Essay On Voltaire’s Candide: Use Of Language

714 words - 3 pages

Use of Language in Candide

 
    A great philosopher Liebnitz once said that this is the best possible of all worlds. Voltaire disagrees. In Voltaire's Candide, the impartial narrator travels to distant lands and experiences a range of extremes. After having spent a great deal of time away from his homeland, and having seen more than most people see in a lifetime, the narrator is forced to conclude that this may not be the best possible world because of the reality of evil. Voltaire relates this point very effectively through his mastery of language and the choices he makes, both gramatically and content-related.

 

In one particular passage, Voltaire uses explicit diction, exaggerated

details and manipulated syntax in order to contrast the optimist's romantic

view of battle with the horrible reality that is war. Voltaire's grossly

exaggerated details give a somewhat comical description of an otherwise

horrible event.  "The cannons battered down about six thousand men", and

then "the musket-fire removed...about nine or ten thousand" and finally, the

bayonet killed "several thousand men or so."  Voltaire's lackluster use of

numbers in describing the casualties conveys the soldier's attitude toward

human life;  killing is more like a game or competition than a serious and

immoral act.  The soldiers dispose of men's lives as if they were worthless,

for the purpose of settling a disagreement.  After fighting, the two kings

celebrate their respective victories "by having Te Deums sung."  The kings

have the audacity to celebrate after commanding their armies to kill

innocent people.  They congratulate themselves after the violent bloodbath

even though neither side has won.  Later, Candide passes through a town that

has been destroyed by the Bulgars "in strict accordance with the laws of

war."  Voltaire suggests that the Bulgars burnt the town to the ground only

because they were blindly following the laws of war.  The soldiers obey

their unfounded orders without giving any consideration to the well-being of

innocent people.

 

Voltaire's diction attacks Leibnitz's philosophy that this is the best of

all...

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