Reflecting on Voltaire’s Candide

Voltaire’s Candide makes a strong argument against optimism and this being the best of all possible worlds. I enjoyed how he presented his idea by telling Candide’s adventures and each chapter behaving as a body paragraph in his crusade to disprove optimism. I like this structuring format because it negated one of the significant problems with essays that can be dry to read. Voltaire does not run into this problem, though, as we are kept entertained by the bumbling idiocy of Candide mixed in with all sorts of jokes and political commentary. Nevertheless, we still get the overarching points and ideas through a less-than-direct way and give a human character to the argument, a blend of political satire and storytelling. This structure was my favorite part of the piece of writing.

About halfway through the book, the arguments started to get a bit old as Voltaire had made his points and given plenty of evidence. At this point, I had been convinced by Voltaire that he was right, and these other adventures Candide felt like overkill. So I looked for other questions raised by the book and whether he had given his answer to them. Questions like what the best of all possible worlds looks like? He answers this question with the need to cultivate a garden and live like those of El-dorado, which is an underwhelming answer. Personally, I would rather live in an imperfect world and be able to find the secrets of this world and improve and solve problems than live in a perfect world and garden like the people of El-dorado and have little to do as all is fine the way it is. This book was good at arguing against optimism but did not provide any further answers to the questions it raises.