Why do bad things happen to good people? A question often asked by...well, by just about everyone. It is a frequently asked question that philosophers and religious figures have tried to answer for centuries yet no one can pinpoint the answer. Candide is no doubt Voltaire's response to the answer given by some of the philosophers of his time. The philosophy discussed throughout the novel gives meaning to the story itself and contributes to and carries on throughout the entire story.
In the Baron's castle somewhere in Germany the main characters reside for a short time. Pangloss, the philosopher and teacher of the Baron's children, has a radical philosophy on life and passes it to his students. This philosophy doesn't help them …show more content…
Providing a simple explanation for Pangloss' optimistic philosophy that we live in the "best of all possible worlds" this quote appears in the first chapter of the story and sets up one of the main themes throughout the novel. It's basically the logic behind Pangloss' philosophy, though it makes no sense. It seems quite obvious that spectacles were designed to fit the nose and not the other way around. These are the first of many very illogical arguments to support his philosophy. As the novel progresses this philosophy goes under brutal attacks by the misfortunes the characters come across again and again throughout their lives. It also sets up the never-ending debate between those characters with the optimistic view and those with the pessimistic view. Voltaire uses Pangloss' philosophy to demonstrate a point. Because he so strongly opposes this philosophy it's a recurring theme in the novel.
The optimistic view is also the main example of satire from Voltaire in the novel and this is probably the purpose for writing the novel. It could be interpreted as his response to philosophers of the time, G.W. von Leibniz in particular. Leibniz claimed that because God is perfect, all good and all-powerful, He wouldn't create a less than perfect world; therefore, we live in the best of all possible worlds. Leibniz also said that evil is
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well…if hawks have always had the same nature, why should you pretend that mankind change theirs” (Voltaire, 74). Looking at this excess of disagreeable traits recognized by Candide, it is evident that he has already been subjected to evil in many different type of ways. Additionally, Martin’s plausible reply expresses a negative view of human nature that often results from facing many forms of wrongdoing. Another character in the story, Cunégonde, expresses similar disappointment in her experience when she talks about the optimistic philosopher, “Pangloss deceived me most cruelly, in saying that everything is for the best” (Voltaire, 26). However, a wise man, Dervish, reminds the reader that it is useless to consider where evil comes from.
Candide on the surface is a witty story. However when inspected deeper it is a philippic writing against people of an uneducated status. Candide is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truly irking, believing that this is the best of all possible worlds. Thus Voltaire uses a witty, bantering tale on the surface, but in depth a cruel bombast against the ignoramuses of his times.
Pangloss?s philosophy explains in a superficial way why so many bad things happen to Candide and other characters in the story. Because "everything is for the best of all possible worlds," the bad and evil eventually lead to something good and are necessary for the good to happen(p.519). Pangloss points this out to Candide at the end when he explains:
Voltaire’s Candide portrays an exaggerated image of human cruelty and suffering in the world. Specifically, Voltaire criticizes people’s lack of willingness to prevent suffering, and their tendency to accept the idea that there is nothing anyone can do about human outcomes. He upholds his belief that practical ways of solving problems generate improvement. He believes that human indifference and inaction cause suffering to carry on. Voltaire’s believes that naïve optimism, absolute pessimism, cruel indifference, and lack of reason hinder positive and constructive change.
Even though many people practiced this doctrine Voltaire did not aside with it instead, he implanted doubts on the chances of achieving true happiness and real conformism. Voltaire’s opinion was that one could not achieve true happiness in the real world but only experience it in an utopia. With the many hardships that Candide goes through ultimately leads him to abandon his attitude of optimism. Candide’s misfortunes and adversities often contrasted with his optimistic view on life. Noticeably, Voltaire uses this satirical piece as a way to criticize this exaggerated optimism. This tale as stated by William Bottiglia, “ Has had a great effect on modern writers who confront mankind’s inhumanity to fellow human beings by presenting the human condition absurdly, ironically, and humorously...” (Bottiglia 112).
