Essay on Candide: a Satire on the Enlightenment

604 Words Oct 23rd, 1999 3 Pages
Candide is an outlandishly humorous, far-fetched tale by Voltaire satirizing the optimism espoused by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. It is the story of a young man's adventures throughout the world, where he witnesses much evil and disaster. Throughout his travels, he adheres to the teachings of his tutor, Pangloss, believing that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Candide is Voltaire's answer to what he saw as an absurd belief proposed by the Optimists - an easy way to rationalize evil and suffering. Though he was by no means a pessimist, Voltaire refused to believe that what happens is always for the best.<br><br>The Age of Enlightenment is a term applied to a wide variety of ideas and advances in …show more content…
(526)<br><br>The multitudes of disasters, which Candide endures, culminate in his eventual, if temporary, abandonment of optimism. When asked "What's optimism?" by Cacambo, Candide replies, "Alas…it is a mania for saying things are well when one is in hell." (555) <br><br>Candide finally begins to recognize the futility of his dear Pangloss' philosophy. Voltaire concludes Candide by having Candide discover the Turk's truth to life - "…the work keeps us from three great evils, boredom, vice and poverty." (584) Candide and his band of followers consider these words and decide that they "must cultivate their garden." Even when the entire group has accepted the pastoral lifestyle, finding contentment, Pangloss the Optimist attempts to prove how all their prior misfortunes were parts of the necessary chain of events for them to reach happiness. Voltaire paints Pangloss as the true dolt of optimism, never realizing the errors of his own logic.<br><br>Even though a philosopher of the Enlightenment himself, Voltaire uses Candide as a platform to criticize the utter optimism of his fellows. His use of satire throughout the story has a serious purpose. Voltaire uses satire as a means of pointing out injustice, cruelty, and
Open Document