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Voltaire's Candide Essay

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Voltaires's Candide

In Voltaires?s Candide, the main character, Candide, fails to live happily because he is looking outside of himself and his circumstances to do it. Voltaire says through Candide's ultimate discovery that happiness in many ways depends on a person's attitude. Voltaire's philosophy expressed through Candide's final realization is that "We must cultivate our garden," which is the key to happiness(p.585). By cultivating our garden, Voltaire means that we must make the best of our situation in the present moment. We accept what we are given in life and work to make the best of it. It all has to do with our perspective on life. We do not find happiness somewhere else or by philosophizing about it, we open our eyes to the
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Pangloss?s philosophy explains in a superficial way why so many bad things happen to Candide and other characters in the story. Because "everything is for the best of all possible worlds," the bad and evil eventually lead to something good and are necessary for the good to happen(p.519). Pangloss points this out to Candide at the end when he explains:

"All events are linked together in the best of possible worlds; for after all, if you had not been driven from a fine castle by being kicked in the backside for love of Miss Cunegonde, if you hadn?t been sent before the Inquisition, if you hadn?t traveled across America on foot, if you hadn?t given a good sword thrust to the baron, if you hadn?t lost all your sheep from the good land of Eldorado, you wouldn?t be sitting here eating candied citron and pistachios"(p.585).

At the same time, Candide struggles with why the evil happens if it is indeed the best of all possible worlds: "And whatever Master Pangloss said of the matter, I have often had occasion to notice that things went badly in Westphalia"(p.551). One reason that Candide should not follow blindly whatever Pangloss says is that the beliefs are not his own. Candide needs to look within himself for the key to happiness. What makes Pangloss happy will not necessarily make Candide happy. Candide learns to search himself in the end when he discovers that the key to his own happiness is "cultivating
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