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Candide is a fictional satire of the optimism many philosophers had for life in general during the mid 1700’s written in response to Alexander Pope’s An Essay on Man. Written by Voltaire, the literary alias of Francois-Marie Arouet, the satire covers religion, the wealthy, love, why people thought natural disasters occurred and especially, philosophy. The novel even goes on to make fun of the art of literature by giving ridiculous chapter headings. Just about everything Voltaire put into Candide is designed to question and satirize real world injustices. In effect Candide is the 18th century equivalent of a modern day sitcom (Shmoop).
Just as modern day sitcoms expose the injustices of the world in an overly exaggerated and humorous manner, so too does Candide. As stated earlier, the story lampoons the ideas exhibited in An Essay on Man by boiling them down to the phrase “Everything is for the best in this best of all worlds.” This phrase is repeated over and over in Voltaire’s novel by a philosopher named Pangloss in the face of tragedies which clearly prove him wrong. This is the satire that is most easily picked up upon in the novel. The disasters that Voltaire depicts seem to happen to everyone with equal intensities to the point where every soul in the story is miserable yet Pangloss stubbornly insists that all the disasters are, in the long term, for the best.
By mocking the philosophers who are attempt to blindly stay optimistic towards a world in which something always seems to go wrong at the least opportune moment, Voltaire appeals to the lower classes of society. These people had to deal with what they were given and survive from day to day. To them, at least the more intelligent ones, this philosophical idea tha...


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...re. This feeling is only compounded by the fact that the upper-class absolutely hated the story; the book was banned within a month of its release. While reading it I actually found myself laughing at some of the occurrences and for that reason, found it hard to put the book down. As a result of the satire, the book was actually fun to read. Also I found that the lessons Candide attempts to convey are all pretty down-to-earth and logical. Like modern day sitcoms, Candide is able to capture its audience’s attention and then convey serious information in a fun and entertaining way.



Works Cited

Shmoop Editorial Team. "Candide." Shmoop.com. Shmoop University Inc., 11 Nov. 2008. Web. 28
Feb 2011.
Spacks, Patricia M. “Francois-Marie Arouet De Voltaire.” The Norton Anthology: Western
Literature. Ed. Sarah Lawall. 8th ed. Vol 2. New York: Norton & Company, 2006.


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