New Thinking in A Modest Proposal, Tartuffe, and Candide
Three Works Cited Writers use personality traits and events to change the classical ideals. Majority of the writer's focus is to change people's attitude's. Jonathan Swift, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin Moliere, Francois-Marie Arquet de Voltaire use characterization and plot to challenge the themes of the Neo-Classical period.
In A Modest Proposal, Jonathan Swift challenges the Neo-classical period by creating a sense of instability in their way of thinking. He attacks the society by carelessly endorsing cannibalism in hopes to help Ireland through their economic crisis. He demonstrates this by humbly proposing and assuring "that a young healthy child, well nursed, is, at a year old, a most delicious, nourishing, and wholesome food." (Swift, 485) Implying that society should eat children shows that the individual (the child) is seen as an unimportant individual to society; therefore, is not valued when considering an effective resolution to their situation. This provides criticism to the Neo-Classical beliefs that society is more important than the individual. The Neo-Classic's logic and reasoning aspect is attacked by Swift's persuasion that eating a child is a valid response to help fix their oppression. His introduction clearly states that his purpose is" for Preventing the Children of poor People in Ireland, from being a Burden to their Parents or Country, and for making them beneficial to the Publick." (Swift 483) His reasoning for the proposal is ultimately satisfied through his sound thinking that evidently has nothing to do with his feelings about the matter. The narrator than proceeds to give the audience justification of his statement, and therefore attempting to challenge the Neo-Classic's fact that logic and reasoning is more important than a person's emotion's. Optimism in the Neo-Classical period is criticized through the projector's tone in the proposal. Swift demands the audience to recognize the narrator's purpose "having no other motive than the public good of my country, by advancing our trade, providing for infant's, relieving the poor, and giving some pleasure to the rich." (Swift 489) The speaker optimistically believes that his idea is for the best. If Swift did not believe that his idea would not have a positive outcome he would not have suggested. Regardless of Swift's inhumane suggestion, which is negative, he only tries to reveal the positive of the situation. This feeling of insecurity is his way of disparaging the Irish and English government.
In Tartuffe, Moliere's use's plot to defend and oppose characters that symbolize and ridicule habitual behavior's that was imposed during the neo-classical time period. His work, known as a comedy of manners, consists of flat characters, with few and similar traits, and that always restore some kind of peace in the end. He down plays society as a whole by creating a microseism, where everyone in the family has to be obedient, respectful, and mindful of the head of the home, which is played by the father Orgon. Mariane shows her obedience when she replies "To please you, sir, is what delights me best." (Moliere 324,11) Shortly afterwards, Orgon commands Mariane to take Tartuffe as her husband even though she is not interested in him at all. Orgon's command shows how men are dominate and have control over social order. Mariane's strong obedience to her father (Orgon) supports the Neo-Classical element that the individual is not as important as society. Moliere discusses logic and reasoning by blindfolding Orgon to the reality of Tartuffe's intentions that causes him to make dumb decisions. In the process, Orgon disregard's his family when told of Tartuffe's intentions. After Tartuffe cons Orgon into believing that Damis's accusation is false Orgon replies, "I know your motives, I now you wish him ill:/Yes, all of you - wife, children, servants, all - /Conspire against him and desire his fall." (Moliere 341-342,46-48) Orgon then excommunicates his own son, indicating that his reasoning is deferred due to his ignorance. This in due course challenges the Neo-Classical belief that logic and reasoning is more important than emotion because Orgon acts solely on his emotions. He feels as if his family has turned against his friend so he operates upon his feelings. When Damis returns home and Tartuffe (instead of Orgon) gets locked up, order is restored. At the end, the family commends the officer for apprehending the true criminal by saying, "Heaven be praised! / We're safe. / I can't believe the danger's past." (Moliere 361, 84-87) This is when Moliere demonstrated the common saying that "what happens in the dark will eventually come to the light, therefore allowing confusion to re-establish its order. Moliere developed a series of flat characters, which satirized the Neo-Classic belief system.
In Candide, Voltaire's approach is called black comedy. Many devastating factor's play into the character's lives that causes the reader to be amused in a cynical way in order to guard their inner feelings. He challenges society as a whole by the way he implements real life occurrences into his writing and makes them come alive. This becomes evident when Dr. Pangloss told Candide what came of Cunegonde at the castle of Westphalia after he left. Pangloss described her as being "disemboweled by the Bulgar soldiers, after having been raped to the absolute limit of human endurance." (Voltaire 524) This causes the imagination to display a vivid picture of the severity of the situation. Furthermore he challenges order by illustrating the human condition. Candide's confusion causes him to ask, "have they always been liars, traitors, ingrates, thieves, weaklings, sneaks, cowards, backbiters, gluttons, drunkards, misers, climbers, killer's, calumniators, sensualists, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools?" (Voltaire 557) There is an ongoing war between people, and all the while Candide and the others are attempting to maintain. Dr. Pangloss represents the optimism that Voltaire challenges. Pangloss show this by saying, "it was love; love, the consolation of the human race, the preservative of the universe, the soul of all sensitive beings, love, gentle love." (Voltaire 525) He challenges, " optimism by his representation of Dr. Pangloss. Dr. Pangloss's blind optimistic approach allows him to forget about the fighting that is occurring amongst people and he only sees love.
Satirical approaches to writing were used to change the captivated way of thinking during the late 17th and 18th centuries. The Neo-Classic time period contributed in the expansion of people's view of life.
Swift, Jonathan. "The Norton Anthology of World Literature." A Modest Proposal. W.W> Norton & Company: New York and London, 2002. 483-489.
Moliere, Jean-Baptiste Poquelin. "The Norton Anthology of World Literature." Tartuffe. W.W> Norton & Company: New York and London, 2002. 313-361.
Voltaire, Francois-Marie Arquet de Voltaire. "The Norton Anthology of World Literature." Candide. W.W> Norton & Company: New York and London, 2002. 520-580.
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