Aphra Bhen's Oroonoko "The royal Slave" and "Candide, Or Optimism"
Aphra Bhen was a prolific female playwright and author during the restoration period of English history. Bhen herself stood by the power of the monarchy. Her book ‘_Oroonoko_’ has hints within the text that royalty is seen as set apart from the rest of society; and that rank is the natural order of things. Though little is really known about Behn’s early years, evidence suggests that she may have had a Catholic upbringing; (1) however, in considering the text for analysis, Bhen’s position on religion shows that she found religion very constrictive to society, which I will discuss in detail later.
François-Marie Arouet who is also known by his nom de plume Voltaire, was famous for his wit and for his advocacy of civil liberties, including freedom of religion, freedom of expression, free trade and separation of church and state. He was a French Enlightenment writer, historian and philosopher, and his Book ‘_Candide or Optimism’_ is a satirical philosophical tale which I will also discuss in detail later.
The first text to be analysed is found on page 11 of ‘_Oroonoko_’. The text depicts the “Indian” natives of Surinam, how they appear to the narrator, how they show love to each other and how they interact with the English governor.
The text begins with a vivid description of the natives. ‘they are extreme modest bashful, very shy and nice of being touched…’ […] ‘…and though they are all thus naked if one lives forever among them, there is not seen an indecent action or glance.’ This is a vivid description of innocence, and leads to the use of poetic language when discussing erotic love: eg :-‘he pursues her with eyes and sighs were all his language’ while she: ‘…looked down with all blushing modesty.’. This is also a clever use of the narrative structure known as vocalisation, and gives a powerful impression of how the natives feel for each other. However the tone she uses in the text is also hyperbolic, in as much as she romanticises the natives she describes. Also by doing this the natives are shown as passive.
The text also contains Biblical perspective and religious connotations. In the first quarter of the narrative she states ‘…so like our parents before the fall…’ which she also connects with: ‘…and these people represented to me an absolute idea of the first state of innocence, before man knew how to sin…’ By placing these comments in this conjunction, together with the innocence she creates, she thus connects both the native man and the woman to Adam and Eve within their setting:- the jungle of Surinam, which thus creates an impression of the Garden of Eden as described in the Bible, in Genesis 3. This is something that her audience, having known the Biblical text accurately, would have been able to understand and thus take into consideration, when thinking about a man and a woman from a country a long way away.
The narrator considers this noble; when she sees their culture free from the social parameters of religion and informs the reader thus: ‘Nature is the most harmless, inoffensive, and virtuous mistress, it is she alone, if she were permitted, that better instructs the world than the inventions of man; religion would here destroy that tranquillity that they possess by ignorance.’
But she also sates in the first quarter of the text . ‘It seems as if they had no wishes, and nothing to heighten their curiosity’; and later adds: ‘where there is no novelty there is no curiosity.’ when this is considered with the biblical connections, there is the possible implication of rank detachment thus separating the natives from the Christian-European culture which she and her readers are a part of.
At the end of the text, she separates the natives even further from the colonists, when she describes a meeting with the Governor.
When the Governor cannot make the trip to see them, the natives conclude that he must be dead. When this it is seen that this is not the case, the natives call the Governor ‘a liar and guilty of that infamy’. On one level, this could be seen as ‘native justice’ as she calls it. However, it also implies that the natives are limited in their understanding, and possibly suggesting that colonisation is acceptable, moreover necessary for their development.
The second texts is seen on Pages 40 to 42 of Voltaire’s ‘Candide or Optimism’ and are contained in chapter 16 of the main text. The scene depicts Candide and Cacambo entering the Jungle of Orillion, Their entrapment by the Orillians’; Cacambo’s discourse with the Orillians, who then release Candide and Cacambo from captivity, and ends with Candide’s exclamation as to how nice the Orillians are.
‘It’s a Jesuit it’s a Jesuit we will be avenged! And we’ll eat the Jesuit! ‘ say the Orillians after capturing Candide. Here Voltaire is seeing the native as very savage. But he is also viscously satirical and ironic, as Voltaire himself was taught by the Jesuit order. The omniscient narrator here gives us insight into what the natives are saying, and this adds to the viscous humour and the irony.
Candide then considers the philosophy of optimism which is the underpinning continuing theme within the text ‘All is for the best, no doubt, but I must say that it’s a cruel thing to have lost Mademoiselle Cunégonde and be roasted on a spit by the Orillions.’
Cacambo comes to the rescue by reasoning with the natives. Here Voltaire does not see a race that is inferior to the culture in Europe, but simply another form human being that can be reasoned with. As Cacambo states: that: ‘natural law teaches us to kill our neighbour all the world over’. […] ‘The Orillians might be cannibals’ but as he says ‘We Europeans have other means of eating well’ thus suggesting that there is little that separates modern society from the native, other than money.
The Orrillians are convinced by Cacambo’s reasoned speech and not only do they let them go, they give them women and are treated with “every civility” again underlining the ‘civility’ of the native population and thus informing the reader of the day that the natives are civilised in their behaviour, despite where they live and what they wear and try to do.
As the piece end’s, Candide is overcome both by his deliverance but also by the natives themselves “what men! What customs!” he says, going back to the theory of Optimism and the issues that relate to cause and effect: ‘ if I had not run my sword right through Cunégonde’s brother, I would have been eaten alive without fail.’ […] ‘It seems to me that nature is a good thing, since these people, instead of eating me, showed me a thousand civilities just as soon as they know I was not a Jesuit.’
In its tone style and genre ‘_Candide or Optimism’_ is a sharply satirical, philosophical tale that stands against the Leibnitz’s argument for philosophical optimism which is summed up in the words of Alexander pope: ‘whatever IS, IS RIGHT’. (2) In its tone style and genre ‘Oroonoko’ is a classical tradgedy where the hero is brought low by personal character flaws or outside circumstances.
In comparing and contrasting the texts, both consider colonisation and exploration: In considering the concept of exploration within ‘_Oroonoko_’ Bhen paints a vivid picture of the passivity and the beauty of the natural order, and how this justifies hierarchal society, Whereas, in ‘_Candide_’ Voltaire paints a very different picture, where humanity as a whole is struggling with its very nature, and only reason and enlightenment can help humanity progress.
