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Candide Essay, Research Paper

All for the best in the best of possible worlds The french author Fracois Arouet de Voltaire wrote the story “Candide” to satirize Gottfried William von Leibniz’s theory of optimism. Voltaire used satire and its techniques to highlight the evil and brutality of war and the world in general where men didn’t take action and just waited for their fate. Leibniz was a German philosopher and mathematician. He developed the idea that the world they were living in at the time was “the best of all possible worlds.” Leibnz believed that everything was already for the best, no matter how bad it seemed. In “Candide” Voltaire showed a world full of natural disasters and brutality. He also used contrast in the personalities of the characters to show that Leibniz’s philosophy should not be taken seriously. Leibniz’s theories were based on the idea that everything in the world was determined by fate. He theorized that God had the ability to pick from an infinite number of worlds, but he chose this world, “the best of all words”. Voltariei chose that quality of Leibniz’s philosophy to satirize, but Leibniz meant more then just that. He meant that God chose the best world available to him; unfortunately, it was a world that had evil. Voltaire wanted so much to make fun of Leibniz’s philosophy that he chose to satirize only the literal meaning of his philosophy.

To get his point across in “Candide”, Voltaire created the character Dr. Pangloss, who was a follower of Leibnz’s philosophy. Voltaire shows this in the beginning of the story by saying, “He proved admirably that there is no effect without cause and that, is the best of all possible worlds….(16)” Pangloss also said that everything had its purpose and things were made for the best. For example, the nose was created for the purpose of wearing spectacles (16). Because Candide was very young and naive at the time, he thought that Pangloss was the greatest philosopher in the world, but that belief was soon contradicted by what was happening in reality. The name Pangloss means ” all tongue” suggesting someone who is all talk, and takes no action. In this case, Leibniz’s philosophy acceptance of the evil of the world. As the story progresses even Pangloss loses faith in the Leibnizian philosophy. Pangloss suffered a great deal, but he still sticks to the philosophy to avoid contradicting himself. The story of “Candide” was written in part for entertainment purpose, but it was primarily written to satirize the views of Leibniz”s philosophy. Voltaire didn’t accep Leibniz’s view of the world, because he thought that something could be done about all of the evil in the world.


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