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Dr. Pangloss and his Philosophy

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Dr. Pangloss and his philosophy form the primary focus of the satirical work by Voltaire. He is a teacher and a mentor to Candide who is raised by Boron Thunder-ten-tronckh in the Westphalia region of German. Candide is made to believe by his teacher that the world is the best among all the other possible worlds and that everything that happens in it occur for the best. Eventually, Candide becomes wooed into his teacher’s beliefs and points of view about the world. He acknowledges all of Dr. Pangloss as the total truth. One evening, Boron finds Candide kissing his daughter and he sends him away from his home. After this, Candide experiences one hardship after the other. Nevertheless, according to Pingloss’ belief, all was alright since it happened in the best of all possible worlds.  He joins the army where he is thoroughly mistreated and flees to Holland. While in that country, he meets Dr. Pangloss who has been reduced to a street beggar. During this time, Candide learns that most of the Baron’s family members were killed by soldiers. Pangloss had managed to instil in his students the belief that people were living in the best world and therefore he proposed that everything happened for the best even when not. For instance, he argued that the nose supported eye glasses where as stones helped to build palaces and castles.

The theme of optimism is well highlighted in the book. According to how events unfold in the story, it is apparent that life disagrees with the carefully packed up metaphysical accounts such as optimism. This belief was found to be very detrimental since its explanation defied even the same person who advocates for it. One of the people who suffered from the devout stand on optimism is Candide. However, he overlooked these abuses that he witnessed and went experienced without realizing that he had been enslaved by it. For example, after he is caught by Boron kissing his daughter, he slaps her and sends him away from his home. Although he loses close contact with Conegonde, he and is thrown out to live by himself, he just consoles himself by accepting that all happened for a good reason. 

Furthermore, when Pangloss and Candide inform the earthquake survivors about their belief of optimism, they are almost attacked by the angry masses. The people were not impressed by this argument since it denied them free will to choose what to do and what not to. The philosophy of optimism was just a fantasy of ideas about how things occur in the metaphysical world but not practical in the real world. As a matter of fact, the old woman’s story gave more proof that criticized and ridiculed belief on optimism.

It is found that, even Candide comes into realization that the belief could be flawed. This happens after the woman shares with him her story. He expresses doubts on the possibility of Pangloss’ theoretical framework of ‘best world.’ He actually admits that Pangloss’s argument might be erroneous. 

Symbolism

Gardens are found in several important parts in Candide. First, Candide is banished from Boron’s home and garden after he is spotted kissing with Cunegonde. His expulsion from Boron’s garden and home symbolises the story about the garden of Eden in the bible. Moreover, in El Dorado, Candide comes across remarkable natural scenery that exceeds the beauty found in Boron’s residence. This represents a transitory session of his life. Afterwards, Candide is found to buy a piece of land where he commits himself to work on a garden. This is an illustration of how he changed his satisfaction that was grounded from his earlier beliefs and ends up in full engagement to the environment. Also, this change is symbolic in that, it represents his change of way of living as well as his philosophical life. 

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