In considering colonisation, Bhen supports the idea of colonisation as a means of financial gain for the homeland. Therefore the natives are shown as a species on their own but a secondary species, next to the European colonists which thus supports the idea of slavery, as a means to an end, despite the suffering that slavery incurs. This is seen in how she considers the natives in the text, who are considered, on the whole as naïve.
In ‘_Candide_’ Voltaire gives us a very complex picture of a world with complex cultures that simply do not interact well. Suggesting that colonisation is an imposition of one culture upon another for the sake of greed. This too is seen in the way he portrays the natives in the text, and though both consider religion to be a man-made construct that is difficult and dangerous to impose upon another culture. It is Bhen’s perspective of the natives that is demeaning, whereas Voltaire’s position is one of equality where we are all the same ‘the world over’.
‘_Oroonoko_’ by Aphra Bhen and ‘_Candide_’ by Voltaire, Both have varied and complex arguments relating to slavery and the plight of humanity. Both are very different and tell two very different stories of life in other lands. The fact that they are still in print now, is a reflection of their importance in understanding the attitudes and cultural aspects of the time that they were written. This in turn, still makes them as important as they were when they were first written.
1. Todd J Introduction xviii Oroonoko
2. Pope A _Essay of man p 45-6_ Fraiser R Voltaire “_candide, or optimism”_ P 182 renaissance and the long 18th Century (ed) Pacheo A, Johnson D, Open university press.
Bhen A. Oroonoko William canning (1688) (ed) Todd J. penguin classics(2004)
Voltaire Candide or Optimism (ed) T. Cuffe Penguin classics (2005)
The Renaissance and long eighteenth century (ed) Pacheo A, Johnson D, Open
Nature in Literature
Nature plays a huge role in many pieces of literature, but especially Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North and Voltaire’s Candide. There is a major difference between the two forms of literature and how nature is incorporated into each. This Japanese form of literature has a much lighter tone than that of the European style of literature. You can see a calmer, more relaxed intention into the nature that is in Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North.
On page 413 in Basho’s piece, it says “As the year gradually came to an end and spring arrived, filling the sky with mist, I longed to cross the Shirakawa Barrier, the most revered of poetic places. ”
From this section, you can see that Basho gets his inspiration for his literature and poetry from the places that he travels, and this resulted in his linked-verse sequence. Even though Basho had a long, tough journey of travels; the nature takes his breath away.
On page 416 of Narrow Road to the Deep North, it says “my body and spirit were tired from the pain of the long journey; my heart overwhelmed by the landscape. ”
This statement shows that regardless of the struggles, he could find a poetic sense in everything he went through. In Narrow Road to the Deep North, Basho also found religion to accompany the bright nature in his literature of his travels. On page 418, Basho writes, “the green of pine is dark and dense, the branches and leaves bent by the salty breeze—as if they were deliberately twisted. A Stalker 2 soft, tranquil landscape, like a beautiful lady powdering her face. Did the god of the mountain create this long ago, in the age of the gods? Is this the work of the Creator?
” The landscape was so beautiful to Basho, that he couldn’t figure out how it came about to be what it was. He questioned if the Gods had created it. From the passages, you can tell that Basho found much beauty in nature on his journey, even though it was a tough one. Voltaire had a much different take on nature compared to Basho. After reading both passages, you can tell that Voltaire’s Candide has a much darker feel to the literature. In the opening paragraph on page 454, Voltaire writes “Once upon a time in Westphalia, in the castle of
Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, there lived a young boy whom nature had endowed with the gentlest of dispositions. ” This opening sentence makes you believe that it could have a similar feel to Basho’s story. When you reach page 460, there is a line that says “While he was presenting his argument, the air grew thick, the winds blew from the four corners of the earth, and the ship was assailed by the most terrible storm, within sight of the port of Lisbon. ” his passage not only shows you that the nature of the story is a lot more dramatic, but it also shows you that Voltaire is more focused on the weather instead of the landscape. There is a dramatic earthquake and a storm that destroys the ship that they are on.
Page 461 says “Whirlwinds of flame and ash covered the streets and public squares: houses disintegrated, roofs were upended upon foundations, and foundations crumbled. ” Voltaire writing this in his passage just shows the reader how awful and destructive the earthquake actually was. While you understand that they encountered a massive destructive earthquake, they do actually see some light at the end of all the horrible events.
On page 467, it says “’All will be well,’ was Candide’s reply. ‘Already the sea in this new world is better than those we have in Europe. It’s calmer, and the winds are more constant. It is assuredly the new world which is the best of all possible worlds. ’” This statement Stalker 3 shows that the opening statement remains true, that Candide did see nature as gentle, rather than destructive. Overall, reading these two works of literature gives you a great sense of how different Japanese nature in literature is compared to European nature in literature.
Japanese nature in literature has more of a Zen feel to it than European nature does. Japanese literature focuses more on trees and landscapes, while the European literature has a great focus on the weather. Regardless of the occurrences that happened in both stories, both ended with the character looking at the brighter side of things. Nature is a beautiful thing, and both Japanese and European literature acknowledge this as you read in Basho’s Narrow Road to the Deep North and Voltaire’s Candide.
Explain the Differences Between Pangloss's Philosophy
Pangloss’s philosophy of life is that all is for the best in the “best of all possible worlds. ” This optimistic philosophy actually is the key element of Voltaire’s satire. Pangloss’s philosophy is against the ideas of the Enlightenment period. Pangloss believes that a powerful God had created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect. When creatures of the world, see something as wrong or evil, it is because they do not understand the ultimate good that will come out of it.
Voltaire satirically shows the reader that Pangloss is not a believable character. Voltaire illustrates this by showing us that he keeps his optimistic thought even when he is imprisoned. Pangloss ignores any evidence that contradicts his initial opinion. He also uses illogical arguments to support his beliefs. Pangloss’s philosophy tries to impose a passive attitude toward all that is wrong in the world. If the world is the best one possible, then there is no reason to make any effort to change things.
Martin is more believable than Pangloss, not because he is more sophisticated, but because he is smarter and more likely to draw conclusions with which we can identify. Martin had been robbed by his wife and beaten by his son and deserted by his daughter and also lived financial setbacks, and therefore he’s a pessimist whereas Pangloss is an optimist. He uses his experiences to judge the world whereas Pangloss was merely using a theory. As a result, Martin is more insightful than Pangloss to foresee events that will happen.
