Monday, February 24, 2014

What's good for the goose may not be good for the gander.

            In his work, Candide, Voltaire uses the character, Dr. Pangloss , to satirize the notion that the world is the best it can be. Pangloss believes that everything that happens must happen for a reason because God made it so. Also since God it so, it must, obviously, be the best possible world. Voltaire greatly respects Pangloss and in turn accepts this notion.
             One of the most poignant moments that Voltaire’s satire shines through is when Jacques dies. Jacques, and Anabaptist, saves the live of a man who is about to drown. Unfortunately, while doing so, Jacques falls overboard. The man who live Jacques saves does not return the favor. The ship sinks and Pangloss, Candide and the sailor are the only survivors. In this scenario it is very hard to justify everything was for the best. The man, Jacques, who represented good, lost his life and the man he saved did nothing to help. Things only get worse when they get to land.
            When they get to Libson it is in the aftermath of an earthquake. The land and ravage and many are dead and seriously wounded. Pangloss tries to console the survivors that everything is for the best. Pangloss’ statement does not go over well with the survivors. He is accused of being a heretic because there is no way that someone like Pangloss could believe in original sin. Pangloss is confronted with the claim that original sin is proof that all is not for the best. Although Pangloss tries to defend his story with some twisted logic, and while he may convince himself, not many people believe him.
            It is not entirely surprising that Pangloss believes what he believes. Though he is not royal he still enjoys more power than many other characters. For those with power the world may seem like it is for the best. They do not have to see the troubles face by many others. The world may be wonderful for them but for those who are oppressed the world is most certainly not the best it can be. Voltaire seems to be making this point. Many of the characters who are the most optimistic, like Pangloss, also enjoy, to some degree, power. It is most evident in the fact that Candide’s parents due not marry.  The only reason his parents do not marry is because his mother had more royal lineage. While Candide’s mother might have viewed the world as great it seems his father would not view the world as being the best it can be. For if the world was the best it can be he would have his son and wife. Pangloss’, like many others, view of life is skewed based on his experience. He is able to be more optimistic than most because his situation, while not ideal, is still better than most people’s.

No comments:

Post a Comment