Voltaire's View Of Optimism Influence On Candide

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In reality, everyone’s perception of reality is a little different. Each person has their own interpretation of what reality is, and it affects the way that they think about things. A famous example is the glass half-full or glass half-empty concept. In this idea, everyone is either an optimist or a pessimist depending on how he or she sees a glass that is filled to the middle with a liquid. If the glass to him or her is half-full, then he or she sees the better side of things and is an optimist, but if the glass to him or her is half-empty, then he or she sees the worse side of things and is a pessimist. Many praise the optimist for being able to see the good in a world that is full of hate, but the French philosophe and author Voltaire insists…show more content…
For example, when Candide, enlisted in the Bulgarian army, fights in a war against the Abares, he views the horrendous and barbarous scenes of battle to be honorable. He says, “Never was anything so gallant, so well accoutered, so brilliant, and so finely disposed as the two armies” (Voltaire 6), and even continues to describe the carnage as “heroic butchery” (Voltaire 6). Candide’s belief in optimism causes him to believe that there cannot be any evil in the world because if there were, then it would not be “the best of all possible worlds” (Voltaire 6). Therefore, even deplorable events like war that seem to be unfortunate are actually good because bad could not exist in this perfect world that Candide believes the world is. But even when Candide begins to believe otherwise, that unfortunate events do actually exist in reality, he returns to thinking that they might actually be good because they lead to some greater end. For instance, when he narrowly escapes from becoming the meal of the Oreillions, Candide reflects on Cunegonde’s brother and says, “If I had not fortunately run my sword up to the hilt in the body of Miss Cunegonde’s brother, I should have certainly been eaten alive. But after all, pure nature is an excellent thing; since…show more content…
War is not gallant, nor is not getting eaten a justification for killing someone. The reason that Voltaire creates Candide’s character as an optimist who sees the world in a clearly obscene way is because Voltaire wants to completely discredit and destroy the philosophy of optimism by pointing out the flaws in Candide’s views on the war and in the sinking of a ship. For instance, returning to the first example of the war against the Abares, Candide sees the burning down of people’s homes as ethical because it is “agreeabl[e] to the laws of war” (Voltaire 6), and even describes the rape of several young virgins to be “[satisfying to] the natural necessities of the Bulgarian heroes” (Voltaire 6). From this description, it is apparent that Candide’s belief in optimism is perverting his view on the world, which discredits the view of optimism because it is obscene to conceive that total war might be ethical and moral even when it involves the harm of innocents. This occurs again when Candide sees the ship of the man who robbed him sink and discusses it with his companion at the time, Martin. Candide says, “You see that vice is sometimes punished. This villain, the Dutch skipper has met with the fate he deserved” (Voltaire 59). To this, Martin, who is a pessimist, replies, “[W]hy should the passengers be doomed also to destruction? God has punished the knave, and the Devil has

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