Even though Martin’s philosophy is more believable than Pangloss’s, he’s still not good at predicting how some people will behave because his philosophy is coming from extreme pessimism. Therefore it might not be wrong to say that Voltaire is trying to prove that we need flexible thought in our lives based on real evidence. Both philosophers will ultimately fail because there’s no room for exceptions in their beliefs. Candide starts his journey with the influence of Pangloss’s belief of “best of all possible worlds”.
Pangloss and Candide, suffer and witness a wide variety of horrors and tragedies together. During these tragedies, Pangloss’s s philosophy proves to be useless and even destructive at the end, because it prevents them from making realistic judgments. For example while Jacques was drowning, Pangloss doesn’t let Candide save him by saying that the bay of Lisbon had been formed for this Anabaptist to drown in. Also when Candide was buried under the rubble of the Lisbon earthquake, he asked for oil and wine because he was dying, but Pangloss ignored him and still tried to reason with the causes of the earthquake.
At the end Candide rejects his philosophy of optimism and as he and his servant Cacambo travel and go through more horrors, Candide starts believing a pessimistic view of life. When Candide meets Martin, they set sail together and Martin is just the opposite of Pangloss. He does not believe that everything is for the best in this world. Even though Candide tries to oppose Martin by talking about free will but it does not solve the problem of presence of evil in the world.
In general, Martin’s arguments seem more reasonable than Pangloss’s ideas. But, like Pangloss, Martin believes so firmly in his own view of the world that he is not flexible and usually dismisses real evidence that contradicts his philosophy. When Candide cannot find Cunegonde, Martin shows the bad influence of his pessimism. Instead of attempting to comfort his friend, Martin uses Candide’s distress to further confirm his own world-view. Just like Pangloss’s optimism, Martin’s pessimism also keeps him from taking initiative to improve the world.
Fiction Vs. Reality: A comparison of themes in "Tartuffe" and "Candide"
When reading a work of fiction, one has to be aware of different writing styles that will clue you into the information that the author wants one to pick up on. In the works, Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and Voltaire’s “Candide” the themes of appearance vs. reality can be found. I will be discussing this theme which is both obvious and subtle depending on the author. I will be discussing the theme of appearance vs. reality. In “Tartuffe”, the character “Tartuffe” is touted as a holy zealous man that is supposed to be pious.
Tartuffe is actually a master con-artist who gains entree into the household of Orgon by portraying himself as a holy man.
Throughout the play Tartuffe first gains permission to marry Orgon’s daughter Marianne, then he proceeds to try and seduce her mother and Orgon’s wife Elmire. This is one of the most obvious scenes in which one can see Tartuffe’s facade being challenged. Elmire: ‘Your declaration is most gallant, Sir, But don’t you think it’s out of character? You’d have done better to restrain your passion and think before you spoke in such a fashion.
It ill becomes a pious man like you… ‘ Tartuffe: ‘I may be pious, but I am human too: With your celestial charms before his eyes, a man has not the power to be wise.
I know such words sound strangely coming from me, but I’m no angel, nor was meant to be’ (Moliere Act III Sc IV). Tartuffe is trying to gain the affection of Elmire despite the fact that he is betrothed to Marianne. He makes another pass at Elmire again in Act Four. In this scene, Tartuffe is trying to convince Elmire that they can have an affair. Tartuffe uses language and logic that betray that he is not in fact pious at all. Elmire: But how can I consent with your offense to heaven, toward which you feel such reverence? Tartuffe: If heaven is all that holds you back, don’t worry. I can remove that hindrance in a hurry.
Nothing of that sort need obstruct our path… Tartuffe: If you’re still troubled, think of things this way: No one shall know our joys, save us alone, and there’s no evil till the act is known; its scandal, Madam, which makes it an offence and it’s no sin to sin in confidence (Moliere Act IV Sc VII). This scene truly un-masks Tartuffe as the false prude he is. In Voltaire’s novel, “Candide”, there are many examples of appearance vs. reality. The novel begins by describing different philosophical arguments. Candide’s philosophical stance is one that states that everything is the best of all possible worlds.
It can be demonstrated, that things could not be other than they are; for everything has been made to serve a purpose, and so nothing is susceptible to improvement (Voltaire 2). This ideology is one that can be inherently deceiving. When Candide and his companions arrive in Lisbon, there is a huge earthquake that kills many people and creates a great deal of damage. Candide and Pangloss attempt to help the people injured during the earthquake, during which Pangloss attempt to tell someone that the earthquake was for the best, but he ends up being taken by the inquisition:
‘For, all this is for the best; for, if there is a volcano at Lisbon, it cannot be anywhere else; for it is impossible that things should not be where they are; for all is well. ‘ A little, dark man, a familiar of the Inquisition, who sat beside him, politely took up the conversation, and said ‘ Apparently, you do not believe in original sin; for, if everything is for the best, there was neither fall nor punishment. ‘ … ‘Your Excellency will pardon me,’ said Pangloss; ‘free-will can exist with absolute necessity; for it was necessary that we should be free; for in short, limited will…
‘ (Voltaire 120). After this scene, Pangloss is to be hanged. This devastates Candide who travels on without him. Much later in the novel, Pangloss re-appears on a slave ship, where Candide is able to purchase his freedom. Candide believed Pangloss to be dead, but he was really alive, suffering in the slave galley the whole time. This type of situation happens many other times in Candide. When Candide and Cacambo decide to fight on the side of the Paraguayan Jesuits, Candide thinks he killed the brother of Cunegonde when they encountered each other.
It turns out that Candide just wounded the Baron who was also on the slave ship with Pangloss. The use of reality vs. a fake reality makes a story more interesting and gives it more dimensions. These realities are also subjective realities. In Tartuffe’s case, Dorine and Damis both saw through the monk’s false piety and tried to un-mask him. In Candide the reality exists, but Candide may not have been aware of the actual reality. Bibliography: Voltaire. Candide and Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Publishing Company Inc, 2000. Moliere. Tartuffe and other plays. New York: Penguin Group Inc, 1967.
Optimism is a mental attitude or world view that interprets situations and events as being best (optimized), meaning that in some way for factors that may not be fully comprehended, the present moment is in an optimum state. The concept is typically extended to include the attitude of hope for future conditions unfolding as optimal as well. The more broad concept of optimism is the understanding that all of nature, past, present and future, operates by laws of optimization along the lines of Hamilton’s principle of optimization in the realm of physics.
