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Candide Essay

1209 words - 5 pages

The idea of a “damsel in distress” being saved by her “knight in shining armor” is one we are well familiar with. Voltaire, a philosopher from the Age of Enlightenment (a time of questioning tradition and religion, looking to science and reason) uses this same concept to satire love, in his novel Candide. Voltaire satirizes not only love, but other subjects under question during the Age of Enlightenment, such as religion and the military. Exposing there corruption, Voltaire satirizes his main focus in Candide, Leibniz’s theory of Optimism. Leibniz was another philosopher from the Age of Enlightenment, who’s beliefs differed from Voltaire's. An example of this is Leibniz’s theory of ...view middle of the document...

Here, Voltaire ridicules the logic behind this philosophy. Candide then continues his travels with the Bulgarians and describes the “glories of war,” in it’s anarchy he finds the opportunity to flee. On his quest for food and shelter Candide encounters an Orator, who provides another example of corruption.
The Orator begins by asking Candide if he believes that the Pope is the Antichrist, Candide replies with uncertainty seeking only food and shelter. The Orator’s wife “a woman of religious zeal,” becomes enraged by his response and pores waste on Candide. It is then when a good Anabaptist named James comes to Candide’s aid, “A good Anabaptist, named James, beheld the cruel and ignominious treatment...he took him home, cleaned him, gave him bread and beer” (Voltaire 12). Voltaire is demonstrating that despite James being an Anabaptist it was he who offered food and shelter to Candide, and not the orator. It is satirical and ironic because supposedly Christianity involves giving alms, something the orator and his wife failed to do. However, naive Candide still has a different perspective of the situation, “Master Pangloss has well said that all is for the best in this world, for I am infinitely more touched by your extreme generosity” (Voltaire 12). Perhaps, one of the most significant satirical events was after the death of the good Anabaptist.
Candide and Pangloss have been reunited when the Lisbon Earthquake strikes. The ignorant people of Lisbon believe that God has sent an earthquake as punishment for sin. They decide to preform an auto da fe believing, “That the burning of a few people alive by a slow fire, and with great ceremony, is an infallible secret to hinder the earth from quaking” (Voltaire 23). Pangloss assures Candide and people of Lisbon that the horrors of the earthquake and the death of the good Anabaptist were meant to happen and that they were all for the best, “All that is for the best. If there is a volcano at Lisbon it cannot be elsewhere. It is impossible that things should be other than they are; for everything is right”(Voltaire 21). It is then that it is decided that Candide and Pangloss are sinners and shall be scarified in the auto de fe, for not believing it was sent by god. Pangloss is hanged for his philosophy and Candide is beaten for being his disciple listening in approbation. Voltaire is trying to point out the irrational things people did based on faith and tradition. The people of Lisbon believed that by preforming auto da fe,...

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