Voltaire's Candide: The Dangers Of Radical Optimism

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Voltaire is well known for his suggestive satirical work, especially his masterpiece Candide. Candide is a timeless piece still relevant today, that was written to warn the public about the consequences of radical optimism (Online-Literature 1). The main character, Candide, is a naïve and trusting young man who is banished from his home. Despite his life being filled with a series of bizarre disasters, Candide holds fast to his optimism – which serves as an example to readers. Voltaire emphasizes the dangers of radical optimism by incorporating tone, themes and utilizing satire in Candide. Naturally, tone is incorporated into any written piece. Voltaire uses utilizes this tool to emphasize his attitudes towards those who are radically optimistic, as well as the concept of radical optimism, creating a dual attitude system. This helps him prove his point by…show more content…
The two main themes from the story are childlike belief and naïveté, as well as destructive (radical) optimism, which are embodied in the characters of the story. Candide embodies both themes because his childlike naivety and belief in Pangloss’ teachings causes him to suffer through many different disasters until he is willing to adopt another philosophy; his inability to construct his own only further illustrates his naivety and inexperience with the world. This ignorance is the root of the dangers behind radical optimism as it prevents informed, logical, and rational thinking about the world. Even after being enlisted in the army that destroys his old home, and apparently rapes and slaughters his love Cunegonde (Candide 4), Candide remains naïve and trusting. Candide’s constant loop of disasters happens only because of his naivety, and the repetition emphasizes that warning that Voltaire is trying to present to his
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