This understanding, although criticized by counter views such as pessimism, idealism and realism, leads to a state of mind that believes everything is as it should be, and that the future will be as well. A common idiom used to illustrate optimism versus pessimism is a glass with water at the halfway point, where the optimist is said to see the glass as half full, but the pessimist sees the glass as half empty.
The word is originally derived from the Latin optimum, meaning “best.” Being optimistic, in the typical sense of the word, ultimately means one expects the best possible outcome from any given situation. This is usually referred to in psychology as dispositional optimism. Researchers sometimes operationalize the term differently depending on their research, however. For example, Martin Seligman and his fellow researchers define it in terms of explanatory style, which is based on the way one explains life events.
As for any trait characteristic, there are several ways to evaluate optimism, such as various forms of the Life Orientation Test, for the original definition of optimism, or the Attributional Style Questionnaire designed to test optimism in terms of explanatory style. While the heritability of optimism is largely debatable, most researchers agree that it seems to be a biological trait to some small degree, but it is also thought that optimism has more to do withenvironmental factors, making it a largely learned trait. It has also been suggested that optimism could appear to be a hereditary trait because it is actually a manifestation of combined traits that are mostly heritable, like intelligence, temperament and alcoholism. Optimism may also be linked to health.
Explanatory style is different, though related to, the more traditional, narrower definition of optimism. This broader concept is based on the theory that optimism and pessimism are drawn from the particular way people explain events. There are three dimensions within typical explanations, which include internal versus external, stable versus unstable, and global versus specific. Optimistic justifications toward negative experiences are attributed to factors outside the self (external), are not likely to occur consistently (unstable), and are limited specific life domains (specific). Positive experiences would be optimistically labeled as the opposite: internal, stable, global.
There is much debate about the relationship between explanatory style and optimism. Some researchers argue that there is not much difference at all; optimism is just the lay term for what scientists call explanatory style. Others argue that explanatory style is exclusive to its concept and should not be interchangeable with optimism. It is generally thought that, though they should not be used interchangeably, dispositional optimism and explanatory style are at least marginally related. Ultimately, the problem is simply that more research must be done to either define a “bridge” or further differentiate between these concepts.
Philosophers often link concept of optimism with the name of Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz, who held that we live in the best of all possible worlds, or that God created a physical universe that applies the laws of physics, which Voltaire famously mocked in his satirical novel Candide. The philosophical pessimism of William Godwin demonstrated perhaps even more optimism than Leibniz. He hoped that society would eventually reach the state where calm reason would replace all violence and force, that mind could eventually make matter subservient to it, and that intelligence could discover the secret of immortality. Much of this philosophy is exemplified in the Houyhnhnms of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels.
The term “panglossianism” describes baseless optimism of the sort exemplified by the beliefs of Pangloss from Voltaire’s Candide, which are the opposite of his fellow traveller Martin’s pessimism and emphasis on free will. The phrase “panglossian pessimism” has been used to describe the pessimistic position that, since this is the best of all possible worlds, it is impossible for anything to get any better. The panglossian paradigm is a term coined by Stephen Jay Gould and Richard Lewontin to refer to the notion that everything has specifically adapted to suit specific purposes. Instead, they argue, accidents and exaptation (the use of old features for new purposes) play an important role in the process of evolution.
Some other scientists however argue the implication that many (or most) adaptionists are panglossians is a straw man. Why People Believe Weird Things: Pseudoscience, Superstition, and Other Confusions of Our Time Michael Shermer relates Frank J. Tipler to Voltaire’s character Pangloss to show how clever people deceive themselves. Shermer explores the psychology of scholars and business men who give up their careers in their pursuit to broadcast their paranormal beliefs. In his last chapter, added to the revised version, Shermer explains that “smart people” can be more susceptible to believing in weird things.
Optimalism, as defined by Nicholas Rescher, holds that this universe exists because it is better than the alternatives. While this philosophy does not exclude the possibility of a deity, it also doesn’t require one, and is compatible with atheism. The positive psychologist Tal Ben-Shahar uses optimalism to mean willingness to accept failure while remaining confident that success will follow, a positive attitude he contrasts with negative perfectionism. Perfectionism can be defined as a persistent compulsive drive toward unattainable goals and valuation based solely in terms of accomplishment. Perfectionists reject the realities and constraints of human ability. They cannot accept failures, delaying any ambitious and productive behavior in fear of failure again. This neuroticism can even lead to clinical depression and low productivity.
As an alternative to negative perfectionism Ben-Shahar suggests the adoption of optimalism. Optimalism allows for failure in pursuit of a goal, and expects that while the trend of activity will tend towards the positive it is not necessary to always succeed while striving to attain goals. This basis in reality prevents the optimalist from being overwhelmed in the face of failure. Optimalists accept failures and also learn from them, which encourages further pursuit of achievement. Dr. Tal Ben-Shahar believes that Optimalists and Perfectionists show distinct different motives. Optimalists tend to have more intrinsic, inward desires, with a motivation to learn. While perfectionists are highly motivated by a need to consistently prove themselves worthy.
Life Orientation Test (LOT)
Designed by Scheier and Carver (1985), this is one of the more popular tests of optimism and pessimism. There are eight measurements (and an additional four filler items), with four positively (“In uncertain times, I usually expect the best”) and four negatively (“If something can go wrong for me, it will”) worded items. The LOT has been revised twice–once by the original creators (LOT-R) and also by Chang, Maydeu-Olivares, and D’Zurilla as the Extended Life Orientation Test (ELOT). All three are most commonly used because they are based on dispositional optimism, which simply means expecting positive outcomes.
Attributional Style Questionnaire (ASQ)
This questionnaire created by Peterson et al. (1982) is based on the explanatory style definition of optimism. It lists six positive and negative events (“you have been looking for a job unsuccessfully for some time”), and asks the respondents to record a possible cause for the event and rate the internality, stability, and globality of the event. An optimistic person is one who perceives good things happening to them as internal, stable, and global. There are several modified versions of the ASQ including the Expanded Attributional Style Questionnaire (EASQ), theContent Analysis of Verbatim Explanations (CAVE), and the ASQ designed for testing the optimism for children.
