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Use of Satire in Voltaire's Candide Essay

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Successful Use of Satire in Voltaire's Candide


Voltaire's Candide is the story of how one man's adventures affect his philosophy on life. Candide begins his journey full of optimism that he lives in "the best of all possible worlds," but he learns that it is naïve to say that good will eventually come of any evil. 

Voltaire successfully uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about many aspects of European society in the eighteenth century.  He criticizes religion, the evils found in every level of society, and a philosophy of optimism when faced with an intolerable world. 

Candide portrays religious persecution as one of the most worst aspects of society.  Voltaire rejects the superstitious beliefs that the church endorsed.  After the great earthquake in Lisbon, the church seems to think that persecuting a few innocent civilians in an auto-da-fè will prevent another disaster.  The church should be the most civilized aspect of a society, but Candide is flogged in time to a musical procession, Pangloss is hanged, and two others are burned.  Voltaire illustrates the irony of the church as a source of violence with the warring churchmen that Candide finds in the Jesuit state in the New World. 

The Spanish priests in the New World operate a government where "the Fathers have everything, the people nothing;...they wage war against the King of Spain and the King of Portugal...they kill Spaniards" (Voltaire 53).  Ironically, the priests in Paraguay also hold offices in the army.  The Baron, for example, holds the title of Reverend Father Colonel.  Voltaire stresses the irony of a official of the church that preaches "Thou shalt not kill" to be an army officer who's job is to murder.  The cruelty of Christiani...


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...ught good out of evil, but because he has made his own happiness.  "'Well said,' replied Candide, 'but we must cultivate our garden'"  (Voltaire 120).        

Works Cited and Consulted:

Bottiglia, William. "Candide's Garden." Voltaire: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.

Durant, Will, Ariel Durant. The Story of Civilization: Part IX: The Age of Voltaire. New York: Simon and Schuster, 1965.

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. 1965.

Richter, Peyton. Voltaire. Boston: Twayne Publishers, 1980.

Voltaire's Candide and the Critics. California: Wadsworth Publishing Company, Inc., 1966.

Voltaire. Candide. New York: Viking Publishers, 1976.


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