Candides Journey

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Throughout Candide by Voltaire, the main character, Candide, introduced at the beginning of the novel as a young innocent naïve man, goes through many journeys along the way maturing him as a whole. Two out of three guides, Pangloss and Martin, taught him very important philosophies about life, questioning Candide, if he believes them and if he will follow them or not.

Throughout Candide’s childhood he is nurtured with the philosophy of “everything is for the best”. Mastor Pangloss exemplifies Leibniz’s philosophy of optimism. This philosophy focuses on the idea that everything happens for a reason and this world must be the best of all worlds. During Candide’s life he related the idea of “everything is for the best” meaning everything is for “his” best and fulfilling a “happy ever after” in his own daily life. Does Candide stick to Pangloss’s teachings? Candide finds it a challenge whether to accept or deny Pangloss’s philosophy as time progresses, and experiences he goes through putting to the test the philosophy he grew up with. Candide runs into a man who sits him down and shares with him a tragic story. This man goes on to tell him that his parents cut off his hand and leg as a form of punishment and discipline. Candide begins to question Pangloss’s teachings, “Oh Pangloss… you had no notion of these abominations! I’m through; I must give up your optimism after all” (40). “What’s optimism? Said Cacambo. Alas, said Candide, it’s a mania for saying things are well when one is in hell” (40). This quote shows the first sign of Candide maturing by seeing that Pangloss’s theory isn’t always right, by proving everything isn’t always for the best.

Martin’s philosophy goes against the idea of Pangloss’s. Martin explains not all is for the best, “… man was bound to live either in convulsions of misery or in the lethargy of boredom.” (73) Unlike Pangloss’s teachings, Martin is the very first person that causes Candide to look at evil, suffering, and misery as for...
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