The Influences of Candide’s Development
The story Candide or Optimism, written in 1759 by Francois Marie Arouet De Voltaire, is about a young man who experiences many misfortunes and who is exceptionally naive. His development throughout his journey in life is contributed and influenced by the people he comes in contact with. In the story, Candide has the opportunity to experience many different views on philosophical optimism by meeting different people who have all suffered from different experiences and misfortunes.
Some of these people, such as Pangloss, Cacambo, and Martin are individuals who had a major impact on Candide’s development and perspective of life. Candide is a good-hearted but an extremely naive young man. His mentor Pangloss teaches him that their world is “the best of all possible worlds. ”(Candide, 521) Candide travels the world and comes in contact with a variety of misfortunes. He idealizes Pangloss and his teachings, and continuously tries to apply these teachings to his life. As he is applying these teachings, he suffers from a series of misfortunes.
His faith in Pangloss’ optimism is repeatedly tested. Due to Candide believing in Pangloss’ sayings, he does not have an opinion on many things. Candide is definitely “extremely ignorant of the ways of the world,” (523). The fact Candide can not make decisions for himself, causes his actions and opinions to mainly be determined and influenced by his surrounding factors. He is a less realistic character due to his innocence, simply because he accepts as true everything his tutor Pangloss tells him.
Candide’s vulnerability unfortunately leads him to many misfortunes, which painfully teaches him about reality. The character Pangloss is Candide’s philosophical tutor. Pangloss’ optimistic philosophy contrasted greatly with the events that were occurring in Candide’s life. Often throughout the story, many disastrous things happened to Candide, but he continued to believe Pangloss. Although Pangloss’ own experiences throughout life contradict his belief, he remained faithful to the belief that “everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds” (521).
Pangloss, just like Candide is an unrealistic character. He too, is somewhat hopeful and refuses to accept bad, believing he could make their world a better place with his none sense optimism. As Candide continues to come in contact with all these misfortunes, it shows that Candide was a faithful young man, and indeed was a true believer in Pangloss’ theory that all was well in their world. Pangloss also taught Candide that “things cannot be otherwise than they are, since everything is made to serve an end” (521).
Pangloss’ philosophy is stating that everything has a purpose and everything that happens, happens for a reason. No matter how bad things might be going, it is for a good cause and can only be as bad if one believes it to be. Cacambo is also one of Candide’s companions on his journey. He also acts as an advisor and a guide for Candide and helps him develop some knowledge towards the ways of the world. Unlike any other character in the novel, Cacambo is honest and highly intelligent. Cacambo shows confidence through his intelligence and moral unrighteousness.
He is a good man, as well as kind and generous. Cacambo pushes Candide to view the world as it really is, instead of following Pangloss’ philosophy of “the best of all possible worlds. ” He wants Candide to understand that bad things happen in the world and that everything is not good. During the journey, Cacambo is always able to get himself and Candide out of trouble with his quick thinking and advanced knowledge. He has good sense and knowledge and is able to make things better, whereas Candide always make a troubled situation even harder with his lack of knowledge and his inexperience in the world.
The time Candide spent with Cacambo during his journey was a positive influence on the young man. Even though Candide did not have the analytical skills as Cacambo, he shows growth in self-sufficient decisions by the influences of Cacambo. The last and final character that had an influence on Candide’s development was a scholar named Martin. Martin is the third of Candide’s companions and advisers. His beliefs are completely opposite of those of Pangloss. Martin, just like the others has also suffered from a series of calamities. Identical to Cacambo, Martin is more intelligent than Candide and Pangloss.
He is a more realistic character because he is scholarly and more likely to draw reasonable conclusions. In a conversation between Martin and Candide, Martin tells him “I find that everything goes wrong in our world” (561). He has difficulty seeing the world as it actually is and one can conclude that Martin constantly expects nothing but the worst to happen. He teaches Candide to see that the world is full of bad and evil just like Cacambo did. He also shows him the world is not all well as he once believed from listening to the philosophy of Pangloss.
The conclusion of Candide would not be possible without the many changes that had taken place within Candide. During one point in the story Candied began to lose faith in Pangloss after seeing the horrific events that happened before him. “Oh Pangloss, you had no notion of these abominations! I’m through, I must give up your optimism after all” (552). At this time Candied began to have second thoughts on everything his tutor has taught him, yet he still kept the faith hoping that things really were for the good.
Through his many experiences, Candied realized the impossibility of philosophical optimism. With the help of Pangloss, Cacambo, and Martin, as well as his experiences and observations, he learned to come up with his own solutions and acquired the ability to judge for himself, all which was apart of the development of Candide.