Candide To 'Le Probleme Du Mal'

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Candide, ou l’optimism, is a picaresque style novel written by Voltaire and published in 1759. It recounts the adventures and misfortunes of the eponymous Protagonist, as he lives by his mentor’s philosophy that we, as human beings, reside in ‘le meilleur des mondes possibles’REF. This affirmation has led to widespread interpretation of Candide as a satirical response to ‘le probleme du mal’ REF, or the role of God in the existence of evil. This concept sparked a great deal of curiosity amongst eighteenth century enlightenment philosophers, who sought to rationalise the existence of evil in a world created by an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God. Amongst these was Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz, a German philosopher whose ideas regarding theodicy…show more content…
Nevertheless, for the most part, the pair continue to justify all the evil that they encounter, putting blind faith in to this philosophy. Although Voltaire continually emphasises his characters empathy towards evil, it is performed in a way that has the entirely opposite effect. The absurdity and sheer immaturity of Pangloss’ outlook is ridiculed through the portrayal of his ridiculous reasoning behind his own claims. Voltaire highlights two principal flaws inherent in Pangloss’ unwavering support of evil. Primarily, his crippling inability to effectively distinguish between cause and effect, or to argue convincingly in support of evil. He argues that ‘le nez ont ete faits pour porter des lunettes’ (p1), and that if Syphilis had not been brought over from the Americas, we wouldn’t have ‘ni le chocolat ni la cochenille’ (p17). The sheer obviousness of Pangloss’ inaccuracy reflects the obvious faults in his reasoning used to form conclusions about the presence of evil. In addition, Pangloss’ assertion that the Baron’s chateau was ‘le plus beau…show more content…
Voltaire contrasts the obvious exaggeration of Candide and Pangloss’ optimistic philosophy with the more rational viewpoints of the other characters. This variation in opinions further demonstrates the extent to which Voltaire criticises an openly accepting view of evil in the world. The most apparent contrast to Pangloss’ philosophy is that of Martin, a downtrodden scholar, whose wisdom proves to be more rational than that proffered by Pangloss. Martin states that the world is consumed by evil, because ‘dieu l’a abandonne a quelque etre malfesant’ (103) and even that which appears to be virtuous in this world is in reality the opposite. Although, similar to Pangloss’ argument, Martin’s opinion is at times flawed, his views on the world are undeniably supported by much stronger empirical evidence with regards to the atrocities of the novel. He discusses the sinking of Vanderdunder’s ship with Candide, who argues Pangloss’ philosophy that justice has ultimately been served to those who have done wrong. Martin responds to this by arguing that this is illogical, since it there is no explanation that ‘les passage qui etait sur son vesseau perissent aussi.’ (105). He continues by rationalising that God had punished the dutch pirates on the ship, and that ‘le diable a noye les autres.’ (105) This demonstrates the view that the devil’s hand is just as visible in the world as the actions of God, and

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