Research has emerged showing the relationships between several psychological constructs and health. Optimism is one of these concepts and has been shown to explain between 5–10% of the variation in the likelihood of developing some health conditions (correlation coefficients between .20 and .30), notably including cardiovascular disease, stroke,depression, and cancer. Furthermore, optimists have been shown to live healthier lifestyles which may influence disease. For example, optimists smoke less, are more physically active, consume more fruit, vegetables and whole-grain bread, and consume more moderate amounts of alcohol.
The relationship between optimism and health has also been studied with regards to physical symptoms, coping strategies and negative affect for those suffering from rheumatoid arthritis, asthma, and fibromyalgia. It has been found that among individuals with these diseases, optimists are not more likely than pessimists to report pain alleviation due to coping strategies, despite differences in psychological well-being between the two groups. A meta-analysis has confirmed the assumption that optimism is related to psychological well-being: “Put simply, optimists emerge from difficult circumstances with less distress than do pessimists.”
Furthermore, the correlation appears to be attributable to coping style: “That is, optimists seem intent on facing problems head-on, taking active and constructive steps to solve their problems; pessimists are more likely to abandon their effort to attain their goals.” It should be noted that research to date has demonstrated that optimists are less likely to have certain diseases or develop certain diseases over time. By comparison, research has not yet been able to demonstrate the ability to change an individual’s level of optimism through psychological intervention, and thereby alter the course of disease or likelihood for development of disease.
Throughout his novel Candide, Voltaire utilized satire, characterization, and techniques of exaggeration and contrast to attack Candide’s two-dimensional outlook on life and to disprove the overly optimistic philosophy that Candide and Pangloss represent. While the experiences of Candide and Pangloss conflict dramatically with this philosophy, both choose to maintain their beliefs in this regard. Voltaire uses Candide as a tool to accuse the various aspects of his zeitgeist.
Through his techniques, he attacks multiple points of view and even the Enlightenment he represented.
Candide is a story about the two dimensional character of Candide, who is taught from birth not to think for himself and to accept the ideals of others. He chooses to follow the local philosopher Pangloss, who preaches that everything is good, and that the world is the “best of all possible worlds”. Throughout the story, Voltaire dramatically disproves this philosophy over and over, but the protagonist sticks with this belief.
Each of the characters in Candide represents a different aspect of his zeitgeist, most of whom Voltaire brutally attacks with his satire.
After examining Candide in Western thought and movements, there is no doubt that the work is highly critical of many of the social institutions of the time. Still, while criticizing many of the societal aspects such as religion, the class system and the detested monarchy in France Candide is not free from the biases and “unenlightened” thoughts that the revolutionary movement in France was based upon.
The philosophers wanted to work through established forms, including the monarchy and even the Church” by doing so, there were not quite as revolutionary in their beliefs since they did not attempt to go outside of the system of oppression to draw their insights. Even though Voltaire was known for verbally announce the equal rights of women, this emotion is not apparent in his fiction, especially considering the fact that the main female characters are prostitutes, women that marry for money, disease-spreaders, and most importantly victims.
In terms of religion, Candide explores the hypocrisy that was rampant in the Church. Consider for example, the inhumanity of the clergy, most notably the Inquisitor, in hanging and executing his fellow citizens over philosophical differences. Moreover, he orders the flogging of Candide for merely, “listening with an air of approval” thus proving himself somehow implicit in blasphemy.
Church officials in Candide are depicted as being among the most sinful of all citizens; having mistresses, engaging in homosexual affairs, and operating as jewel thieves. These three subjects—religious intolerance, greed, and denial of love are satirized and portrayed as wrong and harmful in Voltaire’s Candide. They are portrayed as dangerous tyrannies over the mind of men that serve only to counteract logic and damage the general welfare.
A Thesis Statement on the novel Candide by Voltaire
Not everything is all for the best. The novel Candide by Voltaire delved into the miseries of men, politics and religion where every unfortunate event that happens to the individual is to be accepted since it is all for the best. Many times in the novel, Candide’s esteemed professor, Pangloss remarked that “Everything is all for the best”. For his part, Voltaire seems to be questioning the concept of fatalism. Fatalism is the view that individuals are powerless to do anything other that what we actually do.
It seems ironic that Candide remains optimistic despite all that he had experienced; the banishment from the castle, the flogging by the soldiers and the sinking of the ship.
All these events would have made a weaker man fall on his knees and curse the heavens; but not Candide. After all, everything is for the best. Nevertheless, Candide retains his goodwill, generosity and ironically, his optimism. The concept of fatalism is taking the easy way out.
There are many instances where Candide could have avoided such unfortunate circumstances; like losing his sheep as well as his treasure. Not only that, he squandered his remaining treasure to unworthy individuals. Another instance was when Candide was flogged. He merely accepted it. He was thinking along the lines that everything is all for the best. But to think about it, how unjust is it to be lashed a thousand times for being misunderstood as deserting. In some way, Voltaire was criticizing citizens who could accept the unjust and irrational decisions of their government.
In connection with the idea of fatalism is the concept of free will. If humans were given the gift of free will, then the idea that everything is all for the best would be inconsistent. A person who has free will would be capable of shaping his or her own destiny. In lieu of this, Candide should be able to change the events that weren’t suppose to happen to him or if they did happen, then the result would not have been so disastrous or it could have at least been minimized.
One example had been where Candide stabbed the Baron, Cunegonde’s brother. He could have restrained himself and could have conducted an oral argument instead. What Candide did was rash and unwise that it was no surprise that it would end disastrously. Today, a person is expected to act and speak tactfully. There would be chaos if everyone wanted to have their own way.
Another example was when Candide and his companion were nearly eaten by the Oreillons but were saved because he killed a Jesuit, Cunegonde’s brother, the Baron. In this time, Candide thanked his good fortune for killing a Jesuit to avoid being eaten. It should have crossed his mind that if he had not stabbed the Baron, then they would have not been in that situation in the first place. It is easy to blame every happening in life as part of a grand plan. That everything is destined and fated. But if it is, then why is there free will?
It could not merely be some trick to man to think that he has control over the events in life. Constant striving to be better is what makes the world go round. The discovery of unknown places and uncharted waters are the product of motivation and will of men. In essence, man’s free will is the reason. All the consequences of one’s actions are due to one’s interactions.
