Voltaire's Candide as an Attack on Optimism Essay

Voltaire's Candide as an Attack on Optimism Essay

Length: 1281 words (3.7 double-spaced pages)

Rating: Strong Essays

Open Document

Essay Preview

Voltaire's Attack on Optimism in Candide

 
   Leibnitz emphasized, in his Discours de Metaphysique (Discourse on Metaphysics) (1686) the role of a benevolent creator. He called the constituent components of the universe monads, and while the philosophy of monads is of little concern to readers of Candide, the conclusion which Leibnitz drew from these monads is crucial to an understanding of optimism.

           

Leibnitz argued that all of these monads were linked in a complex chain of cause and effect and that this linking had been done by a divine creator as he created the harmonious universe. Since he was benevolent, omnipotent, and omniscient, he logically would create the best of all possible worlds. Hence, everything that happens in the universe is part of this greater plan, and thus must be for the best. Humans cannot appreciate how the evils encountered in every day life contribute to the best of universes and universal harmony, but they do, nonetheless.

 

            Optimism was attractive to many because it answered a profound philosophical question that mankind had been grappling with since the beginning of faith: if God is omnipotent and benevolent, then why is there so much evil in the world? Optimism provides an easy way out of this philosophical dilemma: God has made everything for the best, and even though one might experience personal misfortune, God (via your misfortune) is still helping the greater good.

 

            Voltaire's experiences led him to dismiss the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds. Examining the death and destruction, both man-made and natural (including the Lisbon earthquake) Voltaire concluded that everything was not for the best. Bad things do ha...


... middle of paper ...


...e respond, in closing, to his friend the Optimist?

 

"That is very well put, said Candide, but we must cultivate our garden" (75).

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bottiglia, William. "Candide's Garden." Voltaire: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Durant, Will, Ariel Durant. The Story of Civilization: Part IX: The

Age of Voltaire. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965.

Frautschi, R.L. Barron's Simplified Approach to Voltaire: Candide. New

York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1968.

Lowers, James K, ed. "Cliff Notes on Voltaire's Candide". Lincoln: Cliff Notes, Inc. 1995.

Richter, Peyton. Voltaire. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

Voltaire's Candide and the Critics. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1996.

Voltaire. Candide. New York: Viking Publishers, 1998.

 

Need Writing Help?

Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.

Check your paper »

Essay on Use of Satire to Attack Optimism in Voltaire's Candide

- Use of Satire to Attack Optimism in Voltaire's Candide     In its time, satire was a powerful tool for political assault on Europe's corrupt and deteriorating society. Voltaire's Candide uses satire to vibrantly and sarcastically portray optimism, a philosophical view from the Enlightenment used to bury the horrors of 18th century life: superstition, sexually transmitted diseases, aristocracy, the church, tyrannical rulers, civil and religious wars, and the cruel punishment of the innocent....   [tags: Candide essays]

Strong Essays
1369 words (3.9 pages)

Voltaire : Voltaire 's Candide Essays

- Voltaire. Candide. Baltimore, MD: Penguin Classics, 1947. Print. François-Marie Arouet, or Voltaire was an Enlightenment thinker, whose ideas are portrayed in his satiric novel, Candide. In this short novel, Voltaire critiques French society of the time, and attacks Leibnizian optimism through his sarcastic representation of Professor Pangloss, one of the optimist philosophers. Throughout the book, he describes the reality of society, which is that of misery and pain. This novel was written in 1759 during the Age of Enlightenment, when Voltaire was already a known writer who was famous for his satirical wit....   [tags: Voltaire, Age of Enlightenment, Candide, Optimism]

Strong Essays
2064 words (5.9 pages)

Voltaire's Candide as Vehicle to Discredit Optimism Essay

- Voltaire's Candide as Vehicle to Discredit Optimism    Optimism was an attractive to many because it answered a profound philosophical question: if God is omnipotent and benevolent, then why is there so much evil in the world. Optimism provides an easy way out: God has made everything for the best, and even though one might experience personal misfortune, God (via your misfortune) is still helping the greater good.               Voltaire's experiences led him to dismiss the idea that this is the best of all possible worlds....   [tags: Candide essays]

