Candide: an Analysis of the Way Candide's Views on Life Changes

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  • Topic: Candide, Best of all possible worlds, El Dorado
  • Pages : 5 (1738 words )
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  • Published : November 15, 2010
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The Character Candide changes to become a more sensitive and compassionate person and how he views life, which is important because it shows us how viewpoints and attitude can be affected by experience.

Candide is introduced to the story as an acquiescent youth with a simplistic view on life. His perception on reality has been formed from an overly optimistic theory explained by his friend and personal tutor Pangloss. The ultimate vision, which is Pangloss's theory, is extremely provincial in thought but the experience of those he teaches is exceedingly limited. This inexperience allows the hypothesis concerning “the best of all possible worlds” to influence Candide's mannerisms as well as his perceptions ultimately leading to Candide's confusion and dismay in other surroundings. When Candide is in the Castle of Westphalia, he does not have that many opinions because he does not have the experience to make conclusions about life and about how the world works. Instead Candide makes assumptions about life from what he thinks he knows. He was blinded by the optimism which was impregnated in him by Pangloss and therefore he could not comprehend the other obvious flaws which he had experienced but not noticed in the Castle of Westphalia. Candide's “effeminate” innocence, which ended up being the reason that he was kicked out of this perfect Westphalian world, ended up saving his life twice. It directly saved his life when the Bulgarian king spared him even though he fled the battle and it indirectly saved his life because if he had not left Westphalia he would have been most likely slaughtered by the raiders.

Panglossian theory was developed by Pangloss, who felt he needed to explain reason and taught metaphysico-theologo-cosmo-nigology which explained a backwards view of existence. Pangloss believed that there can be no effect without a cause and that “things cannot be different from where they are since everything exists for a purpose.” An example of this would be that noses were made to support glasses, therefore we have glasses. This idea was thrust upon Candide and molded his character which can be seen throughout all of his adventures in his decision making process and also in his naivete(Magill 277). The problem with Panglossian theory is that it doesn't actually deal with real life events. It doesn't have anything to do with the real world but instead with the metaphysical world which Candide doesn't experience. He never actually considers the direct causes of a specific event but is always able to reveal the initial cause and the final effect. This way of thinking effects Candide because he is honored to never identify the immediate cause of a problem. So, for the most part Candide is deceived in believing that Panglossian theory can be applied in real life circumstances. Candide accepts Pangloss's theory with out question because Pangloss is “ the greatest philosopher in the province and consequently in the world.” The effect of this theory on Candide's innocent mind foreshadows his dilemmas in the future. When Candide is thrown out of the Castle of Westphalia, he is forced to deal with real life tragedies such as war, syphilis, and an earthquake(Mason 265), When he encounters such negative experiences, he doesn't know how to react because all his life he has only known optimism or a belief that everything is for the best. Candide is for the first time encountering opposition to the Panglossian theory which has been his source of viewpoints up until he encounters these tragedies. Very effectively, these real life experiences annihilate the falsity of Panglossian Optimism. After Candide has been through all of these terrible things, he finds that the only thing that is going to keep him from faltering is hope, the hope that he will one day find Cunegonde and marry her. This is the friving force throughtout the play that keeps Candide from giving up. He is able to look past the disastrous that occurred because he...
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