Optimism Versus Reality

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*Optimism Versus*

Reality Between all the texts, we have studied so far, Candide or optimism was the most interesting. I have to say one reason is because I love the different philosophical views in the text. First of all, the text is written during the Age of Enlightment. The main philosophy at that time is that people can work together to make the world a better place. The crucial contrast in the story deals with irrational ideas as taught to Candide about being optimistic, versus reality as viewed by the rest of the world. The main theme that I got out of reading Candide is optimism. Out of every unfortunate situation in the story, Candide, the main character, has been advised by his philosopher-teacher that everything in the world happens for the better, because "Private misfortunes contribute to the general good, so that the more private misfortunes there are, the more we find that all is well". For example, Candide witnessed the public hanging of two Portuguese Jews simply because they refused to eat bacon for dinner. It was eventslike these which demonstrated the inhumanity that one person can do to another, leading Candide to disbelieve Pangloss' philosophies. Cunegonde, the object of Candide's affections, was thought dead by Candide but she had really been raped and sold into slavery. Pangloss was also presumed dead but he reappeared in Candide's life. Although it is good that these people are still alive it goes against Pangloss' optimistic theory. Indeed, throughout the novel this idea of Pangloss has been criticized more than once. When asked “What is optimism?” by Cacambo, Candide replies “Alas…it is a mania for saying that things are well when one is in hell”. The word “mania” usually referring to craziness shows the change of Candide’s view toward his teacher philosophy. This change in Candide perception of the world is precisely what Voltaire teaches us. From my point of view, everybody learns theories, or philosophies from others; but the...
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