Strong Essays
1005 words (2.9 pages)

Candide: Voltaire against Leibniz’ Optimism? Essay example

- Candide: Voltaire against Leibniz’ Optimism. François-Marie Arouet, better known under his pen name Voltaire, was one of the leading philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is considered the epitome of the eighteenth century, which has been named le siècle de Voltaire. His philosophical novel or conte, Candide, was published in 1759 and remains one of his most well known and widely read of his works—particularly for the English reader. In one part of his Columbia dissertation “Voltaire and Leibniz,” Richard A....   [tags: Philosophy]

Strong Essays
1835 words (5.2 pages)

Voltaire's Candide: The Prospect of Survival Essay

- In Voltaire's Candide, many of the characters share the uncanny ability to go through difficult situations and survive. Some of them are even killed, only to return in the next chapter healthier than ever. In many cases, they narrowly escape death due to the help of a friend who bails them out and asks for nothing in return. After so many close calls, one can't help but speculate if a higher power is in control of their fates, or possibly their survival is solely due to luck. In the first chapter, Candide is caught kissing Cunegonde by her father, the Baron, who banishes him from the castle....   [tags: Candide essays]

Strong Essays
604 words (1.7 pages)

Voltaire And The Age Of Enlightenment Essay

- ... Candide gets this philosophy from his teacher Pangloss, who is also an extreme optimist. Both Pangloss and Candide are faced with horrible suffering and misfortune, almost in spite of their optimistic outlook on life. 4. The novel is packed full of occurrences that directly oppose Candide’s philosophy. Candide is banished from the castle he lives in, travels to a new town where after a misunderstanding is forced to “run the gauntlet”, in other words be tortured by a plethora of armed soldiers, then serves in the army in a war where he witnesses mass carnage....   [tags: Candide, Voltaire, Best of all possible worlds]

Strong Essays
1383 words (4 pages)

Essay on Voltaire’s Candide: A Typical Enlightenment Work

- Candide as a Typical Enlightenment Work       Candide on the surface is a witty story. However when inspected deeper it is a philippic writing against people of an uneducated status. Candide is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truly irking, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds. Thus Voltaire uses a witty, bantering tale on the surface, but in depth a cruel bombast against the ignoramuses of his times.               Candide has reason only in the form of a companion upon which he relies for advice....   [tags: Candide essays]

Strong Essays
673 words (1.9 pages)

Candide: A Satire On The Enlightenment Essay

- Candide: A Satire On The Enlightenment Works Cited Missing 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....   [tags: Voltaire Candide Essays]

Free Essays
596 words (1.7 pages)

Essay on A Critical Analysis of Candide by Voltaire

- A Critical Analysis of Candide by Voltaire Defining optimism and redefining the philosophies of the fictional Pangloss and the non-fictional Leibniz, Candid embarks on a mishap journey. From the very onset, Voltaire begins stabbing with satire, particularly at religion. Candide, which has been credited the base for the book and movie Forrest Gump, features a main character teeming with naiveté. Pangloss says all is for the better and Candide lives by this edict with unaltered optimism. Faced with death and fatigue, Candide is befriended only to be enlisted in the Bulgarian army....   [tags: Papers]

Free Essays
336 words (1 pages)

Satire in Candide by Voltaire Essay

- Satire in Candide by Voltaire Voltaire who was a French writer, philosopher and one of the leaders of the Enlightenment is known as one of the greatest satirist ever. Voltaire wrote about important genres: tragedy, history, philosophy and fiction just as his English contemporary Samuel Johnson. American heritage dictionary defines satire as, "An artistic work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. Irony or caustic wit used to expose or attack human folly." The satirist adopts a critical attitude and usually presents his material with wit and humor....   [tags: Papers]

Strong Essays
1463 words (4.2 pages)