“Knowledge vs. Ignorance”

Sophomore (College 2nd year) ・Education ・MLA ・3 Sources

Ignorance is described as a lack of sensory anxiety, memory, or perception of a person or something, such as information or evidence. In certain cases, insight is gained by schooling, schooling, perceiving, or, in certain cases, through experiences. Voltaire's short story "The Good Brahmin" explores his experience with an old Brahmin who challenges him to consider whether it is easier for a man to be naive and happy or intelligent and unhappy (Voltaire & Cuffe). This paper explores the prominently seen theme of “knowledge vs. Ignorance” in Voltaire’s short story “The Good Brahmin” as portrayed by the story’s characters Brahmin and the old Indian woman. The theme of knowledge vs. ignorance is widely portrayed by the character Brahmin, a wise man with a lively intellect as well as great wealth (Durant, 303). From the story, Brahmin’s also possess great learning having studied for forty years which indicates the fact that he is very knowledgeable as education is a source of knowledge (Voltaire). Brahmin’s thirst for knowledge is attributed to his massive efforts in trying to understand things around him through reading ancient books and his inquisitive nature and questions to his companions to satisfy his overwhelming curiosity as seen in the story. According to the story, Brahmin had a habit of using his pass time philosophizing which portrays the theme as seeking enlightenment on various subjects is what philosophy is all about.

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Also, Voltaire’s short story provides an insight into Brahmin’s efforts to understand some things such as what time and eternity are, or the origin of his thoughts. However, despite studying for more forty years and reading all ancient books he is unable to get answers, and as a result, Brahmin feels that his lack of knowledge on these matters can be considered as ignorance, hence, he is ignorant. However, this is not the case as his ability to think for himself and also question the world around him proves that he indeed is not ignorant since without knowledge people tend to lose their capacity to think for themselves. Moreover, it is clear that Brahmin is not content with remaining ignorant, however, having knowledge comes at a price and Brahmin's price is his happiness (Voltaire & Cuffe).

Depiction of the Theme through the Old Indian Woman

Brahmin’s neighbor is an ignorant old woman who has never reflected some of the problems tormenting Brahmin; however, due to her lack of knowledge, she is happy, unlike Brahmin (Durant, 304). The woman portrays this theme as she does not concern or at least bothered with the various life mysteries such as what eternity or time is as well as the source of her thought like in Brahmin’s case. To be ignorant in accordance to the story is have faith in the idea that some of life’s greatest questions remain unanswered till death. Therefore, the old Indian woman prefers to live in a state of complete ignorance as she does not seek knowledge and unlike, Brahmin her ignorance is the source of her happiness (Voltaire).

In conclusion, the short story “The Good Brahmin” authored by Voltaire explores the struggle that exists between knowledge and ignorance and which of the two results in a happier life. In the story, Brahmin is represented by Voltaire as enlightenment while the old Indian lady is the embodiment of the phrase that states, “Ignorance is bliss.” While both lack definite answers to the meaning of eternal life and the source of their thoughts, the old Indian woman is content with the simplistic way of life unlike in Brahmin who seeks greater understanding of things, hence, greater knowledge.

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A Reflection on the Writing Process

As I began writing the paper, my primary focus was learning how best to express my ideas effectively which I believed I delivered. This essay challenged me as it required a critical analysis of the authors work; however, it taught me the importance of having many drafts in the writing process as well as editing and revising the drafts to acquire a perfect paper since I discovered I had many errors.

I have tried to improve certain aspects of my writing, however; I continue to struggle with some aspects. Organizing my work remains to be a big hurdle which I have to overcome. Although I have made positive progress, I feel as if I have not fully succeeded in this area, but I am determined to improve on it. Moreover, up to date writing a thesis statement that is up to standard has been one of the hardest processes I have to go through but it is my hope am making progress. Regarding these issues, I would, therefore, like to request for feedback on the organization of ideas as well as on the thesis statement.

Works Cited

Durant, W. (1965). “The Story of Philosophy”. Simon and Schuster. Pp. 543

Voltaire, and Theo Cuffe. “The Story of a Good Brahmin”. 2002. Internet resource.

Voltaire (2004). “Story of a Good Brahmin”. Translated by H. I. Woolf. Retrieved From: http://www.k-state.edu/english/baker/english320/Voltaire-Story_of_a_Good_Brahmin.htm

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