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Candide – purposeful satire

For a reader to have a true understanding of Candide, they must know the purpose of Voltaire’s writing. Voltaire shows the flaws of Leibniz’, a German philosopher of Voltaire’s time, idea that the world they live in is the best of all possible worlds cause it is God’s creation through the use of satire. Voltaire uses Pangloss and a contrasting character, Martin, to point out the shortcomings in Leibniz’ philosophy. Voltaire creates Pangloss, a firm believer of Leibniz’ philosophy, to show the fool hness in Leibniz’ ideas.

While Martin is a pessimist that constantly shows Candide that the world is vicious and evil. Voltaire also uses events, such as the Lisbon earthquake and war to show that things are not always for the best. To make get his point clear in Candide, Voltaire creates the character Dr. Pangloss, an unconditional follower of Leibniz’ philosophy. Voltaire shows this early in the novella by stating, “He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause and hat, in this best of all possible worlds…. (1)” Pangloss goes on to say that everything has its purpose and things are made for the best.

For example, legs were created for the purpose of wearing stockings (2). Because of his “great knowledge,” Candide at this point a very naive and impressionable youth, regards Pangloss as the greatest philosopher in the world, a reverence that will soon be challenged by the harshness of reality. A contrast to the views of Pangloss is the character Martin. Martin, a pessimist, is a friend and advisor to Candide whom he pays to travel with him. Martin continuously tries to prove to Candide that there is little virtue, morality, and happiness in e world. When a cheerful couple is seen walking and singing, Candide tells Martin, “I would venture to lay a wager that they are very happy (67). ” Martin challenges that they are not happy, so Candide invites the couple to dine at his hotel. As the yo g girl, now found to be Paquette, tells her story, Martin takes pleasure in knowing he has won the wager. Another example of how Voltaire ridicules Pangloss’ optimistic philosophy is the mention of the Lisbon earthquake and fire.

Even though the disas us earthquake takes over 30,000 lives, Pangloss still upholds his philosophical optimism by stating, “For all that is is for the best… It is impossible that things should be other than they are(11)”. Pangloss’ philosophy said that the Lisbon earthqua was necessary in the course of nature, and there was a rationalization for the disaster. War is another evil which Voltaire satirizes in Candide. Voltaire uses the Bulgarians and their brutality as a basis for his satire on war. Candide is captured by the Bulgarians and is given a choice to be beaten 36 times by the regiment or be sh in the head.

Candide chooses to run the gauntlet. Instead of the thirty-six times he was to run the gauntlet, he made it only two until he pleaded to the Bulgarians to shoot him in the head. Another satire of war included in Candide is the Bulgarians burning of the Abarian village. Voltaire also shows his satire on war in that the Bulgarian soldiers do not just kill other people, they rape and dismember innocent women and children. In fact, Candide’s training as a soldier involved being brutalized d beaten. Voltaire uses this example to demonstrate the inhuman vulgarity of many belligerent groups.

He thought that this torture was cruel and unjustified. If this were the “best of all possible worlds,” innocent people would not be harmed, and viole peoples such as the Bulgarians would not exist. Although Candid was written partially for entertainment purposes the main objective of Voltaire is to mock the views of Leibniz’ philosophy. He achieved his goal of satirizing Leibniz by tearing apart Pangloss’ philosophy, using Martin as a contrast t Pangloss, showing the destruction caused by natural disasters, and the brutality of war.

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