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’ philosophy was significant because it led Candide to begin to rely on reason rather than faith, acknowledge the existence of evil, and replace passivity with positive action, while simultaneously demonstrating to the reader the importance of doing so. Following a brief explanation of Pangloss’ philosophy, this will be illustrated by examining several of the conflicting incidents Candide experienced and the impact his loss of faith had on both him and the reader. Before considering what led Candide to lose faith in Pangloss’ philosophy, it is important to briefly consider what Pangloss’ philosophy entailed. Critically, Pangloss was essentially a parody of the philosopher Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, who had published a work titled Théodicée in 1710, addressing the problem of evil in a universe divinely planned by a benevolent God. In it, he argued that the world was imperfect, as it was made of matter, but it was nonetheless the best of all possible worlds, as it was created by a compassionate God. ... ... middle of paper ... ...e of positive action on all levels, a lesson Candide was at last beginning to grasp. Bibliography Adams, Robert M. “Summary: The Intellectual Backgrounds.” In Candide: Second Edition, edited by Robert M. Adams, 79-84. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1991. Mason, Haydn. “Gestation: Candide Assembling Itself.” In Candide: Second Edition, edited by Robert M. Adams, 99-112. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1991. Voltaire. Candide: Second Edition. Translated and edited by Robert M. Adams. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1991. Voltaire. “Well, Everything is Well.” In Candide: Second Edition, edited by Robert M. Adams, 84-9. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1991. Wade, I. O. “Voltaire and Candide.” In Candide: Second Edition, edited by Robert M. Adams, 144- 153. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 1991.

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