Candide essay

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Dr. Pangloss and his philosophy form the primary focus of the satirical work by Voltaire. Dr. Pangloss is a teacher and a mentor to Candide who is raised by Boron Thunder-ten-tronckh in the Westphalia region of German. Candide among other students is made to believe by his teacher that the world is the best among all the other possible worlds. His theory of optimism suggests that everything that happens in the world occur for the best. Eventually, Candide is persuaded to accept his teacher’s beliefs and points of view about the world  (Voltaire, 1988). He acknowledges all of Dr. Pangloss teachings as the total truth. One evening, Boron finds Candide kissing his daughter and he sends him away from his home.

After this, Candide experiences one hardship after the other. Nevertheless, according to Pingloss’ belief, all was alright since it happened in the best of all possible worlds.  He joins the army where he is thoroughly mistreated and flees to Holland. While in that country, he meets Dr. Pangloss who has been reduced to a street beggar. During this time, Candide learns that most of the Baron’s family members were killed by soldiers. Pangloss had managed to instil in his students the belief that people were living in the best world and therefore he proposed that everything happened for the best even when not. For instance, he argued that the nose supported eye glasses where as stones helped to build palaces and castles in order to elaborate further on his assumptions about optimism (Voltaire, 1988, p. 45).

The theme of optimism is well highlighted in the book. According to how events unfold in the story, it is apparent that life disagrees with the carefully packed up metaphysical accounts such as optimism. This belief was found to be very harmful since its explanation defied even the same person who advocated for it. One of the people who suffered from the devout stand on optimism is Candide. However, he overlooked these abuses that he witnessed and went experienced without realizing that he had been enslaved by it. For example, after he is caught by Boron kissing his daughter, Boron slaps her and sends him away from his home. Although he loses close contact with Conegonde, he and is thrown out to live by himself, he just consoles himself by accepting that all happened for a good reason. 

Furthermore, when Pangloss and Candide inform the earthquake survivors about their belief of optimism, they are almost attacked by the angry masses. The people were not impressed by this argument since it denied them free will to choose what to do and what not to. The philosophy of optimism was just a fantasy of ideas about how things occur in the metaphysical world but not practical in the real world. As a matter of fact, the old woman’s story gave more proof that criticized and ridiculed belief on optimism. Later on, it is found out that, even Candide came into realization that this belief could be flawed. This happens after the woman shares her story with him. He expresses doubts on the possibility of Pangloss’ theoretical framework of ‘best world’ (Voltaire, 1988, p 23).  He actually admits that Pangloss’s argument might be erroneous. 

Use of Symbolism in the Passage

Gardens are found in several important parts of the passage. First, Candide is banished from Boron’s home and garden after he is spotted kissing with Cunegonde. His expulsion from Boron’s garden and home symbolises the story from the Garden of Eden in the bible. Moreover, in El Dorado, Candide comes across remarkable natural outlook that exceeds the beauty found in Boron’s residence (Voltaire, 1988, p 76).  This represents a transitory session of his life. Afterwards, Candide is found to buy a piece of land where he commits himself to work on a garden. One of the quotes from the book displays this well, “…sending there for sale the fruits of the garden which I cultivate” (Voltaire, 1988, p 166).  This is an illustration of how he changed his satisfaction that was grounded from his earlier beliefs and ends up in full engagement to the environment. Also, this change is symbolic in that, it represents his change of way of living as well as his philosophical life. The fact that Candide finally ends up cultivating his own garden can be viewed in a symbolic manner. It is taken as a futile attempt to reinstate the virtuousness that he lost during his long period of suffering. “Candide was possessed of money and jewels, and though he had lost one hundred large red sheep” (Voltaire, 1988, p 98).   The red sheep is also used as a symbol of uniqueness whereby it represents the sheep that remained among others which were stolen.

Use of Irony in the Passage

Most of the events that take place in Candide can appear exaggerated. Nevertheless, this technique was used to ridicule someone or something in the passage with an intention of disgracing it. For instance, when Dr. Pangloss remains unmoved by forces that try to shake his belief, he remains adamant even when things go in the wrong way. “…Candide was walking out, he met a beggar, all covered with scabs, his eyes sunk in his head” (Voltaire, 1988, p 66).   It is quiet ridiculous that even when he suffers from syphilis, he still regards his condition as one that happened for a good reason. He believes that his health condition concurs with his belief of being in best condition in the best possible world. However, it is ridiculous that he opts to beg in the streets in order to earn a living. There are other areas in the passage where irony is applied. This occurs when Candide ends up denouncing the very belief which he held on to so much. It is surprising to find that Candide could abandon his devout belief which he advocated for and even suffered physically.


This is a style used in literature work which involves choice of specific words that are different to others. It helps to generate different reactions from the reader. This style is depicted in the following sentences “…There he was made to wheel about” (Voltaire, 1988, p 8). The author has used this description to give a better illustration of the ill-treatment that Candide received. Another example is found in “…with the violence of the blow, the tar himself tumbled headforemost” (Voltaire, 1988, p 16). It is an illustration that depicts the black complexion of the person being referred to.

The author of the book uses this passage to attack and disregard useless and unrealistic metaphysical assumptions of optimism on things that are unknown. He actually uses Dr. Pangloss’s life to signify how his way of living is unreasonable. Pangloss and his students, just like other people, find it challenging to apply what they believe in their day to day lives. He applies various themes and styles to help in bringing out his intended message about the world and man’s significance in it.

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