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Intelligent Satire in Voltaire's Candide Essay

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Intelligent Satire in Candide

 
   In the story Candide, Voltaire uses the experiences of the character Candide and dialogue between characters to dispute the theory by other philosophers that "Everything is for the best in this best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire). Voltaire believed that the society that he lived in had many flaws, flaws which are illustrated throughout the story. Voltaire uses satire to take aim at the military, religion, and societies' emphasis of physical beauty, to illustrate that we do not live in the best of all possible worlds.

 

One institution that Voltaire takes aim at in Candide is the institution of the military. Voltaire attacks of the military using dialogue between Candide and Martin as they speak during their passage along the shores of England. On their journey they witness the execution of an admiral in the English army. Martin explains to Candide that this admiral was executed for not killing enough people in a battle with a rival French admiral. With this statement, Voltaire illustrates that the military has lost its sense of duty, becoming a machine of brutality instead of an institution to protect the lives of citizens. The manner in which the execution is carried out further illustrates the flaws within this particular society. Instead of secretly executing the admiral, the military made the admiral's execution a ceremony for the public. With this chapter of Candide, Voltaire creates a satirical and brutal view of the not only the military, but also of the citizens of England who come to watch. In most societies, citizens are appalled by such behavior, but in this instance the citizens are accepting of these actions and even condone the murder. All of these points are illu...


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...splay what he considers to be the best of all possible worlds. In the story of Candide's travel to the land of Eldorado, Voltaire creates his view of a perfect society, one in which people are kind to one another, money and jewels have no real value to be exploited, and where government is honest. This section of Candide is different from all others, essentially the only positive section of Candide's travels. After analyzing the work, it seems as if the story was not written as a fictional work, but rather a commentary on the state of society throughout Europe.

 

Works Cited and Consulted:

Frautschi, R.L. Barron's Simplified Approach to Voltaire: Candide. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1968.

Lowers, James K, ed. "Cliff Notes on Voltaire's Candide". Lincoln: Cliff Notes, Inc. 1995.

Voltaire. Candide. New York: Viking Publishers, 1998.


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