Monday, February 24, 2014

The Road to El Dorado

Romantic comedies are the bane of all successful relationships. Yet they are some of the most enjoyable forms of entertainment. Every ‘rom-com’ has the same formula; guy meets girl, there is some obstacle to overcome but they get together, some difference between the two breaks them up, they realize they’re perfect for each other and get back together, happily ever after. People keep watching, even though they become repetitive and predictable, solely for that happy ending. The movie always ends with a wedding or a reconciliation of the relationship with a hope for a future of endless bliss. That simply isn’t reality. Life is a constant flux, not everyone gets back with their first true love, sometimes the problem cannot be defeated. Because the movie always ends on the good, it implies that after the movie the couple will never fight again, their differences have been over come. Human relations work on the structure that it is constant work, there will be huge blown up arguments, and there will be perfect snuggling on the porch swing at dawn drinking coffee and enjoying each other’s company in silence. 
Voltaire is trying to show the constant balance of struggle and success. He has Pangloss with his eternal hope of a perfectly balanced world where with the bad always comes the good. “Come, sir, seat yourself; not only will we pay your reckoning, but we will never suffer such a man as you to want money; men are only born to assist one another” (Voltaire pg 27). He is the person who believes in the ‘rom-com’, because Candide is of good character he shall be provided  from other men and the world. Pangloss believes the couple will get back together because they belong together and a little bad in the relationship will end by them getting back together and living blissfully. Pangloss is the ‘rom-com’. He is the man that encourages his friend he will do great on the test he hasn’t studied for because he failed that last one. 
Then there is Martin, the eternal pessimist. He is the one who sits in suffering and points out the futile need for hope in other. He is the person that hopes the couple breaks up because love doesn’t exist anyway. He is that friend that would watch his friend search frantically for his car keys and say they probably fell down a well earlier. 
Neither accomplished anything. According to Pangloss, James saves a sailor, and should be rewarded with good. Yet the sailor does not return the favor and is striving once the cast aways reach land. “Honest James ran to his assistance, hauled him up, and from the effort he made was precipitated into the sea in sight of the sailor, who left him to perish, without deigning to look at him” (Voltaire pg. 45). While injured men pile around him, the sailor is imbibing and enjoying the company of a lady of the night. Pangloss simply just keeps on preaching the value of the good and does nothing to help while the evil sailor seems to be dancing among the injured, Pangloss is preaching and is just as bad. 
Martin is always expecting the worse and is often wise while Candide is constantly losing his fortune. Yet while Candide is searching for his true love, Cunegonde, he sits back and revels in Candide’s anguish. He sits on his heels and preaches the discouraging told-you-so mantra, content in his misery. 
Voltaire’s balance is in the Old Lady who’s father is the Pope. “A hundred times I was upon the point of killing myself: but still I loved life”(Voltaire pg 84). She points out that everyone has tales of woe, but they keep on living. Humans always strive for the happy ending or El Dorado, but they will never be content with that. The Old Lady has embraced the ups and down, the continual fight. There is no end to suffering or happiness, until death. Death is the final end of the movie. It is not a happy ending where all skip into the field of flowers. 
The characters in Candide cannot hole up and simply live on their little farm in complete bliss. Voltaire is doing a satire of his own satire. Life is not complete when you hole yourself up happily. Humans need to go out and live to prove they are alive. That is the human condition, constantly seeking a happy ending that humans will never achieve. The happy is the ‘life’ part and the end is ‘death’. A life death is not a realistic goal. Humans need to go out and experience each other to forever be surprised and challenged to test the limits of the sincerity and the cruelty of the world. That is the human condition to cause our own momentary suffering to see glimpses of occasional happiness. There is not perfect match in which life settles into bliss. The perfect lover will make his significant other mad again and vice versa, but they will not break-up because he was looking at another girl. They will work through the bad to reach the good and struggle for something that is still working. When it stops working the relationship is over, similar to life. When life gives up the ability to work it can only conclude in death. 

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