In Candide, is Candide better or worse off at the end of the novel than at the beginning when he lived in a castle?
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The message of the story clearly states that philosophical speculation only leads to frustration and sadness in life. The way in which Pangloss and his student, Candide, seek to view everything through a philosophical lense prevents them from seeing what is going on around them clearly. In addition, it also acts as an inhibitor, because those characters trying to view the world philosophically miss out on the opportunities to change what is happening around them. For example, Pangloss prevents the saving of Jacques from drowning because he spends the crucial moments when Candide could have saved Jacques by arguing that "the bay of Lisbon had been formed expressly for this Anabaptist to drown in." Finally, although Candide ends up on a farm, the way he exchanges philosophical speculation for honest hard work finally shows that he has achieved happiness by rejecting philosophy. Note how he responds to the final words of Pangloss where he attempts to argue that everything has worked out for the best:
That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden.
The message of Candide is clear: idleness and free time which can be spent on frivolous philosophical thought only brings with it an intense dissatisfaction. The only source of happiness, Voltaire argues, is hard work. It is this that demonstrates Candide at the end of the novel is in a far better place than he was at the beginning.
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