Wednesday, February 3, 2010

All Is For the Best...

            Throughout the text I couldn’t help but notice the amount of superstition present as well as the justification for when misfortune occurs.   Pangloss has obviously made his career by telling those who will listen that “all is for the best” and therefore unexpected occurrences should essentially be taken with a grain of salt.

            During one of Pangloss’ sessions with Candide, he immediately teaches him this lesson.  Pangloss claims, “there is no effect without a cause” and “things cannot be other than what they are, for since everything was made for a purpose, it follows that everything is made for the best purpose… It follows that those who maintain that all is right talk nonsense; they ought to say that all is for the best.” (20).  The vulnerable Candide believes everything he is told and his gullible (ness?) leads him into dangerous and humiliating situations.

         Voltaire seems to be using very similar techniques to criticize as Hau’ofa.  Both authors are obviously using humor to draw attention to corruption and other flaws of society.  As discussed in class, humor separates the reader from the text and therefore does not appear to have an intended audience or it clears the reader of being guilty/the target. 

         Just as in “Tales of the Tikongs”, no subject is safe from criticism.  Voltaire touches on religion when Candide is asked whether or not he thinks the pope is the anti- Christ.  He goes further to depict “Christians” doing un-Christian like things, just as Hau’ofa did.  Voltaire also manipulates the characters in a way, which makes them appear thoughtless, careless, and ignorant.  The characters, such as Pangloss, constantly preach ideas yet have no real evidence to back up or justify their way of thinking and usually they have no solid arguments. 

         The same way sin and malice is expected and justified in “Tales of Tikongs” in order to criticize society as a whole, Voltaire uses extreme situations and less than aware characters to make his points and draw attention to the imperfection of society.  In both cases, humor is used in order to convey the ideas in a less harsh manner.  The ridiculous circumstances that are portrayed are indeed an extreme of those present in society, which makes it possible to call attention to them without offending or outright targeting a group or person. 

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