This website uses cookies to ensure you have the best experience. Learn more

Women In Voltaire’s Candide Essay

1055 words - 4 pages

In Candide Voltaire discusses the exploitation of the female race in the eighteenth century through the women in the novel. Cunegonde, Paquette, and the Old Woman suffer through rape and sexual exploitation regardless of wealth or political connections. These characters possess very little complexity or importance in Candide. With his characterization of Cunegonde, Paquette, and the Old Woman Voltaire satirizes gender roles and highlights the impotence of women in the 1800s.

Cunegonde is the daughter of a wealthy German lord. She is described as “extremely beautiful” (Voltaire. 5) and is repeatedly referred to as “the fair Cunegonde.” (39). She is the typical damsel-in-distress: a woman who is completely reliant on male protection and often fainting at the sight of anything the least bit distressing. She is a vapid beauty and completely obsequious to whomever she happens to belong to at the time. However, Voltaire does not blame her foolish naiveté on her femininity. Candide himself is terribly innocent and is unable to make decisions without the advice of a third party. In a way, Cunegonde accepts her situation in life better than Candide does. She knows that as a woman in the eighteenth century she has few options if she wishes to survive and she is not above using her beauty to her advantage. She never questions or philosophizes like many of the male characters. Her acceptance of the sexual slavery she finds herself in belies an understanding of the limited options women had at the time.

Women in the 1800s had very few choices for advancement in life. They could either marry well or they could become the mistress of a powerful man or both. Cunegonde becomes the mistress of the Grand Inquisitor, a Bulgar captain, and the governor of Buenos Aires. As their mistress she is assured of a comfortable life, but it is a life of sexual exploitation. When propositioned by the governor Cunegonde must decide between staying faithful to her love, Candide, or being the governor’s mistress. Her companion, who is simply named the Old Woman, offers this advice. …

You have it in your power to be the wife of the greatest nobleman in South America, who has a splendid mustache. Are you in the position in which you can flaunt the luxury of unflinching loyalty? You were raped by the Bulgars; a Jew and an Inquisitor have enjoyed your favors. Misfortunes bestow certain rights. I confess that were I in your position, I would not harbor the least scruple at marrying the governor and thereby securing Captain Candide’s fortune. (41)

These women understand that in the 1800s they had very little power; only through men may they exert any influence. The female characters in Candide are of little importance to the action of the story. The narrator embraces a male perspective and does not endow any of the women with any interesting or redeeming qualities. The Old Woman, being ugly and world-weary does not even earn a name. Paquette is merely described as “a...

Find Another Essay On Women in Voltaire’s Candide

Imperialistic Attitude Conveyed in Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Voltaire’s Candide

1566 words - 6 pages by. Sadly, this is usually not, nor has it really ever been, the case. Instead, government is run by a largely imperialistic attitude. That is, whatever can satisfy the greed and hunger of a nation is what matters, not the inhumane suffering that follows afterwards. This imperialistic and dehumanized attitude is both explicitly and implicitly shown in two great novels, Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels and Voltaire’s Candide, along with some

Women, Fate, Philosophy on the propontis, Pangloss and El Dorado in "Candide" (5 short essays)

1418 words - 6 pages wise and viable option for creatures as weak as human beings.In conclusion you could say that nothing has been learnt, Candide has just found a way round the system. Nothing has been achieved, it is a sad and depressing end, which seems to pose more questions than answers.Discuss the Role of Women in the Novella Candide?One could assme that Voltaire maintained a dislike for the feminine sex, especially those who founded their livelihood on their

Women´s Situation in Early Modern Time: Candide by Francois-Marie Arouet

1336 words - 6 pages law called anti-groping bill, which would make any TSA searcher that "touches the anus ,or any sexual organ of a men or a women , buttocks, or breast of another person including touching by clothing, or touches the person in a way that would be inappropriate and offensive to a reasonable person" as sexual harassment. According to Reuters, if this new law takes effect, a TSA agent that makes such an offensive could be fined as much as

candide enlightment ideas - CMP 2850 - essay

705 words - 3 pages is clear in his presentation. Candide is Voltaire’s rather pessimistic approach to disprove religious and philosophical optimism, a popular theory of philosopher, Gottfried Leibniz. To disprove this, he establishes the main characters as devoted optimists, then methodically attacks the theory as he puts the characters through predictable experiences and situations that slowly extinguish their belief that "all is for the best.” This essay is


