The Grin That Apes A Smile Essay

, Research Paper “Optimism, n. The doctrine, or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly, everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by

, Research Paper

“Optimism, n. The doctrine, or belief that everything is beautiful, including what is ugly,

everything good, especially the bad, and everything right that is wrong. It is held with greatest tenacity by

those accustomed to the mischance of falling into adversity, and is most acceptably expounded with the

grin that apes a smile. It is hereditary, but fortunately not contagious,” writes Ambrose Bierce in The

Devil’s Dictionary. Optimism is more traditionally known as the belief that everything will get better, and

that all things are for the best. Unfortunately for the characters of Candide, nothing ever works out for the

best, despite the great optimism they exhibit. As a result, they become sophisticated enough to accept

things as they are. Optimism cannot survive in the real world.

The impracticality of optimism is exhibited in many different characters and events throughout the

book. To begin with, Voltaire makes constant sardonic references to the phrase “all is for the best,”

throughout the narrative. In just four pages, he is able to use this phrase four times when describing the

horrible events that happen to Candide. Also, the idea of optimism is shown to be unrealistic when the Old

Woman states that everyone thinks they have the worst life in the world. This makes the point that one

cannot be optimistic when there is so much suffering going on around them. Additionally, optimism is

proven to be illogical when Candide is finally able to marry his love, Cunegonde, after spending much time

and money questing to be with her. By the time he gets her, she is ugly and unwanted by Candide, thus

making the entire quest for her unnecessary, and his optimism at the fact that he would soon be with her

unwarranted. Moreover, the impracticality of optim!

ism is shown when Pangloss changes from being a optimist to a realist. By doing this, Pangloss shows how

quickly optimism can be destroyed by misfortune. In addition, optimism is shown to be a nonrealistic idea

through the characterization of Martin, the pessimistic philosopher. Martin’s pessimism in the book is the

only constant, while the other characters are constantly on an emotional roller-coaster. Thus, Martin is the

most stable character in the book, proving that pessimism is more practical than optimism when one has to

deal with reality. Finally, the impracticality of optimism is shown when Candide decides, rather than

continue to hope for the best, to accept reality as it is, and tend his garden. When he does this, he proves

that the only practical way to deal with life is to accept the things that happen to you, rather than to hope for

the best out of every situation.

Many bad things happen to the good people in the book Candide. Even though they have

seemingly inexhaustible amounts of optimism, things never get better for any of them. Because of this,

they eventually wise up and begin to accept things as they are, rather than wanting to have things as they

should be. In doing this, they destroy their impractical and destructive optimism for a more useful

philosophy of life.