Candide’s optimism, naivete and innocence may have drawn its source from Mademoiselle Cunegonde. She’s beautiful and charming and guileless. To Candide, she’s the one reason to remain living despite all the miseries of the world. In some ways, she had also been the reason why in the later part of the novel, Candide encountered many unfortunate events. He even left the utopian world of El Dorado just to be with his beloved Cunegonde. Cunegonde symbolizes Candide’s optimism.
In the novel, Voltaire also portrays the human being’s love of life. The old woman was acknowledged as the person who encountered the most unfortunate miseries. However, in spite of all that, she’s admits that she still loves life and never would she have killed herself.
The “All for the best” concept was finally refuted and rejected by Candide. In the novel, Pangloss said to Candide “All events are linked up in this best of all possible worlds; for, if you had not been expelled from the noble castle by hard kicks in your backside for love of Mademoiselle Cunegonde, if you had not been clapped into the Inquisition, if you had not wandered about America on foot, if you had not stuck your sword in the Baron, if you had not lost all your sheep from the land of El Dorado, you would not be eating candied citrons and pistachios here”. Upon which Candide replied, “Tis well said, but we must cultivate our gardens”. (Voltaire, 1949)
This shows that nothing happens without a reason. Many times in the novel, cause and effect was mentioned. That is correct; everything that happens would have an equal effect. Every action has an equal reaction. Even as simple as growing fruits and vegetables is equivalent to days and nights of hard work. They did not just magically appear from the ground or fallen from heaven. It’s the same with what happened to Candide and his companions. Some events may have been the act of God, but it is up to man to ensure that everything would be all right.
Rice, H., “Fatalism”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2002 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL =
Voltaire (1949). The portable Voltaire (B.R.Redman, Ed.). Canada: McMillan.
Fransois-Marie Arouet better known as Voltaire was born in France, and he was known as an enlightenment author. In 1759 he published the story “Candide”. It is a story of a young man who went through many mishaps but kept his faith and positive attitude. The novel is a criticism of the French culture and state of religions during this era. There were many conflicts among religious groups in France during the time the book was written. Voltaire used the real historic events as the background of the story.
The characters in this book went through unfortunate events but shared common goals in happiness, religion, and human nature. Arouet, was a believer on empiricism and religious tolerance, and it was evident throughout the book with many human experiences. At several places author used the religion as the focus through the main characters to spread light on religions during his time. There are doubts, joyfulness, sorrow, and disbelief in life, and this was the main theme of the book.
To go through life, humans use religion, good nature or positive attitude to deal with mishap events in their lives. All humans look for happiness in life, some try to get it through money, some through religion, and some through power. This review will focus on how religion played a major role in Candide’s life.
In the beginning of the story, Candide was living a good life at his uncle’s estate. He seemed to have enjoyed what life had to offer him. As the story goes on, he has an affection for a young woman named Cunegonde. His tutor Dr. Pangloss taught Candide philosophy, and other aspects of life. However, this all changed when Candide was caught by his uncle kissing a young lady, who he loved dearly. This got him kicked out of the estate. He could no longer go back to the castle. Right after this, a lot of unfortunate events took place his life that tested his faith in God.
Candide believed that all Christians are good people, but soon he experienced events that changed his view of life. He could not believe what happened to him, and lifted his head towards heaven and question why this was happening to him (3). Once Candide is no longer living at his uncle’s estate, he felt lonely and hurt because he could not see Cunegonde. He was arrested by the Bulgarian army; because during this time it was the largest uprising by the Catholic Church and Bulgarian army was supporting the Church. After captured, he was severely beaten and tortured. Finally, he was able to escape to Holland. When he arrived in Holland, he had faith that he will meet nice people as he had in Baron’s castle because these people in Holland were Christians as well. In Holland he met a Protestant speaker who asked Candide “Do you believe the Pope to be antichrist” (6). Candide replied that he does not know, but requested food to eat. The orator and his wife got very angry with him and she threw human-waste on Candide as he was shunned away from them. In these dire times, he ran into an Anabaptist named James. The Anabaptist was an extreme religion group that spun off from Protestants, but believed that baptism should be done when you are an adult. James was a very sympathetic person, and he decided to help Candide and Pangloss. Here Candide saw the good and bad nature of the religious people.
He experienced another test of his faith when during the journey to Lisbon his friend James was drowned. During a storm this Anabaptist helped a drowning sailor but in return this sailor let James drown (10). Only three people survived through the storm and one was this sailor. Candide later grieved for his friend’s death and questioned why bad things were happening to good people.
Candide met another corrupted religious personality. When the jewels of his companion were stolen by a grey friar. Once he found the love of his life they decided to travel to South America with her old servant. They found out that a Grey Friar have stolen from them. A Friar belongs to a religious order who preach. Grey Friars are missionaries who are part of the Christian religious order. This thief tried to sell jewels to a jeweler. Later he admitted that he took the jewels and money, therefore friar was hanged and punished for his crime. The author tried show that religious authorities were corrupt as well and corruption was wide spread.
Religoius discrimination was wide spread not only in Europe but around the world. Candide’s male valet named Cacambo tried to convince him to fight for the Jesuits in Paraguay. Jesuit is a Roman Catholic individual who is devoted to missionary work. They go to the “uncivilized” places and help to educate and civilize the local people or tribes. Usually they will stay at a location until progress is made. Cacambo told Candide that he has served as a servant at the College of Assumption, and he had a good relationship with the government of the good Fathers (32). As they arrived Cacambo told the head guard that the captain wanted to talk to the Commandant. As they wait, a sergeant tells Cacambo and Candide that Commandant do not want to speak or see them. But when it is said that Candide is a German and not a Spaniard, the situation changed once commandant knew about this fact. He replied by saying “God be praised! since he is German, I may speak to him” (33). When Candide talked to the Commandant a Jesuit asks him if he is German. Candide also found out that this Jesuit is none other than Cunegonde’s brother. This incident shows that people discriminated each other not only base of what country one belongs to but also base on religion.
