Symbolic Objects In Truman Capote’s Breakfast At Tiffany’s And Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar

1348 words - 6 pages

Francois-marie Arouet, known as Voltaire lived in an age of turmoil. Born in a middle-class family in Paris, Arouet witnessed general public in state of crushing poverty while French aristocracy governs with strict law relentless hierarchy. Meanwhile, the Enlightenment movement spread across Europe and spurred challenges of intellectual ideas, human equality, basic rights, etc. The movement emphasized importance of objectivity and scientific reasoning. Such a mixed environment lent Voltaire multifaceted knowledge of the society.
During his early age in a Jesuit college, Voltaire had demonstrated his intelligence in rhetorical speeches and controversial writings. Later, he served shortly ...view middle of the document...

Women are considered based on their beauty but no the intellectual capacity. In the following analysis, we can see how women escape tragic situations by using their sexuality. Voltaire satirizes gender roles and points out the impotence of women in the nineteenth century. Cunegonde and the old woman are two important characters.
Cunegonde recounts her dismal stories after she was parted away from Candide in chapter 8. Her family was killed in the war with Bulgars. A Bulgar captain took her as mistress after killing a soldier that raped her. Later, Cunegonde was sold to Don Issachar, a Jew. When the Grand inquisitor saw her at Mass, he wanted to buy her from Don Issachar. The two finally agreed to share Cunegonde. The Bulgar captain, Don Issachar, and the Grand Inquisitor bought and sold Cunegonde as though she was a painting or piece of livestock. The final agreement between Don Issachar and the Grand Inquisitor to share Cunegonde was even ridiculous. Cunegonde was treated as objects of possession being sharing between different men. The experience of Cunegonde indicates women’s inferior social status compared to that of the man. Women weren’t treated equally as men. They are vulnerable to male exploitation. Despite such unfairness, her calmness she present when she relate her stories to Candide indirectly add to the absurdity. When Cunegonde mentioned the wound left by the Bulgar rapist, Candide even commented, “What a pity! I should very much like to see it.” This is a comical but ironical comment.
Throughout the novel, Candide holds the belief that Cunegonde is a beautiful maiden, an innocent, virtuous woman. He never denies or put doubt on his love for Cunegonde. However, However, Cunegonde is far more complicated than he thought. Her initiation of their romantic contact is different from the gender stereotype at that time. Later, her acceptance to Don Fernando’s proposal further undercut Candide’s imaginative ideal impression of Cunegonde. However, Candide blames himself for their first encounter and insists that accepting governor’s offer is her only choice. She says to Candide, “An honorable woman may be raped once, but it only makes her virtue stronger.” Voltaire many a time describes her as “the lovely Cunegonde” and she is similar to a semi-divine romantic heroine in Candide’s heart. However, the fact that Cunegonde manipulate men using her beauty and sexuality reveals she is not as perfect as Candide thought but her fact seems reasonable in a world that sexuality is probably the only and most valuable asset for women. It also makes it clear that her feeling for Candide is a shallow love.
At the very end of the story, “Cunégonde grows uglier and more disagreeable every day.” She does not evolve into an independent intellectual character like Candide does but still just as “Candide’s wife” and become ugly. This to some extent hints at Voltaire’s stereotype upon women’s subservience characteristics. If he really think the woman should be...

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