In its time, satire was a powerful tool for political assault on Europe's corrupt and deteriorating society. Voltaire's Candide uses satire to vibrantly and sarcastically portray optimism, a philosophical view from the Enlightenment used to bury the horrors of 18th century life: superstition, sexually transmitted diseases, aristocracy, the church, tyrannical rulers, civil and religious wars, and the cruel punishment of the innocent.
In “Candide,” Voltaire’s satiric theme is broad and varied. Although the most interesting satire is the one on religion, especially the utopia in which Candide starts off the story in, the first in importance is philosophical optimism, specifically Pangloss’s philosophy which in the novel this philosophical optimism seems to represent mankind's overall and overused optimism as means to copping with tragedy or loss. Pangloss’s philosophy is both the most important point for debate among the novel’s characters and one of the main targets of Voltaire’s satire. Pangloss is inevitably humorous “Pangloss gave instruction in metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology" his character is very predictable and superficial, his so called doctrine on optimism which is voiced out repeatedly that even great evil leads to good is opposed gross absurdity with absurdity. "It is clear, said he, that things cannot be
In Voltaire’s Candide, we are taken by the hand through an adventure which spanned two continents, several countries, and to a multitude of adverse characters. The protagonist, Candide, became the recipient of the horrors which would be faced by any person in the 18th century. But Candide was always accompanied with fellows sufferers, two of which our focus will lay, Pangloss and Martin. In equal respects, both are embodiments of different philosophies of the time: Pangloss the proponent of Optimism and Martin the proponent of Pessimism. Each of the two travelers is never together with Candide, until the end, but both entice him to picture the world in one of their two philosophies. Throughout the story there is an apparent ebb and flow
During the period of Enlightenment, many philosophers began a new way of thinking. For philosopher Alexander Pope in An Essay on Man, Pope believed that, “Whatever is, is right” (L. 294), in that God is in control and every human being is a part of a greater design of God. Voltaire later challenged that belief in Candide with the idea that God does not produce order, but instead, we must produce it ourselves and use reason to give our lives meaning. Pope’s position is more optimistic, while Voltaire’s position takes on a pessimistic view in that it does not allow for the belief in some sort of higher purpose. Drawing from personal experience, Pope’s belief that we perceive troubles as troubles only because
In the story Candide, Voltaire uses the experiences of the character Candide and dialogue between characters to dispute the theory by other philosophers that "Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire). Voltaire believed that the society that he lived in had many flaws, flaws which are illustrated throughout the story. Voltaire uses satire to take aim at the military, religion, and societies' emphasis of physical beauty, to illustrate that we do not live in the best of all possible worlds.
Voltaire is not criticizing the idea of being rational but rather he is criticizing the way people determine rationality through the philosophies of Pangloss and Martin, while utilizing the character, Candide, to satirize their thoughts through a crude lens. Throughout the book, Voltaire emphasizes that Pangloss, a philosopher who
Voltaire's Candide is a short satirical novel based on the life, adventures, and ultimate enlightenment of the title character Candide. The novel was subtitled ironically, The Optimist, in reference to a type of philosophy prevalent in Voltaire's day, which the author found repellant. Candide is his answer to optimism as a philosophy. Likewise, Samuel Johnson's Rasselas presents a worldview (according to the philosopher Imlac) that at times appears to be somewhat stilted. Not as cynical or satirical as Candide, however, the hero Rasselas learns lessons about life that to a certain extent elude Voltaire's hero. This paper will show how Johnson's Rasselas learns to be satisfied with pursuing his vocation as prince and "administer [of] justice" (Johnson 197), while Voltaire's Candide learns that man is essentially doomed to suffer from his own folly and ignorance in the ironically dubbed "best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire 14).
The presentation explored how Voltaire satirized the idea of determinism and optimism- Enlightenment philosophies that were prevalent during his time. Determinism establishes that God sets a path for each person to follow regardless of their decisions and optimism establishes that all is for the best. Several events during Voltaire’s time lead to his disbelief of the philosophy such as the Lisbon Earthquake and the Seven Years War. Voltaire challenged these beliefs by attempting to show death and destruction throughout “Candide” and consequently showing philosophers such as Pangloss attempting to justify the events. The theme of determinism/ optimism is carried out throughoutthe novella in a satirical manner in order to show the public the absurdity of the