If a person experiences tons of tragedies, then, can the person still have hope for tomorrow? The answer is probably no. When people lose everything without themselves, how do they think to live for tomorrow? A novel tells the answer to these: Candide, written by Voltaire, is a novel about the life of a man named Candide, and it tells about his changing mind through his experiences. First, Candide strongly believes in optimism because his professor named Pangloss teaches him the lesson. However, through his poor experiences, his mind gradually leaves from optimism. At the end, Candide considers that working is the most important thing to live meaningfully. Candide is a black comedy because it contains the claim of optimism, it has sarcasm for being innocent, and it has irony about countries’ cultures.
First of all, Candide contains the claim of optimism. Candide believes both love for Cunégonde and words from his professor named Pangloss. According to Pangloss’s lesson, “that things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being end, all is necessarily for the best end” (1). This lesson is called optimism, and it is a way of thinking that God created the earth, so everything He created is the best. Candide strongly believes the professor’s lesson, even though he has a lot of terrible experiences after being kicked out from the castle due to banishment for kissing Cunegonde who is the daughter of the baron. However, he gradually wonders about what happiness is.
When he knows about Cunegonde’s background, he decides to deny optimism. Also, when he meets with an old man who is satisfied with his life, Candide changes his mind that working is the most important thing to live a better life. What the old man says is, “I and my children cultivate them: our labour preserves us from three great evils – weariness, vice, and want” (86). This mind is a revolutionary idea in the era when the author writes the book, and the author’s idea is very different from most people’s opinions. He writes it putting in his criticism for optimism. After Candide wandered all over the world, and experiences thousands of terrible happenings, he finally reaches to the word, “but let us cultivate our garden” (87). The word touches as if it is fresh air to the readers. This may be because a lot of desire happens until before the last, and it is the moment Candide breaks out his question about what happiness is. Thus, Candide comments on optimism at the end because he wants everyone to know his opinion through his story.
Second, Candide contains sarcasm for being innocent. When Candide banishes to outside of the castle, he is naïve because he is always with Pangloss and stays in the castle. Through what Candide experiences, he feels awfulness for humans and the world. As it is mentioned above, he determines optimism is wrong. At the last, Pangloss asks Candide, “There is a concentration of events in this best of all possible worlds” and, “if you had not lost all sheep from the fine country of El Dorado: you would not be here eating preserved citrons and pistachio-nuts” (87). These words would consider as Pangloss’s opinion that it is not his responsibility even though it would be his responsibility not to teach Candide the real things in the world. Surely, it is important not to forget to have a pure mind. However, does being innocent mean not knowing the dark side of the world? Would it say Candide is doing all right because he is pure? The author questions the readers about what is innocent and pure really means. In short, Candide lampoons about being innocent through the story.
Thirdly, Candide contains irony about countries’ cultures. In the story, Candide wanders all over the world. While he roams around, the reader can tell the backgrounds of countries. This happens for example, when he goes to France “where there appears to be enough concerned, all the rest if the time is passed in impertinent quarrel; Jansenist against Molinist, Parliament against the Church, men od letters against men of letters, courtesans against courtesans, financers against the people, wives against husbands, relatives against relatives – it is eternal war” (60). Candide describes other perspectives of French culture negatively. Also, when he goes to the UK, he sees that three men hold down and shot a man. In the book, it describes this as, “in this country it is found good, from time to time, kill one Admiral to encourage the others” (64). After seeing it, Candide blanches because people who are there are satisfied a man is to be killed. He criticizes both countries’ cultures through people’s behavior in each country, and the way of describing is not to compliment these cultures, but to say these with sarcasm. Therefore, Candide describes the satire in the countries’ background.
Some people may say that being innocent is totally fine, and they do not know what the black element is. Thus, Candide is not a black comedy. Actually, being innocent itself is a very good thing, and the problem is whether the person has an understanding for the real or not. Some parents in Japan are called monster parents. This is because they are crazy about raising their children “innocent”. When their children have problems, the parents come to their school and argue instead of their children. The reason why they come and argue is they believe it is better not to show awful parts in the world to their children, and some children are raised as their parents believe. However, it means these parents raise people just like Candide. In the story, he kills a person. He thinks he does the right thing, but can it really be so? Hence, Candide is a black comedy because the author makes the sarcasm about what being innocent truly means through the entire novel.
In conclusion, Candide is a black comedy because it shows criticism for optimism, irony for being innocent, and it lampoons about countries’ negative backgrounds. This book contains both humor and emptiness. As it is mentioned above, some parents are called monster parents in Japan. Is what they do for their children really good for them? Sometimes, there are times that it cannot be helped even though it is not the person’s fault. How will they grow up not knowing what is real? Candide would tell us what we should think of to live happily tomorrow.
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