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Whatever Is, Isn't Right Essay

1534 words - 7 pages

Whatever is, isn’t Right
In Voltaire’s poem, “The Lisbon Earthquake: An Inquiry into the Maxim,’Whatever is, is right,’” the most significant criticism he has against Pope is that Pope uses this idea of a perfect harmony and cosmic order as a way to hide the horrible truths of suffering. Voltaire is able to exploit Pope’s ideas by using visuals and imagery into suffering that Pope never addresses in his poem, “An Essay on Man”. Voltaire vocalizes his views on Pope by attacking his poem and gives the reader a graphic view of suffering with an overview of the Lisbon Earthquake that killed some 60,000 people. Voltaire Uses the earthquake as a way to back up his views of suffering using violent ...view middle of the document...

Here, Pope is suggesting humans to not look at the suffering as bad because in the end every indivdual plays their own role in the universe. Pope’s idea of divine harmony and that whatever is is right helps humans to cope with suffering. Overall, Pope is saying in his poem, humans should not ry to understand the divine order just accept the suffering because cosmic harmony has power over all human beings and each human plays an individual role in the universe.
In “The Lisbon Earthquake: An Inquiry into the Maxim,’Whatever is, is right’” Voltaire’s criticizes many of Pope’s ideas that go along with his idea of cosmic order and perfect harmony. The first critique Voltaire has is when he begins to take a stab at Pope for accusing humans of being prideful trying to understand suffering. “When groans , under such a load of woe, He is not proud, he only feels the blow” (206). Here, Voltaire addresses Pope saying that when humans suffer they aren’t being prideful trying to understand why bad things are happening. In reality they are groaning because of the tragedy they are enduring. Voltaire accuses Pope of not being able to understand suffering because he hasn’t known what it feels like to truly suffer, “But when like us Fate’s rigors you have felt, Become humane, like us you’ll learn to melt” (207). He is saying to Pope that when an individual endures suffering there is no comforting truth. Voltaire sees the destruction of the Lisbon Earthquake and combats Pope saying there is no comfort that can be found in a tragesty such as the earthquake that took the lives of 60,000 people.
Voltaire’s argument against Pope accusing humans of being prideful when trying to understand suffering is valid because Pope put in a position of suffering would wonder why he bad things are happening. Pope wants to look at suffering in a perspective that the cosmic harmony is working itself out but, Voltaire asks of Pope to see what good can be found from the deaths of so many. In such an occurrence Pope would “learn to melt” and see suffering rationally. Rethinking his perspective on accepting suffering as a greater good.
Voltaire later goes on to attack Pope’s belief that we may not understand why things happen, but to just accept them because it's for the greater good. Pope believes true happiness all depends on the perspective humans take on viewing suffering and Pope reasons that, “All discord, Harmony not understood; All partial Evil Universal Good:” (203). In this couplet Pope is reasoning that every individual plays a part in the whole of the universe. The suffering and prospering all plays a role in the universe’s plan. Voltaire refers to this with first bringing into question what reasons were there for so many people dying and suffering in the Lisbon earthquake, “Say, will you then eternal laws maintain, Which God to cruelties like these constrain?” (205). The earthquake that killed 60,000 people has no greater good in the end reasons Voltaire. “Say, will you...

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