What does Rasselas by Samuel Johnson say that happiness is?

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Rasselas is an exploration of the quest for happiness. Rasselas wants to leave the sheltered Happy Valley, where has lived all his life. He finds its amusements vacuous and hopes to find out more about happiness by traveling to places like Egypt.

Rasselas learns that happiness is an elusive state, almost impossible to find either in or out of the Happy Valley. When he is feeling envious of the Europeans, for example, Imlac, often regarded as the voice of Johnson in the book, tells him:

"The Europeans," answered Imlac, "are less unhappy than we, but they are not happy. Human life is everywhere a state in which much is to be endured, and little to be enjoyed."

The text, however, does locate two sources of possible happiness. First, one must avoid solitude and isolation to be happy. Second, doing all things in moderation is key to the quest for happiness. Knowledge can bring happiness to humankind, but the pursuit of knowledge can lead to misery, as it can cause isolation.

All in all, the text...

(The entire section contains 3 answers and 654 words.)

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