Candide and Pangloss

Updated August 12, 2022

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Candide and Pangloss essay

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Candide written by Voltaire {real name was Francois-Marie Arouet} was a French Enlightenment writer, historian, and philosopher. Voltaire was famous not only for his book Candide but for his criticism and stabbing of Christianity mostly the Roman Catholic Church, etc. Candide was published January 1759 in Geneva Paris, it was written between July and December of 1758. Our teacher assigned us, Candide, because A) Voltaire was a French Enlightenment writer, and B) it showed the insight of what happened in that time period the 16th century. This book is sort of useful in our course of study because it turns a time where change started to happen into a little fictional story/novel. Candide has a lot of useful information dealing with The Enlightenment through the 17th and 18th centuries. Candide also mentions some level of corruption of the Roman Catholic Church and the army.

“Voltaire believed above all in the efficacy of reason. He believed social progress could be achieved through reason and that no authority—religious or political or otherwise—should be immune to challenge by reason.”1 Voltaire most likely wrote Candide to show the world or naive people the horrors peasants would go through or corruption there is in the world. Things needed to change for the greater good and everything was not alright. Many events influenced Voltaire to write Candide one major event was the Lisbon Earthquake of 1755 this occurred in the kingdom of Portugal. This earthquake followed by the tsunamis killed 60,000 people and destroyed around a couple thousand buildings. After the shipwreck with Candide and Pangloss, they wash up to a town in ruins from the earthquake scavenging for food to survive. The Seven Years War was also another event that helped influence the creation of Candide. The Seven Years War or French and Indian War from 1754 to 1763 involving Every great European power at the time EX: France Britain etc.

The Seven Years War ended with The Treaty of Paris in 1763. When Candide is in battle Voltaire mocks the army by calling them heroes while describing the explicit and violent act the soldiers are doing. Candide was a satire comic and novel meant to give enlightenment to real-world issues while keeping the reader interesting. In Candide government, Philosophy, science, and many more controversial topics back then were mocked which reached out to the public in this way Voltaire was able to inform and entertain the audience. The type of audience Candide is meant for was the somewhat educated but naive people in Europe then as the book spread for everyone. Due to the Roman Catholic Church banning the production of Candide more and more people were compelled to get their hands on it to see why it was banned. This helped spread Voltaire’s opinions and thoughts giving him popularity and a voice people would listen to. Voltaire gets his views off in Candide very easily at some points and at others it’s very hard to notice he does it in a jokingly manner most of the time to keep people hooked in. Trying to comprehend what Voltaire’s ideas or point of view it is somewhat challenging due to it being three centuries old it’s written differently than usual assigned books. Some ideas Voltaire tried to get across through Candide was mocking philosophers some of their beliefs were idiotic. “Candide learns the principles of optimism from his mentor, Pangloss, and one of the central tenets of his philosophy is that ‘since everything was made for a purpose, everything is necessarily for the best purpose.’ Voltaire satirizes this philosophy by showing its absurdity through hyperbole.”2

Some key themes in Candide are violence in the 17th and 18th centuries, the Enlightenment obviously, love, and philosophy vs different beliefs and mocking religion a little. Voltaire put topics and moments of enlightenment in Candide so people can open their minds to new topics to push society forward since not everyone was as smart as him. In Candide, Candide is constantly chasing his love Cunegonde and when he finally gets reunited she is old withered down and stuck with her. The violence in this novel is gruesome women getting raped dismembered and cut into pieces in chapter three “there several young virgins whose bodies had been ripped open after they had satisfied the natural necessities of the Bulgarian heroes.”3 throughout the whole entire book people are killed in gruesome ways like the Baron Cunégonde’s brother when he says Candide cannot marry his sister Candide stabs him. Voltaire makes a mockery of religion and philosophy in Candide one being the concept of main characters dying and coming back. Another like mentioned before is Pangloss belief that everything happens for the best outcome. When Pangloss tells Candide he has syphilis he says it was meant to be because if Columbus never raped so many Indians and brought it to Europe they would have never had chocolate. Throughout the whole book, Pangloss keeps insisting that everything bad happening is the best possible choice for example when Candide and Pangloss wash up ashore after a shipwreck.

From hearing a summary I thought it would be an amazing novel but slowly reading it, it was confusing making it a novel I wouldn’t recommend to kids, at least kids who aren’t in high school. For a book that is over one hundred pages, it would be a somewhat fast pace but everything is crammed together as if Voltaire rushed it. At the beginning of the book, we meet our protagonist Candide who lives in a castle he steals a kiss from a girl who lives in the castle as well Cunegonde gets caught and gets kicked out. Seems simple enough but the actual reading of the first chapter isn’t. Another example when Candide walks away from the Bulgars army and gets punished he somehow survives his punishment and walks away from battle again. Re-reading the second chapter you understand that but the first time reading through it is confusing. Most of the chapters are set up the same way it could be the way it is written or the translation or both. One paragraph you’ll be in one area in the next paragraph you will be in completely different scenery. It’s a novel where you have to re-read it more than once if you don’t understand some references and obviously do some research to understand. My reaction before reading Candide was excited and a little bit nervous because it’s my first essay on a book but the book was short. While reading Candide I found myself lost a couple of times to where I would have to go back a page or to sometimes a whole chapter.

In my opinion, if I annotated it would have made the book a lot easier going back so anyone who reads Candide in the future I recommend to annotate. Voltaire has for the most part after reading the book many times fulfilled his purpose in Candide which in my opinion was to get his ideas and opinions out to the public. The themes weren’t really hard to notice but constantly reading it with the same knowledge made me think in different ways to wear something I didn’t notice before would pop up. What I found really interesting about Candide was how much detail was put into such a small book. Yes, it seemed rushed since everything is just crammed together but the details in the chapters and the dialogue between the characters seems like Voltaire but a lot of effort into such a small book. Yes, it could be because it was written in the 1700s where everything was different from writing to slang to vocabulary and grammar. Now the things found that wasn’t as interesting or some negative points are, of course, its meant for an older audience yes a lot is understandable but reading through it it was a little confusing. Reading Candide wasn’t in my opinion worth the time to read due to at the time it was assigned a lot of assignments started to flow in like projects, tests, and other essays. If fewer assignments came in from other subjects I felt like it would have been worth my time to go even more in-depth Candide and this essay. Kids who are incredibly talented in managing their time would have an easy time doing the reading and essay but kids who have somewhat trouble would be stressed out a lot. Doing research a lot of people who read Candide whether in English or in French seemed to like the book but none of them seem to be a freshman most are adults.

Candide and Pangloss essay

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Candide and Pangloss. (2022, Jun 22). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/candide-and-pangloss/


How does Candide reject Pangloss philosophy?
His experiences in the real world directly contradict Pangloss's optimism . In reality, the world is a terrible place full of evil, cruelty and suffering. Thus, Candide and the reader are forced to reject optimism. Still, the novel does not conclude in favor of absolute pessimism either.
What did Pangloss teach Candide?
His mentor, Pangloss, teaches him that their world is “the best of all possible worlds.” After being banished from his adopted childhood home, Candide travels the world and meets with a wide variety of misfortunes, all the while pursuing security and following Cunégonde, the woman he loves.
What does Pangloss represent in Candide?
Pangloss, like the majority of the main characters in Candide, symbolizes an ideology and a way of life . Pangloss's absolute Optimism is a mockery of the philosophy of an Enlightenment thinker named Leibniz.
What happens to Pangloss in Candide?
Pangloss is hanged , but Candide survives, helped by an old woman. The old woman cleans and feeds Candide, and then takes him to Cunégonde, who survived the brutal attack on the baron's family.
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