Women, Fate, Philosophy on the propontis, Pangloss and El Dorado in "Candide" (5 short essays)

Essay by benedictbridgeA-, September 2006

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What is the role played by Pangloss throughout the novella?

Pangloss plays a key role in the novella "Candide" in the way that he is essential for Voltaire to attack the philosophy of G. W. von Leibniz. Leibniz philosophy is ridiculed throughout "Candide", and it states that an all-good, all-powerful God has created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect, it goes on to say that when human beings perceive something as wrong or evil, it is merely because they do not understand the ultimate good that the so-called evil is meant to serve. Pangloss is an open symbol of both the folly of blind optimism, and obsessive abstract speculation.

This is ridiculing is brought about by the famous saying, "All is for the best in the best of all possible worlds". And in no way are we meant to be receiving Pangloss as a believable character; like Candide he is over exaggerated and distorted to the extent that his philosophy is almost inseparable from his character.

One finds that Pangloss is a recurring nightmare of Candide's in the way that he constantly returns from moments of almost certain peril alive, and therefore re-ignites the morsels of optimism that Candide still contains. Pangloss is ravaged by syphilis, nearly hanged, nearly dissected, and imprisoned yet still he lives on. And even at the end of the novella, when all the companions have found harmony in the garden, Pangloss maintains that this is the best of all possible worlds, when really they are living in a cave, cut off from the suffering that still rages in the outside world.

So one must assume that his main purpose throughout the novella is that he provides a hole through which Voltaire can attack the optimists,