Candide – A Contrast To Optimism EssayCandide – A Contrast to OptimismFrancois Marie Arouet de Voltaire was the French author of thenovella Candide, also known as “Optimism”(Durant and Durant 724).
InCandide, Voltaire sought to point out the fallacy of Gottfried Williamvon Leibniz’s theory of optimism and the hardships brought on by theresulting inaction toward the evils of the world. Voltaire’s use ofsatire, and its techniques of exaggeration and contrast highlight theevil and brutality of war and the world in general when men are meeklyaccepting of their fate. Leibniz, a German philosopher andmathematician of Voltaire’s time, developed the idea that the worldthey were living in at that time was “the best of all possibleworlds. ” This systematic optimism shown by Leibniz is thephilosophical system that believed everything already was for thebest, no matter how terrible it seemed.Order now
In this satire, Voltaireshowed the world full of natural disasters and brutality. Voltairealso used contrast in the personalities of the characters to conveythe message that Leibniz’s philosophy should not be dealt with anyseriousness. Leibniz, sometimes regarded as a Stoic or Fatalist because hisphilosophies were based on the idea that everything in the worldwas determined by fate, theorized that God, having the ability to pickfrom an infinite number of worlds, chose this world, “the best of allpossible worlds. ” Although Voltaire chose that simple quality ofLeibniz’s philosophy to satirize, Leibniz meant a little more thanjust that. Even though his philosophy stated that God chose “the bestof all possible worlds,” he also meant that God, being the perfectionhe is, chose the best world available to him, unfortunately it was aworld containing evil. It seems as though Voltaire wanted to ridiculeLeibniz’s philosophy so much that he chose to satirize only theliteral meaning and fatal acceptance of evil of Leibniz’s philosophy.
To get his point across in Candide, Voltaire created thecharacter Dr. Pangloss, an unconditional follower of Leibniz’sphilosophy. Voltaire shows this early in the novella by stating, “Heproved admirably that there is no effect without a cause and that, inthis best of all possible worlds. . .
. (16)” Pangloss goes on to say thateverything had its purpose and things were made for the best. Forexample, the nose was created for the purpose of wearing spectacles(Voltaire 16). Because of his “great knowledge,” Candide, at thispoint a very naive and impressionable youth, regards Pangloss as thegreatest philosopher in the world, a reverence that will soon becontradicted by contact with reality (Frautschi 75). The name Panglossis translated as “all tongue” and “windbag. ” The colloquialism”windbag” implies that a person is all talk, and he takes no action.
In this case, Leibniz’s philosophy is Stoic acceptance of the evil ofthe world. As the story progresses, though, Pangloss loses faith inthe Leibnizian philosophy. Although Pangloss suffered many hardships,he still sticks to the philosophy to avoid contradicting himself(Frautschi 69). Voltaire uses Pangloss and a contrasting character,Martin, to point out the shortcomings in Leibniz’s philosophy.
A contrast to the views of Pangloss is the character Martin. Martin, a pessimist, is a friend and advisor to Candide whom he meetson his journey. Martin continuously tries to prove to Candide thatthere is little virtue, morality, and happiness in the world. When acheerful couple is seen walking and singing, Candide tells Martin, “Atleast you must admit that these people are happy (80). ” Martin answersCandide’s comment with the reply, “I wager they are not (80). ” Martinsuggests that Candide invite the couple to dine at .
. . . . his hotel.
As theyoung girl, now found to be Paquette, tells her story, Martin takespleasure in knowing he has won the wager. Another contrast to this “best of all possible worlds” isEldorado. Voltaire describes Eldorado as an extremely peaceful andserene country. Eldorado, a place that is “impossible” to find, has nolaws, jails, war, or need for material goods.Voltaire uses Eldoradoas an epitome of the “best of all possible worlds.” It contrasts thereal outside world in which war and .