Comparing Lessons Learned by Candide and Rasselas

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Comparing and Contrasting Lessons Learned by Candide and Rasselas Voltaire's Candide is a short satirical novel based on the life, adventures, and ultimate enlightenment of the title character Candide. The novel was subtitled ironically, The Optimist, in reference to a type of philosophy prevalent in Voltaire's day, which the author found repellant. Candide is his answer to optimism as a philosophy. Likewise, Samuel Johnson's Rasselas presents a worldview (according to the philosopher Imlac) that at times appears to be somewhat stilted. Not as cynical or satirical as Candide, however, the hero Rasselas learns lessons about life that to a certain extent elude Voltaire's hero. This paper will show how Johnson's Rasselas learns to be satisfied with pursuing his vocation as prince and "administer [of] justice" (Johnson 197), while Voltaire's Candide learns that man is essentially doomed to suffer from his own folly and ignorance in the ironically dubbed "best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire 14). Candide begins with the title character receiving instruction from his tutor Dr. Pangloss, whose worldview is characteristically optimistic (he ceaselessly asserts that the world they inhabit is the best that it possibly could be). Pangloss is a kind of satirized version of Johnson's Imlac. Neither philosopher appears to have any real control over the events of the world, even though their prescient ideas seem to give them some sort of mental agility and power. Candide is indeed

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