Voltaire's Candide seems to display a world of horror, one filled with floggings, rapes, robberies, unjust executions, disease, natural disasters, betrayals and cannibalism. Pangloss, the philosopher, has a constant optimistic view throughout the entire novel even despite all of the cruelty in the world. While looking back on the book I couldn't think of many characters that displayed admirable qualities. Even though Pangloss stuck to his views that everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds, which is admirable, he is stupid and naive to still believe this after everything he and his family goes through. It was quite hard for me to find admirable characters within Voltaire's Candide, all of the characters seemed to do harm to one another in some way. Although as soon as James or Jacques, the Anabaptist, is introduced to us he seems different then any other character so far.
Most of the people Candide meet throughout his journey are mean and cause him harm but Jacques is kind right from the beginning. In Chapter three Jacques carries Candide, someone who he had never met, into his home, washed him, gave him food and employs him in his rug factory. Jacque?s kindness revives Candide?s faith in Pangloss?s theory that everything is for the best in this world. Candide was so moved by Jacques he threw himself to his feet and cried, ?Now I am convinced that my master Pangloss told me truth when he said that everything was for the best in this world; for I am infinitely more touched by your extraordinary generosity... ? (Ch. 3 Pg. 19).
Jacques seems to be the only good-natured character in the whole book. His actions are kind and most admirable. Jacques finds a doctor to cure Pangloss, who loses an eye and an ear to syphilis. He even hires Pangloss as his bookkeeper and takes Candide and Pangloss on a business trip to Lisbon. Jacques disagrees with Pangloss?s belief that this is the best of worlds and claims that ?men have somehow corrupted Nature.? He said God never gave men weapons, but men created them ?in order to destroy themselves.?
Mankind, must in some things have deviated from their original innocence; for they were not born wolves, and yet they worry one another like those beasts of prey. God never gave then twenty-four pounders nor bayonets, and yet they have made cannon and ba...
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...sery (Ch. 12 Pg. 50).
Out of all of the characters Candide came across only Jacques and the Old Woman had truly admirable qualities. The Old Woman only really seems admirable because she has endured and survived so much cruelty in her life. She is strong and still decided to live life even though it has been so horrible. She is wise and has learned from her awful experiences. If it wasn?t for this I don?t think she would be seen as admirable. Jacques, the Anabaptist, helped anyone that needed it, whether he knew them or not. Even in a world full of betrayal and evil he wants to take the chance and reach out to those who need help. He cares for Candide, without even knowing him, he gives employment to both Candide and Pangloss, and he even saves a sailors life that he never met before. His death shows how good does not win out in the end and despite his kindness to the sailor he in turn does not reach out and give Jacques the same courtesy. Unfortunately, the only true admirable person in the book dies so soon into it. He was the only hope we saw that Candide?s world had.
Voltaire. Candide. 1759. Ed. Henry Morley. New York, New York: Fine Creative Media, 2003.
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