Candide essay

Submitted By caldhamilton
Words: 651
Pages: 3

Voltaire’s Candide is a piece of genius satire that is relatable to nearly any era

of the world, especially in today’s world. It is a great comment on the political and

social state that our world seems to always be struggling with. While the characters

of the story believe that this is the “best of all possible worlds, it is clear that Voltaire

does not agree with that statement. He employs a clever use of satire to show just

how disgusting the world truly is.

Starting with Pangloss’ philosophy “that there is no effect without a cause”

and that we live in the “best of all possible worlds,” (4) to the Bulgarian assertion

that their king is the “best of kings” (7), Candide criticizes the human race, our

hubris, our optimism, and nearly all of our customs, including love; mocking that “it

was love; love, the comfort of the human species, the preserver of the universe, the

soul of all sensible beings, love, tender love.” (14)

Pangloss’ optimism seems ridiculous in many situations. Even as he was

severely ill with syphilis, he manages to look on the bright side by telling Candide

that once again, “all is for the best” because the disease can be traced back to

Christopher Columbus’ trip to the New World. (15) Pangloss is determined that

“things cannot be otherwise than as they are; for all being created for an end, all is

necessarily for the best end. Observe, that the nose has been formed to bear

spectacles–thus we have spectacles.” (4) This kind of philosophy is that of Leibnitz

and Pangloss was dedicated to those ideas. When Candide asked if he doubted his

philosophies after everything he had been through, Pangloss responded by telling

him that “I am still of my first opinion… for I am a philosopher and I cannot retract,

especially as Leibnitz could never be wrong; and besides, the pre-established

harmony is the finest thing in the world, and so is his plenum and material subtilis.”

Amidst his absurd optimism, at least Pangloss has the sense to know that

“they who assert that all is well have said a foolish thing,” but he still thinks “they

should have said all is for the best” (4). Nothing is ever really “well” in the world: we

are plagued by war, disease, and other various maladies. Candide maintained the

idea that “all is for the best” even after seeing thousands dead when fighting for the

Bulgarians, being held as