Compare and contrast the role of Candidates three mentors - Comparison Essay Example
As the name is supposed to indicate Candide is like a white paper - Compare and contrast the role of Candidates three mentors introduction. Readers who want to compliment Candide think of him as a person – clean and ingenuous. It can also be interpreted by others as somebody who does not have any own convictions and is easily influenced by people around him. He has mentors or teachers throughout his life – either designated like Pangloss or attributed like Cacambo or Martin.
Travails of candide begin with the assumptions ingrained in him from childhood by his tutor Pangloss. ““Pangloss gave instruction in metaphysico-theologico-cosmolo-nigology. He proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds…. Consequently, those who say everything is well are uttering mere stupidities; they should say everything is for the best.” With this conditioning, and under the tutelage of the person who used to vacillate and postpone action to indulge in idle philosophical banter, Candide takes on the world and tries to map these theories on to the several happenings like the atrocities, rape, slavery, pain and suffering through natural calamities, betrayal and the loss of loved ones – with scant credibility. Pangloss is the most important character as far as Voltaire’s purpose is concerned. The satire is on theory of Optimism professed by Leibniz, and Pangloss is the bull’s eye, all the barbs of the story are aimed at. For good measure, he contracts Syphilis and has several physical and social difficulties while all the time trying to defend his theories. This nature also affects Candide but he slowly starts seeing contrasting evidence and is forced to question the premise of such a philosophy. The brutality all around does not support any optimistic approaches to explanation. Besides, Pangloss’s philosophy encourages a passive and complacent attitude – which leads Candide to allow the drowning of Jacques – the only honorable character Candide encounters in all his journeys.
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Martin acts as a sane counterpart to Pangloss’s escapist philosophical ramblings. Direct and firsthand experience of the realities of the world fills him with Pessimism and even events signifying good fortune are looked upon by him skeptically. After the initial education Candide receives in theoretical philosophy at the hands of Pangloss, Voltaire adds two levels of learnings in the opposite theory. Candide is subjected to several misfortunes and these practical lessons erode his belief in optimism. Added to his learnings from experience, Martin’s theories of life and the world in general revolve around pessimism. These learnings finally give Candide the courage to question the Pangloss’s teachings and beliefs he so dearly held all his life. This see-saw effect between two opposite perspectives of looking at the world around him and the time to contemplate about the vagaries of fate and nature lead Candide to a philosophical exhaustion which culminates in his finding ways to escape any philosophical musings, like working to exhaustion in his garden.
Unlike both Pangloss and Martin, Cacambo is not a teacher to Candide in any sense. He is the companion Candide chooses by himself. Cacambo is unique among the characters of Candide for the fact that he comes without any intellectual pretensions but has s sharp wit which helps him suffer the least misfortunes among all the characters of the book. General impression given by the book to any reader is that Voltaire has given up on any faith in human nature. Just the presence of Cacambo in the novel is a contradiction to any such assumption. Cacambo inspires optimism in his words and deeds but does not profess it as any philosophical tenet. He is ready to accept the varying view points and acknowledge that world models man to be extremely good and at the same time evil co-exists in him.
More than anything else, Voltaire’s sarcastic digs at the predominant philosophy of his period juxtaposed with the calamities and anarchy prevalent at the times make this a political satire which stands the test of time. To this day it is relevant because it helps readers identify the prominent traits of the current thinking and identify their faults when applied to real life. The conclusion is not very original. Voltaire seems to conclude that the best service mankind can do to himself is to cultivate his own garden and tend to his duties which is endeavor worthy of repute.
It is also noteworthy that despite all odds, the ideas inculcated in man have a vice like grip on him. The ideas or philosophies are like glasses fixed into his eyes which tint reality to match the ideas held so dearly. Even in the last chapter, Pangloss tries to attribute the tumultuous happenings of Candide’s life to his optimistic theories. Candide responds by saying “ —That is very well put, said Candide, but we must go and work our garden.”
Three different and disparate teachers help Candide attain a scheme for life which places the least burden of intellectual turmoil and let him have his labor’s fruit in peace.