People displaced by wars and mishaps were helped by different groups of religoius associations. Cunegonde’s brother told Candide his story and how he survived the attack. He told them that he watched as his mother and father were killed. He wanted to go and save his sister after he heard that she had been ravished by a solider, but he could not. His dead body was then dumbed on top of other bodies, until a Jesuit came by and splashed some holy water onto him. Some of the water gotten into his eyes as it started to burn, he blinks his eyes as the Jesuit discovers he is alive. The Jesuit then helped and took care of him, until the Father General needed some new German-Jesuits to go to Paraguay (35). As Candide admits to Cunegonde’s brother he wishes to marry her, Cunegonde’s brother refuses for him to marry his sister. The two men argue until he smacks Candide in the face. In doing so Candide gets angry as he took his sword and plunged it into the Jesuit’s belly. “Good God!” he said, “I have killed my old master, my friend, my brother-in law! I am the best natured creature in the world, yet I have already killed three men, and of these three two were persists” (36). Candide thinks now he will be punished more for what he has done, by killing the baron Jesuit. Candide and his valet Cacambo escaped before anyone else finds out. Once he left, he could not even find the strength in eating as he thought back about killing the Jesuit. He thought about how will Cunegonde feel if he told her the truth. Although her brother was a kind man but he still discriminated Candide because of Candide’s status.
After all these mishaps in Candide’s life, he held on to his religoius faith and realized that he has made some sins and some good deeds. At One-point Candide and Cacambo encountered two young girls who were being attacked by monkeys. After hearing their cries Candide went and saved them by firing at the two monkeys, and killing them on the spot. Candide turned to Cacambo and said “God be praised! my dear Cacambo, I have rescued these two poor creatures from a most perilous situation. If I have committed a sin in killing an Inquisitor and a Jesuit, I have made ample amends by saving the lives of these girls” (37). Candide feels good in some way that he saved the two girls from the monkeys, but also felt that he will be challenged and punished for killing the baron Jesuit. People knew the good verses bad either by the good nature or through religion. But war, poverty or circumstances made them do things they were not proud of.
Religion played an important role in this novel, author showed that all religions are good but followers may be good or bad. For example, the Jewish man who used Cunegonde as a sex slave, supposed to be riotous and supposed to strictly obey the laws of religion. Instead the story portrays Jews as sinners and doing wrongful things. The Anabaptist and the Jesuit had helped Candide in his time of hardship and doubtfulness. Candide killed the two men who used Cunegonde as a sex slave, but felt bad for committing the sin of killing someone. He also felt horrible when he killed Cunegonde’s brother. Even though, he was a friend to him, killing him with his bare hands shook him to the core. The circumstances and current situation made him do things he never approved.
During the time novel was written there were many different new religions in Europe. Several of them branched off from the Catholic church. Religions such as Lutheranism, Baptism, Protestants, Easter Orthodox, and more. People were using religion as an excuse to hate each other and creating wars to prove their point. Also, greed of land, money and resources drove them out of their countries to attack others but it was done under the name of religion such as Crusades.
Candide’s Tone of Irony
Voltaire wrote Candide in 1759 during an “era… in which the conventions and inequities of European society were being questioned and attacked on all sides” (v). It is apparent from the text that his ultimate goal in writing the novel was to point out flaws in French society, such as the importance placed on money, unquestioning following of religion, and foolish philosophical speculation. The reader is bound to find Candide, the main character, and his adventures amusing and humorous, but the underlying messages of this seemingly light story are evident. One of the devices Voltaire uses is an ironic tone, which aids in exposing his feelings about the class system in France at the time, in which Candide represents the elite. Voltaire particularly achieves irony by making fun of his characters, placing them in ridiculous situations, and exposing them under the light of humor. Candide maintains an overly optimistic view of the world throughout the story, even though he witnesses and experiences numerous disasters. His love for Cunegonde is challenged so many times it seems impossible that anything could ever come of it. He journeys the world, as he has been banished from his home for being seen kissing her, and struggles to survive. But Candide believes he lives in “the best of worlds” (7), an idea uttered so many times he and Pangloss appear idiotic, since they seem to live in the worst of worlds, plagued by tumultuous situations. Candide maintains a sunny outlook on the world because he relies on blind luck to save him. His perpetual good fortune is much like that of the aristocracy at the time, who Voltaire despised for their inherently unfair privileges. Voltaire’s choice of diction also lambasts Candide and the blissful ignorance of the people he represents. Every incident is described as affecting Candide greatly, though nothing has any lasting effect on him. After being chased away from the castle in which he lived, Candide “walked a long while without knowing where, weeping, raising his eyes to heaven” (3). Candide suffers immensely, but Voltaire’s choice of words gives the impression of how a child would act after he is sent to his room. A child would think of his punishment as catastrophic, until he is distracted by something else, just as Candide is by the dinner he soon attends. Candide’s unrealistic array of adventures begins to seem never-ending after awhile. He sees a bloody battle take place, hears that Cunegonde and her entire family have been killed, and witnesses the man who took him in, Jacques, drown in a horrific storm. The reader is then made to think things might settle down or become easier for Candide. But he continues his journey, finding Lisbon destroyed by an earthquake when he arrives. Pangloss has been hanged for being a heretic, and Candide is beaten for believing Pangloss’s philosophies after being hit with the news of his death. There is bittersweet news for Candide when he finds Cunegonde is not dead, but, rather, that she has been raped and made a sex slave. The two plan to get married; however, Candide’s bad luck is far from over. He loses Cunegonde to a wealthier man who proposes to her. He resumes his tumultuous adventuring, which includes almost getting eaten by a Biglug tribe, and has the fortune he finds in El Dorado stolen from him. Candide is not a noble man nor an intelligent one, so the fact that he has lived through all of this, let alone remained optimistic, is outrageous; such experiences would send others into anger or despair. Even more ironic is the fact that everything turns out perfectly for Candide in the end; Cunegonde leaves her husband and marries him. Ironically, he “had no wish to marry Cunegonde” (84), the love of his life. But he does so because Cunegonde begs her brother, the Baron of the castle Candide resided in, to allow them to wed. Candide finds out Pangloss was not actually killed and bands with him once again. He takes up gardening and lives a very good life, reunited with several characters in a sudden and seemingly impossible fashion. To add to the irony of Candide, the characters are placed in humorous situations and use language that intensifies the comedic effect. Candide’s optimism is an exaggerated trait that parallels the attitude of many people. Voltaire’s point is, perhaps, that such an outlook is not the best policy. Maybe people should not go though life passively accepting what happens to them, hoping things will improve, but instead by being proactive. Candide’s good luck is unrealistic and cannot be attributed to his manner of seeing the world. He loses his fortune as quickly as he comes across it, reflecting Voltaire’s opinion that money should be earned; people who are born with it or randomly stumble upon it deserve to lose it quickly. He also is not fond of unnecessary formalities, revealed when he describes Pangloss as “professor of metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology” (1). Pangloss wants his title to be admired, but Voltaire incites the reader to find it laughably excessive. Thus, through its potent use of irony, Candide is a classic example of satire. The situations and attitudes in the story humorously parallel those existing in real life at the time. Voltaire uses irony in his descriptions to point out that the conditions in the story and, consequently, reality are ridiculous. It is hardly surprising that today, therefore, Candide is a prominent novel of historical importance.
