Voltaire's Use of Satire to Compare Europe and El Dorado
The late seventeenth century was a time of change, a time of ushering out the old and bringing in the new. This was a period of exploring logic and understanding instead of religion to answer one's questions. Otherwise known as the Age of Enlightenment, society was out to seek reason rather than to find all of their answers from the Catholic Church or other faiths. Voltaire's story Candide displays his thoughts on the Enlightenment by mocking the monarch and currency system of a small village. By using satirical language and a taunting tone of voice while speaking of the king's kindness and the villagers' abundance of wealth, Candide demonstrates how new interpretations on nature can be brought about while poking fun at the effects of these changes.
At the beginning of the 17th chapter of Candide, we come to find that Candide and Cacambo are stranded after their horses die and they run out of supplies. They eventually come to the bank of a river where they find and take a canoe down the river searching for civilization. They end up on the shores of a village that is surrounded by unclimbable mountains. This village is known as El Dorado and it is unique for this time for multiple reasons. Since it is surrounded by these mountains, no outsiders can really enter or leave. This has made El Dorado into a utopian village. This means that everything is perfect in society and that there is hardly any controversy. This is shown when Candide and Cacambo speak with the old man and also when they speak to the king of El Dorado. When Candide and Cocambo speak with the old man, that is when they learn what El Dorado is truly like. They are fascinated over the fact that everyone concurs with everything that happens in the village and they are not persecuted for anything. They also all practice the same religion with one god and still are extremely supportive of science and philosophy. All of these things are extremely uncommon or unheard of to come across anywhere in the world at that time.
Voltaire first shows his mocking tone when Candide and Cacambo first arrive in El Dorado. After their canoe slams into the shore, they run into children who are playing with precious gemstones. When they are called back to their school, they just leave the stones where they were playing with them. Candide and Cacambo take the gemstones back to the school and try to give them to a schoolmaster who simply throws them back on the ground as if they are worth nothing. Precious stones, such as diamonds and emeralds are extremely rare and have very high values. So the act of the schoolmaster throwing back on the ground as if they were just dirty rocks shows that in El Dorado, the people either very wealthy or they do not have a currency system. We also see this idea of no currency again when Candide and Cacambo stay at the inn, which is extremely ornate. They are fed the finest foods and drinks made from cane sugar. To...