Essay by PaperNerd ContributorHigh School, 12th grade October 2001

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Voltaire: Optimism vs. Pessimism in Candide Voltaire's Candide is a comedy. His themes are introduced through jokes and witty comments. While the title character attempts to remain optimistic throughout the novel he is constantly thrown into taxing situations. Despite the trying experiences, Candide remains faithful to the teachings of the philosopher Pangloss. So while a main theme in the novel is optimism, the hero must fight the other theme of pessimism presented in many obstacles. Voltaire himself faced many taxing situations in his life too. In some ways, the novel parallels his experiences.

When the reader is first introduced to Candide, he is living in basically his own "Eldorado". He loves his studies, Miss Cunegonde, and believes the main philosophy instilled in him. ""¦things cannot be other than what they are, for since everything is made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end," (p. 42). So when Candide is soon thrown out of his home, despite being sad to leave his love, he believes this is what is meant for him.

Candide also remains faithful that he will be reunited with Cunegonde again.

Voltaire also pined for a woman that he could not have. He and Catherine-Olympe du Noyer had met and began an ill-fated relationship. They ran away together but were separated similarly to Candide and Cunegonde. Later both the real couple and the fictional couple were kept apart due to the fact that they were not of the same social status. Both men continued to remain optimistic that they would meet again. In the case of the novel, things did end happily ever after. For Voltaire, this relationship did not work out.

Perhaps the biggest contrast in the novel of these two major themes is the philosophies of two very different characters. First there...

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