Analytical Awakening: Voltaire's Candide

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Voltaire’s satirical novella Candide tells the story a young man who, having been raised in a secluded utopia and educated in philosophical optimism, is suddenly thrust into the world and forced to make sense of the evil and suffering around him that he has always been taught to reason away. As his journey progresses and he encounters numerous horrors, Candide increasingly struggles to accept his tutor’s theory that all is for the best, and it ultimately becomes apparent that he has lost faith in his tutor’s philosophy. I argue that Candide’s gradual loss of faith in his tutor, Pangloss, was the result of the contradictions he increasingly observed between Pangloss’ philosophy and his lived experiences. This loss of faith in Pangloss’…show more content…
While Candide initially tried his hardest to make his experiences fit into the paradigm that all was for the best, it grew increasingly difficult for him to do so, until he ultimately reached the point where he could no longer reconcile his preconceived optimistic beliefs with his own lived experiences.
While examples of this conflict between Pangloss’ philosophy and Candide’s experiences are numerous in Candide, it will be useful to consider a few of the most significant in order to observe Candide’s gradual loss of faith in his tutor. As mentioned, throughout his journey Candide attempted to reconcile his experiences with the theory that all is for the best, and in his early instances, he succeeded. When Jacques— the kind man who had taken in Candide and Pangloss— was thrown overboard during a storm, for example, Pangloss stopped Candide from rescuing him by explaining that it was for the best and “proving that the bay of Lisbon had been formed expressly for this Anabaptist to drown in.” Here, Candide accepted Pangloss’ explanation with virtually no resistance.
Significantly, not long after this incident Candide was separated from Pangloss, and it was in the wake of this separation that Candide began to struggle with Pangloss’ explanations for the horrors he witnessed. To be sure, he still tried his hardest to make them fit— in nearly every situation Candide encountered, he made reference to Pangloss’ teachings and considered how Pangloss would

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