All is Not for the Best

Word Count: 1009

"All is Not for the Best" 10-K Candide Voltaire\'s Candide is
the story of an innocent man\'s experiences in a mad and evil
world, his struggle to survive in that world, and his need to
ultimately come to terms with it. All people experience the
turmoil of life and must overcome obstacles, both natural
and man-made, in order to eventually achieve happiness. In
life, "man must find a medium between what Martin (scholar
and companion to Candide) calls the "convulsions of
anxiety" and the "lethargy of boredom"" (Richter 137). After
a long and difficult struggle in which Candide is forced to
overcome misfortune to find happiness, he concludes that all
is not well (as he has previously been taught by his tutor, Dr.
Pangloss), and that he must work in order to find even a
small amount of pleasure in life. Candide grows up in the
Castle of Westphalia and is taught by the learned
philosopher, Dr. Pangloss. Candide is abruptly exiled from
the castle when found kissing the Baron\'s daughter,
Cunegonde. Devastated by the separation from Cunegonde,
his true love, Candide sets out to different places in the hope
of finding her and achieving total happiness. On his journey,
he faces a number of misfortunes, among them being
tortured during army training, yet he continues to believe that
there is a "cause and effect" for everything. Candide is
reunited with Cunegonde, and regains a life of prosperity,
but soon all is taken away, including his beloved Cunegonde.
He travels on, and years later he finds her again, but she is
now fat and ugly. His wealth is all gone and so is his love for
the Baron\'s daughter. Throughout Candide, we see how
accepting situations and not trying to change or overcome
obstacles can be damaging. Life is full of struggles, but it
would be nonproductive if people passively accepted
whatever fate had in store for them, shrugging off their
personal responsibility. Voltaire believes that people should
not allow themselves to be victims. He sneers at naive,
accepting types, informing us that people must work to
reach their utopia (Bottiglia 93). In Candide, reality and "the
real world" are portrayed as being disappointing. Within the
Baron\'s castle, Candide is able to lead a Utopian life. After
his banishment, though, he recognizes the evil of the world,
seeing man\'s sufferings. The only thing that keeps Candide
alive is his hope that things will get better. Even though the
world is filled with disaster, Candide has an optimistic
attitude that he adopted from Dr. Pangloss\' teachings. In
spite of his many trials, Candide believes that all is well and
everything is for the best. Only once, in frustration, does he
admit that he sometimes feels that optimism is "the mania of
maintaining that all is well when we are miserable" (Voltaire
41). Candide\'s enthusiastic view of life is contrasted with,
and challenged by the suffering which he endures throughout
the book. Voltaire wrote this book in a mocking and satirical
manner in order to express his opinion that passive optimism
is foolish (Richter 134). Candide eventually learns how to
achieve happiness in the face of misadventure. He learns that
in order to attain a state of contentment, one must be part of
society where there is collective effort and work. Labor,
Candide learns, eliminates the three curses of mankind:
want, boredom, and vice. In order to create such a society,
man must do the following: love his fellow man, be just, be
vigilant, know how to make the best of a bad situation and
keep from theorizing. Martin expresses this last requirement
for such a society succinctly when he says, "Let\'s work
without speculating; it\'s the only way of rendering life
bearable" (Voltaire 77). One of the last people that Candide
meets in his travels is an old, poor Turkish farmer who
teaches Candide a lesson which allows him to come to terms
with the world and to settle down happily. The revelation
occurs when Candide and his friends hear of the killing of
two intimate advisors of the sultan, and they ask the Turkish
farmer if he could give them more details about the situation.
"I know nothing of it, said the good man, and I have never
cared to know the name of a single mufti [advisor] or vizier
[sultan]... I presume that in general those who meddle in
public business sometimes perish miserably, and that they
deserve their fate; but I am satisfied with sending the fruits of
my garden there." (Voltaire 76) Upon learning that this man
did not own "an enormous and splendid property" (Voltaire
76), but rather a mere twenty acres that