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Night: Injurious Effects Of Optimism Essay

1184 words - 5 pages

Voltaire, a famous French Enlightenment philosopher, once said, “Optimism is the madness of insisting that all is well when we are miserable.” Essentially, Voltaire is saying that everything seems to be fine, but in reality it is not and never will be. Voltaire’s ideas are reflected in Elie Wiesel’s Night. In his memoir, Wiesel, his father, and a community of Jews believe that the Germans will never reach their small Transylvanian village of Sighet. However, on the third day, the Germans arrive and begin deporting Jews to an unknown location. During this period, the Jews believe that they are being sent away for their own good, but later realize it was all just an illusion. The Jews were placed into cattle wagons and were sent off on a long and horrific ride. Their final destination was Auschwitz-Birkenau. The remainder of the memoir focuses on Wiesel and his father’s struggle for survival. Wiesel’s chronicle can be read as an extended example of the effects of optimism.
Wiesel makes the injurious effects of optimism apparent through the Jew’s acceptance of the Germans in their town. The Jews of Sighet are worried about their lives due to anti-Semitic incidents that happen daily in the Romanian capital of Budapest. The Jews believe that “[T]he Germans won’t get as far as this [Sighet]” (7). Wiesel provides the Jews with a sense of hope that everything will eventually turn out fine. Hope is the belief that circumstances in the future will be better. It is not a wish, but an actual belief. Hope is sometimes associated with denial. For instance, the Jews had a false hope that the Germans will never come to Sighet. Moments later, after the Jews stop talking about their fear of the Germans, Wiesel states “[B]efore three days had passed, German army cars had appeared on our streets” (7). Wiesel implements juxtaposition to articulate to the reader the effects of optimism. Wiesel places these phrases together to show the reader that sometimes optimism can result in a contradictory belief. Optimism has the power to blind people from seeing the bad, and allows them to see only the good.
Later in the memoir, the Fascist party gains power in Romania, and the German soldiers occupy the city of Sighet and billet Jewish homes. Wiesel states that the verdict for the Jews has already been pronounced, and “[Yet] the Jews of Sighet continued to smile” (8). The reader should see that Wiesel uses a somewhat of a naïve tone to describe the attitude of the Jews. Optimism blinds people from seeing the true outcome of a situation. Wiesel acts upon the idiom “ignorance is bliss” to describe the Jews. Optimists believe that not knowing is better than knowing and worrying. All of these horrific situations, including the Fascists gaining control of Romania, and the German soldiers occupying Sighet have not worried the Jews. The Jews believe that they do not want to know what faith has in store for them. The Jews of Sighet are optimistic about...

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