Optimism as a Theme for Candide

1124 words 5 pages
Optimism as a Theme for Candide
Just as on the title, Candide, or Optimism, Optimism is also used as a major theme. Voltaire's satire of philosophical optimism is one of the major issues of Candide. Throughout the story, satirical references to "the best of all possible worlds" contrast with natural catastrophes and human wrongdoing. According to Wikipedia, "optimism, the opposite of pessimism, is a lifeview where the world is looked upon the as a positive place. Optimists generally believe that people are inherently good. These people are said to have a "positive" outlook on life, believing that given time, things will work out in the end." Also according to Wikipedia, "In philosophy, optimism is linked with the name of Gottfried
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More intelligent and experienced characters, such as the old woman, Martin, and Cacambo, have all reached pessimistic conclusions about humanity and the world. By the novel's end, even Pangloss is forced to admit that he doesn't "believe a word of" his own previous optimistic conclusions."
Within this theme of optimism , there is also the uselessness of philosophical speculation. Also according to SparkNotes.com:
"One of the most glaring flaws of Pangloss's optimism is that it is based on abstract philosophical argument rather than real-world evidence. In the chaotic world of the novel, philosophical speculation repeatedly proves to be useless and even destructive. Time and time again, it prevents characters from making realistic assessments of the world around them and from taking positive action to change adverse situations. Pangloss is the character most susceptible to this sort of folly. While Jacques drowns, Pangloss stops Candide from saving him "by proving that the bay of Lisbon had been formed expressly for this Anabaptist to drown in." While Candide lies under rubble after the Lisbon earthquake, Pangloss ignores his requests for oil and wine and instead struggles to prove the causes of the earthquake. At the novel's conclusion, Candide rejects Pangloss's philosophies for an ethic of hard, practical work. With no time or leisure for idle speculation, he and the other

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