The Best of Both Worlds
In Voltaire’s Candide, the title character voyages from continent to continent in search of love and the meaning of life. On his journeys, his optimism–learned from his ever-present tutor, Pangloss–is slowly whittled away. Candide experiences corruption and deceit, particularly in the church. Most importantly, Candide realizes that one should cultivate one’s own life and not leave anything to chance. Through these lessons, Candide develops from an innocent student into a wise young man. Born in Westphalia, Candide is the illegitimate son of the sister of Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh. He is therefore provided an education by the premiere philosopher in Westphalia: Pangloss. Pangloss’ main philosophy is optimism. Whenever Pangloss is presented with a bad experience from another character, he simply says that it is for the best. At one point, for example, he says, “[Syphilis] is indispensable in this best of all possible worlds…for if Columbus, when visiting the West Indies, had not caught this disease…we should have neither chocolate nor cochineal” (30). With similar optimism, Candide proceeds on his journey. However, as he develops as a character, he realizes that this is not how the world operates. Although optimism suffices as an explanation of the world to a young, naÃ¯ve Candide, it becomes less and less cogent as the story progresses. Candide is born into an ideal world where he is respected, educated, and provided for. Yet, when he departs, he is subject to a devastating natural disaster, a public humiliation, and the loss of the love of his life–among other difficulties. In chapter 26, for example, Candide dines with six dethroned kings. As Candide hears the sad accounts of the former rulers, he is forced to challenge whether, indeed, all things turn out for the best. The final blow to Candide’s optimism occurs at the end of the novel, when Pangloss and Candide visit the Dervish, allegedly the wisest man in all of Turkey. Pangloss tells the Dervish that “I had been looking forward to a little discussion with you about cause and effect, the best of all possible worlds, the origin of evil, the nature of the soul, and pre-established harmony” (142). To this, the Dervish slams the door in their faces. That the wisest of men disregards Pangloss’ philosophy forces Candide to depart entirely from optimism. this action symbolizes Candide’s departure from optimism. The second lesson that Candide learns is that organized religion is vain and corrupt. Voltaire represents church figures as selfish, and organized religion as a sham. For example, Voltaire describes the origin of Pangloss’s sexually transmitted disease: “Paquette was given this present by a learned Franciscan…” (30). Candide learns that Pangloss received the disease from a monk, who is supposed to be celibate. Thus, Candide is exposed to the deceit of the church. In addition to the non-celibate monk, Candide encounters many other figures that disparage the church and organized religion in general. One such character is the Grand Inquisitor. He is introduced when he condemns Candide and Pangloss to an auto-da-fÃ©, in which Candide is tortured and Pangloss supposedly hanged. Later, Candide comes to know him as the forced lover of CunÃ©gonde, who blackmails her Jewish owner into sharing her. When the Inquisitor enters and sees the Jew dead, Candide quickly impales him. As the Grand Inquisitor, a very high level church official, the character is involved in blackmail, sexual promiscuity, and heartlessness. Another example of church corruption is the duplicitous AbbÃ© of PÃ©rigord. The AbbÃ© pretends to be friendly with the affluent Candide. He brings Candide into his social circle, introducing him to important people. Yet he is described as sniveling, snobby, and greedy. Thus, throughout his adventures, Candide encounters various negative representations of ecclesiastical figures. He learns that very few authority figures are entirely benevolent human beings. The final lesson for Candide is that to achieve a happy, purposeful life, he must cultivate his own character. In his soul-searching, Candide encounters three major “checkpoints” which chronicle his emotional and philosophical development. The first is Eldorado, a city in which the streets are paved with precious gems and everyone is cordial. All aspects of this city symbolize optimism–and yet its very existence proves to Candide that optimism cannot be. If everything is for the best, then there would be no need for Eldorado to be hidden. However, as it remains hidden, Candide realizes that he can not rely on fate to make him happy. The second checkpoint is the home of Count Pococurante, a wealthy Venetian. The count has a magnificent collection of material goods, yet he is scornful of all of his belongings. He explains, “there is a pleasure in not being pleased” (124). Candide is disgusted by this approach, and affirms that it is not material wealth that makes one happy. It is not until Candide’s experience with the third and final garden that he realizes the route to happiness and satisfaction. After speaking with the Dervish, the group comes across a Turkish farmer who invites them into his home. He then explains that he is happy being ignorant of scandals and negativity, and that he cultivates his garden with his family. On page 143, the farmer explains that the farm work “banishes those three great evils, boredom, vice, and poverty.” It is at this final garden that Candide realizes what the goal of his life should be: self-cultivation. Candide says to Pangloss, “We must go and work in the garden.” Finally, he opposes Pangloss’ theory that things are for the best in the best of all possible worlds. Candide officially abandons his original notion of optimism and completely denies fatalism, or the approach which leaves everything to fate. He learns that to lead a successful life, he must cultivate himself, and work to make himself the best he can be. This is the most important lesson that Candide learns. Thus, in the course of Voltaire’s Candide, Candide learns three important lessons. First, he realizes that Pangloss’ doctrine of optimism is not concurrent with reality. Second, Candide encounters negatively portrayed church officials and formulates the idea that leaders, especially ecclesiastical ones, are vain and corrupt. Finally, Candide learns that he must “cultivate his life” as prescribed by the Turkish Dervish. To lead a successful life, Candide learns that he must take control of his own destiny, as things are not for the best in the best of all possible worlds. By the end of this journey, Candide has transformed from a malleable youth to an enlightened young man–and according to Voltaire, it is for the best.