Pangloss’s philosophy of life is that all is for the best in the “best of all possible worlds. ” This optimistic philosophy actually is the key element of Voltaire’s satire. Pangloss’s philosophy is against the ideas of the Enlightenment period. Pangloss believes that a powerful God had created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect. When creatures of the world, see something as wrong or evil, it is because they do not understand the ultimate good that will come out of it.
Voltaire satirically shows the reader that Pangloss is not a believable character. Voltaire illustrates this by showing us that he keeps his optimistic thought even when he is imprisoned. Pangloss ignores any evidence that contradicts his initial opinion. He also uses illogical arguments to support his beliefs. Pangloss’s philosophy tries to impose a passive attitude toward all that is wrong in the world. If the world is the best one possible, then there is no reason to make any effort to change things.
Martin is more believable than Pangloss, not because he is more sophisticated, but because he is smarter and more likely to draw conclusions with which we can identify. Martin had been robbed by his wife and beaten by his son and deserted by his daughter and also lived financial setbacks, and therefore he’s a pessimist whereas Pangloss is an optimist. He uses his experiences to judge the world whereas Pangloss was merely using a theory. As a result, Martin is more insightful than Pangloss to foresee events that will happen.
Even though Martin’s philosophy is more believable than Pangloss’s, he’s still not good at predicting how some people will behave because his philosophy is coming from extreme pessimism. Therefore it might not be wrong to say that Voltaire is trying to prove that we need flexible thought in our lives based on real evidence. Both philosophers will ultimately fail because there’s no room for exceptions in their beliefs. Candide starts his journey with the influence of Pangloss’s belief of “best of all possible worlds”.
Pangloss and Candide, suffer and witness a wide variety of horrors and tragedies together. During these tragedies, Pangloss’s s philosophy proves to be useless and even destructive at the end, because it prevents them from making realistic judgments. For example while Jacques was drowning, Pangloss doesn’t let Candide save him by saying that the bay of Lisbon had been formed for this Anabaptist to drown in. Also when Candide was buried under the rubble of the Lisbon earthquake, he asked for oil and wine because he was dying, but Pangloss ignored him and still tried to reason with the causes of the earthquake.
At the end Candide rejects his philosophy of optimism and as he and his servant Cacambo travel and go through more horrors, Candide starts believing a pessimistic view of life. When Candide meets Martin, they set sail together and Martin is just the opposite of Pangloss. He does not believe that everything is for the best in this world. Even though Candide tries to oppose Martin by talking about free will but it does not solve the problem of presence of evil in the world.
In general, Martin’s arguments seem more reasonable than Pangloss’s ideas. But, like Pangloss, Martin believes so firmly in his own view of the world that he is not flexible and usually dismisses real evidence that contradicts his philosophy. When Candide cannot find Cunegonde, Martin shows the bad influence of his pessimism. Instead of attempting to comfort his friend, Martin uses Candide’s distress to further confirm his own world-view. Just like Pangloss’s optimism, Martin’s pessimism also keeps him from taking initiative to improve the world.
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