Monday, February 24, 2014

All Language

     We speak a lot in class about the power that is inherent in language. The ability to speak, read, or write gives people an avenue through which to influence others. Man's ability to communicate through words is his one undeniable claim above other creatures on Earth and the reverence which is given to language as a whole, endows him with a certain amount of power. 
     This power and influence of language is directly acknowledged in Voltaire's Candide. The person from whom Candide takes all his lessons is Dr. Pangloss, a name which, according to the notes in the back of the book, means "all language." From this simple and clever naming of the philosopher filling Candide's innocent mind with knowledge about the world and life itself, Voltaire makes an important statement about the power of language as a whole. Candide is an easily influenced character in his naiveté and he is gullible enough to fall into many unfortunate situations, but the one person whose advice and lessons he holds dearest to his heart and firmly roots his life in, is Dr. Pangloss. 
     The banning of books tends to be an attempt to extinguish a flame it may possibly ignite, but the fact that these books have the potential for that encompassing blaze and that people fear their influence, give them even more power in society. Language is dangerous to some in its communication of ideas that may counter those of existing societal norms and we have seen this through the banning of the books we have already seen this semester. Candide, being another broadly banned book for much of its content and ideas, holds a great amount of power, and even before its banning, Voltaire seemed to be aware of the influence of language and manifests this through the character of Dr. Pangloss and his totaling influence on Candide. 

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