Candide By Voltaire

Voltaire\'s Candide is a novel which contains conceptual ideas and at the same
time is also exaggerated. Voltaire offers sad themes disguised by jokes and
witticism, and the story itself presents a distinctive outlook on life. 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 which is presented throughout the novel 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" (Voltaire, p. 31). Pangloss, the philosopher, tries to defend his
theories by determining the positive from the negative situations and by showing
that misfortunes bring some privileges. As Candide grows up, whenever something
unfortunate happens, Pangloss would turn the situation around, bringing out the
good in it. Candide learns that optimism is "The passion for maintaining
that all is right when all goes wrong " (Voltaire, p.86). According to Rene

Pomeau, "Voltaire-Candide...have made him [Candide] acquainted with the bad
and the good side of human existence. The moral of Candide is born out of its
style; it is the art of extracting happiness from the desolate hopping-about of
the human insect" (Adams; Pomeau p.137). Pomeau explains that Candide shows
both sides of humanity; how both great and terrible events are standard in a
human life. Also according to Pomeau, the whole point of the story is to debate
between good and bad; for example, as Candide becomes more independent, he
starts to doubt that only good comes out of life. Pangloss is a very hopeful
character in the story because he refuses to accept bad. He is also somewhat
naive and believes that he could make the world a better place by spreading his
theories on optimism. When Candide had met up with Pangloss after a long period
of time, Pangloss said that he was almost hanged, then dissected, then beaten.

Candide asked the philosopher if he still thought that everything was for the
better, and Pangloss replied that he still held his original views. No matter
how little Pangloss believed in the fact that somehow everything would turn out
well, he still maintained his original views. Voltaire exaggerates his point on
optimism; there is nobody in reality who is positive about everything all the
time, especially about something so horrible. One could conclude that Pangloss
is an irrational and inane figure, and Voltaire tries to expose how
incomprehensible his beliefs are which do not measure up to reality. According
to Linguet, "Candide offers us the saddest of themes disguised under the
merriest of jokes" (Adams; Wade p. 144). It seems as if Candide was written
as a comedy; not because of humor, but because every time something bad occurs,
a quick turn of events happens which bring everything back to normal. One moment

Candide murders the brother of the woman he loves, the next moment he travels to
a land where he sees women mating with monkeys. In instances like these, it
doesn\'t seem like Voltaire is serious about tragic events. During the course of

Candide\'s journey, an earthquake strikes, murdering thirty thousand men, women,
and children. In reality, this is a horrible predicament to be involved with. In

Pangloss\' world, " It is impossible for things not to be where they are,
because everything is for the best" (Voltaire, p. 35), meaning that the
earthquake was necessary in the course of nature, and so there was definitely a
rationale for the situation. To show contrast in the story, Voltaire introduces
a character whose beliefs are completely opposite than the beliefs of Pangloss.

This character is Martin, a friend and advisor of Candide who he meets on his
journey. Martin is also a scholar, and a spokesman for pessimism. Martin
continuously tries to prove to Candide that there is little virtue, morality,
and happiness in the world. When a cheerful couple are seen walking and singing,

Candide tells Martin "At least you must admit that these people are happy.

Until now, I have not found in the whole inhabited earth...anything but
miserable people. But this girl and this monk, I\'d be willing to bet, are very
happy creatures" (Voltaire, p. 58). "I\'ll bet they aren\'t"
(Voltaire p. 58), replies Martin, and he bets Candide that the couple are, in
fact, depressed, and are disguising their unhappiness. Upon talking to