At the beginning of his travels, Candide still believes naively in the philosophy of his old teacher, Pangloss.
This philosophy believes that, “since everything is made for an end, everything is necessarily for the best end” (Voltaire 521).
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The optimism inherent to Pangloss’s version of fate undermines the truth of life and glosses over pain and tragedy as part of a larger universal plan.
However, the humor which peppers the old woman’s story, the Princess of Palestrina, shows the hypocrisy of the systems of society which propagates this ideal.
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Candide and Pangloss’s other pupils are soon confronted by the atrocities of the world – death, destruction, rape, and deception – and yet seem to largely still cling fondly to the memory and philosophy of their naively optimistic teacher.
It is only after losing everything and hearing the tales of the others that Candide begins to see the folly in this philosophy.