1642 words - 7 pages did “not have enough dead men to his credit,” (111). Voltaire used this brutal death to show that the people of the times were more concerned with numbers than lives. A man was killed merely because he did not kill enough innocent victims. In Voltaire’s eyes, this was the worst form of brutality he could imagine. In a world where everything has a purpose, Voltaire could not see where unreasonable deaths fit in. Although the novella, Candide, was

Religion in Candide by Voltaire

982 words - 4 pages books which are written on this issue.One of the books is ‘Candide’. In this essay, we will analyse that how Voltaire’s portrait of religious figures is in ‘Candide’. In this book Voltaire portrays several religious groups and on these religious groups he conveys his opinions. Voltaire often criticizes the religious figures of the times in ‘Candide’. His criticism of religion surfaces through the whole story. There are many figures that Voltaire

Candide Essay

1209 words - 5 pages of her physical appearance. It is revealed that their love is a very superficial one. Voltaire’s satirical use of the love story between Cunegonde and Candide shows how superficial love can be. In a perfect world, the best of all possible worlds true love would overcome any challenge. Voltaire uses an emotion(Love/Lust) that we are all well familiar with as evidence that the theory of Optimism is ridiculous. Leibnz’s theory of Optimism was

Candide: Discussion

894 words - 4 pages Voltaire’s novel, Candide, features satire as social commentary on religion, maltreatment of women, slavery, money, philosophies, and societal ideas that were prominent during the course of the Enlightenment. Through the characters Cunegonde and the old woman, Voltaire exposes that women were seen as property and secondary citizens; they were treated as weak, helpless individuals that needed a high ranking husband to ensure a jubilant life. For

Symbolic Objects in Truman Capote’s Breakfast at Tiffany’s and Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

1348 words - 6 pages Enlightenment writings and answers to diverse topics such as religious tolerance and basic human rights. This paper will focus on examining women’s situation in early modern times. The women characters in Candide are all under-developed and do not have substantial position in plot development. They are described to be physically inferior and subjected to horrible rape and misfortune. They suffer regardless of their previous wealth or religious

Candide. Everything Has a Cause

1039 words - 4 pages Candide is a novel that makes sarcasm on lots of aspects. For example, it satirizes one philosophical idea that “there is no effect without a cause”. As a philosopher who believes that everything has its own purpose, I feel offended by Voltaire’s Candide after reading this novel at my local Salon, since what Voltaire attacked, cause and effect, had been proved in our real life hundreds of years ago by scientific revolution, from which the idea

Candide Religion

1223 words - 5 pages work were mostly negative with the exception of Brethren predecessor, the Anabaptist, and the old woman. His opinion of various religions was also established in Candide, although it was simply a vague one, clumping all organized religions into an “evil superstitions” category. The conclusion of this work also gave us insight on Voltaire’s view of religion as either positive or detrimental to society and the individual. Throughout the book

Similar Essays

Religion, Politics And Morals In Voltaire’s Candide

1471 words - 6 pages “Religion, Politics and Morals” How did Voltaire exploit the pre-modern era through mockery and criticism of 18th century society? Voltaire’s Candide can be understood in several ways by its audience. At a first glance it would appear to be simply a story blessed with outrageous creativity, but if you look deeper in to the novel, a more complicated and meaningful message is buried within. Voltaire uses the adventures of Candide as a

Voltaire’s Views Of Religion And State Expressed In Candide

801 words - 3 pages Voltaire’s Views of Religion and State Expressed In Candide      Throughout Candide, Voltaire uses satire as a tool to reveal his controversial views regarding religion and State. He reveals the corruption, hypocrisy and immorality present in the way in which government and religion operated during his lifetime. Most particularly, he criticizes violent government behaviour (ie; war) and the behaviour of members of the aristocracy, who

Love In Aphra Behn’s Oroonko, And Voltaire’s Candide

959 words - 4 pages In Aphra Behn’s Oroonko, and Voltaire’s Candide, love is a subject of prominence; it serves as a starting point for both of these characters. For example, if Candide hadn’t fallen in love with his insatiable beauty, Cunegonde, he would not have been thrown from his home, castle Thunder-Ten-Tronckh, and sent on his dreadful journey across Europe. “The Baron of Thunder-Ten-Tronckh passed by the screen and, talking note of this cause and this

The Use Of Satire In Voltaire’s Candide By Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz

876 words - 4 pages The Use of Satire in Voltaire’s Candide Satire. According to it is “the use of humor, irony, exaggeration, or ridicule to expose and criticize people's stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other topical issues”. During a time when going against the common mindset, which at the time was philosophical optimism, was rare and often looked down upon, using satire in order to not only