“All is Not for the Best”
struggle to survive in that world, and his need to ultimately come to terms with it. All people
experience the turmoil of life and must overcome obstacles, both natural and man-made, in order to
companion to Candide) calls the “convulsions of anxiety” and the “lethargy of boredom”" (Richter
137). After a long and difficult struggle in which Candide is forced to overcome misfortune to find
happiness, he concludes that all is not well (as he has previously been taught by his tutor, Dr.
Pangloss), and that he must work in order to find even a small amount of pleasure in life.
Pangloss. Candide is abruptly exiled from the castle when found kissing the Baron’s daughter,
Cunegonde. Devastated by the separation from Cunegonde, his true love, Candide sets out to different
“cause and effect” for everything. Candide is reunited with Cunegonde, and regains a life of prosperity,
people should not allow themselves to be victims. He sneers at naive, accepting types, informing us
things will get better. Even though the world is filled with disaster, Candide has an optimistic attitude
that he adopted from Dr. Pangloss’ teachings. In spite of his many trials, Candide believes that all is
optimism is “the mania of maintaining that all is well when we are miserable” (Voltaire 41). Candide’s
his opinion that passive optimism is foolish (Richter 134).
Candide eventually learns how to achieve happiness in the face of misadventure. He learns that
order to create such a society, man must do the following: love his fellow man, be just, be vigilant,
know how to make the best of a bad situation and keep from theorizing. Martin expresses this last
requirement for such a society succinctly when he says, “Let’s work without speculating; it’s the only
way of rendering life bearable” (Voltaire 77).
One of the last people that Candide meets in his travels is an old, poor Turkish farmer who
teaches Candide a lesson which allows him to come to terms with the world and to settle down
the name of a single mufti [advisor] or vizier [sultan]… I presume that in general those who
satisfied with sending the fruits of my garden there.” (Voltaire 76)
Upon learning that this man did not own “an enormous and splendid property” (Voltaire 76), but rather
happy with his life, and at that point Candide decides to build his own life around the principal of being
productive. He decides that all he needs to be happy is a garden to cultivate so that he, too, can keep
from the three great evils.
realizes that his former ambitions of finding and achieving a perfect state of happiness were fulfilled,
though his successes were not as great as he had wished. Instead, he has found happiness in a simple
way of life. He also learns that everything in life is not evil, which he perceived to be the case while
undergoing misfortunes. He also concludes that Dr. Pangloss was right all along, “everything is for the
Throughout the entire book, we observe Candide searching for happiness, sustained by his
dream of achieving that happiness. He believes, in his optimistic way, that he will find Cunegonde, his
true love, and Dr. Pangloss, his mentor, and all will be well. When Candide is reunited with both he
realizes that he was right not to lose hope. In essence, it was Candide’s optimism that keeps him from a
state of total dejection, maintaining his sanity during troubled times. Candide eventually achieves
happiness with his friends in their simple, yet full, lives. The book’s ending affirms Voltaire’s moral that
one must work to attain satisfaction. Work helps Candide overcome his tragedies and enables him to
live peacefully and in contentment. The message of Candide is: “Don’t rationalize, but work; Don’t
utopianize, but improve. We must cultivate our own garden, for no one is going to do it for us”
Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Richter, Peyton. Voltaire. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.
Tsanoff, Radoslav. Voltaire’s Candide and the Critics. California: Wadsworth Publishing
Company, Inc., 1966.
Voltaire. Candide. New York: Viking Publishers, 1976.