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François-Marie Arouet doesn’t exactly sound like a rebellious voice that sparked revolution and challenged the status quo, n’est pas?

Understandably, François-Marie Arouet became Voltaire after a prison stint in order to up his street “cred” (though many scholars believe it was to separate from family ties and his nobel past). No record of a badass tribal tattoo on Voltaire’s beefy bicep has been recorded but, couldn’t you imagine…..

His satirical polemic Candide only furthers this bad boy rebel persona of the Enlightened thinker.

His protagonist is thrown, beaten, whipped, and given essentially every type of physical and mental torture the world can offer. Throughout Candide’s journey, he sees the best and worst of life. Everyone has their own story of woe. Some places are nothing but suffering and some…some are El Dorado.

The episodes lead the reader to the old conclusion that an optimist believes that our world is the best of all possible and the pessimist fears that it is true. However, there is a common connotation to both sides and of course, one can never forget the realist.

All three in that case, the optimist, the pessimist, and the realist, see the world with radically different perspectives. Optimism clings to faith and hope. Pessimism plans for defeat and deterioration. Realism attempts to see past bias and represent actuality.

So, is Candide an optimist, as Voltaire slyly proposed, or is he more pessimist/ realist.

Candide’s conclusion on life, living, society, etc… is that we must “cultivate our garden.”

While by itself it does seem to have a rather optimistic tone, the line for me is much more realism than anything else.

Pessimism- definitely not the mode of Candide despite the unfortunate events that degrade and denigrate the characters because, the ending gives them what they all wanted throughout their journey.

Optimism- probably not considering that they end up content and they way they had “hoped” but, along the way got thrown around more than their fair share. Candide’s girl looses all beauty. The prize he had worked so hard for had become ugly and beaten by the troubles of the world.

Realism- my vote says yes. No, it is not realistic that your red sheep from El Dorado will show up floating beside you as a result of the pirate-who-conned-you-for-almost-everything-you-had’s ship being wrecked. Odd metaphors for reality still count as realism.

hope-fear-truth

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