Candide

Resignation to Realism in Voltaire's Candide

Although the main characters in Voltaire's Candide supposedly resign themselves to work and cultivation rather than philosophizing in the end, it is necessary for them to survive struggle and turmoil in order to come to this realization. The adventures that bind Candide to his companions throughout the story provide a model for Voltaire's outlook toward the world. While it is evident to any attentive observer of the real world that the optimistic philosophy of Pangloss should be rejected, the author also leaves his readers with the impression that work and compliance is the key to happiness. The potential flaws in this impression, however, ultimately show that true happiness is unobtainable in Voltaire's eyes, and throughout the narrative, Voltaire seeks to reveal that it is impossible to advocate adherence to any system of thought. Whether a person is active or passive; optimistic or pessimistic; idealistic or realistic; he can do nothing decisively to alter his state, and he therefore must entrust himself to a reality that humanity cannot alter. Because humans can only acquiesce to what they cannot control, Voltaire's satire does not act as a tool for reform but only of realism.

The progression of adventures...

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