RONAN GABRIEL JAMESOLANIM - Literary Analysis Essay - Final Draft

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Ronan JamesolanimMr. MorrisonAP Literature and Composition01 November 2018The Severed Chains of the Captive MindIs the glass half empty or half full? This is the most cliched question asked by psychologists and common demarcation friends use to determine one’s perspective in life. The entire story of Candide revolves around the said question, which may be boring, but in all honesty very eye-opening. The protagonist’s quest, a young naive man, who was banished in his lavish life experienced the outside world for the first time, bearing the philosophy of his one and only teacher Master Pangloss who believes that every event, good or bad, are according to God’s plan, and is therefore for the best of everything. Ultimately, Candide’s newfound freedom made him run into characters that hold different perspectives in life. Albeit being a philosopher during the enlightenment period, Voltaire, in his satirical scripture Candideexposed the hypocrisy and flawed teachings exhorted not only by the Catholic church, but also from fellow contemporary philosophers who stigmatized the movement’s reputation. The enlightenment period encourages secularism, where ideas are needed to be proven with tangible evidence, not intangible ones. Voltaire throughout the book challenges the idea thatsince an omniscient being created the world, specifically God, everything that transpires in the world good, neutral, or bad, is all for the place to become the best of all possible worlds there is. The tabula rasa protagonist, Candide, like money in a bank vault, is housed in a well protected, well-provided castle throughout his life, away from the sufferings of old age, sickness, and death.When Candide got kicked out the castle at the end of Chapter 1, he went on an adventure which
made him experience and witness series of misfortune and tragedy, serving as a catalyst for his growth as a wiser person by questioning whether the dogma of optimism holds any truth. In Chapter 4, Candide, after being banished, reunited with Pangloss who is critically ill and infectedwith syphilis. Instead of admitting that the world is cruel, Pangloss said ‘“it was a thing unavoidable, a necessary ingredient in the best of worlds; for if Columbus had not caught in an island in America this disease… we should have had neither chocolate nor cochineal”’ (Voltaire 21). Candide, although somewhat illiterate and narrow-minded due to the fact that he learned from a man who is as obscure to the outside world as he is, began to question the sanity of his teacher, for even him, a disciple not knowing, deduce that any illness can’t be a blessing in disguise. Pangloss used a reasoning called confirmation bias: looking for evidence that supports one’s belief. Voltaire, according to the introduction, hated “Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s theory that God would not create a universe other than the best of all possible universes, as expounded in his Theodicy (1710)” (May xvi). Voltaire found it very perplexing and stupid for he

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