Voltaire, name adopted by François Marie Arouet (1694-1778), was a French Enlightment writer, who criticized the French system of government and the society of the early 18th century. His novel Candide, or Optimism casts doubt on the optimist philosophy which espouses that everything is for the best, and we live in the best of all possible worlds. The protagonist, a boy from Westphalia who lives in a Baron’s castle and is taught by the philosopher Dr. Pangloss, is kicked out of the castle because he kisses Cunégonde, the Baron’s daughter. Afterwards, Candide begins a journey filled with tragedy and a series of misadventures. Across this journey, which takes Candide from Westphalia to Holland, Portugal, South America and Turkey, he met many characters; some of them reappear in different places, like Cunégonde, her brother and Dr. Pangloss. These characters are very important throughout the novel, because they enable to express Voltaire’s ideas on the French society, politics and culture of his time.
Dr. Pangloss is the character who expresses the philosophy challenged in the novel, that is, the optimism espoused by Gottfried Leibniz and Alexander Pope. Pangloss’s optimism, with his support of Leibniz’s thought, is continuously contradicted with everything which Candide experiences out of the castle, for example, his forced recruitment in the war and the earthquake in Lisbon. Pangloss remains true to his believe and maintains it until the end, despite his own sufferings, like the syphilis, and the sufferings of the others. He creates a contrast to the situations and the feelings of the others surrounding him.
On the other hand, the Manichean Martin represents the opposite position, the pessimist who thinks that everything is evil. This character appears after Candide was in El Dorado and returns loaded of treasures, and he creates also a contrast, because it was one of the less negative moments of the