Theme Of Sexism In Voltaire's Candide

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In the book Candide, Voltaire is critiquing and satirizing sexism. Voltaire talks about sexism by using exaggeration and by reducing it to absurdity. He does this by having women being raped multiple times. This idea of rape portrays how women weren’t treated with respect at that time period. Women were raped because of their beauty and how weak they were in terms of rights. As a result, women would just experience rape since it was their way of life so much so that they even believed that the more often you were raped, the more virtuous you are. When Voltaire describes how women were raped, he uses a humorous and offensive tone because Voltaire wants to exaggerate this topic about rape. He expands on how women were raped by including every…show more content…
Women didn't have that many choices in order for them to gain power in life. They could become the mistress of a powerful and rich man or marry into a good family. Because of that, women were treated in a disrespectful way that led to rape, which Voltaire tries to emphasize the importance of their role. He uses this idea to grab people's attention so they would be well aware of how serious rape is. If Voltaire was capitalizing and reinforcing sexism, then those who were raped wouldn’t be telling each other their stories on how they were raped. However, to emphasize this point, Voltaire needs to make it funny or offend people for attention. Voltaire uses their story to highlight how serious rape was, by telling us that among women it became a common topic to talk about. If Voltaire hadn’t talked about rape as if it wasn’t a problem then, many would be thinking that he’s trying to reinforce sexism. In Candide, Voltaire is critiquing and satirizing…show more content…
For instance, in Candide it states, “A lady of honor may be raped once, but it strengthens her virtue”(32). Cunegonde has been raped and sold multiple times, but it seems like she’s still positive in her life. Women in our time period would have panicked and would have felt ashamed that they were raped, but Cunegonde wasn’t. Cunegonde describes her struggle as if it was a dramatic struggle in trying to resist the Bulgar soldiers, but she doesn’t think of it as an unusual thing to happen. Voltaire tries to tell us that women at that time period were vulnerable. Because of that, Cunegonde is blinded by the real situation of women. In Cunegonde's life she has only experienced rape and being sold so, it’s highly unlikely that her perspective of women being raped will change. Women probably felt offended because Cunegonde is basically saying how it’s better to be raped more than once in order for you to be virtuous. Besides women, some men probably felt responsible for how women were treated and all of this happened was due to men feeling superior to women. Voltaire uses the idea of rape being virtuous, so more people are aware of how serious rape is. Women being raped multiple times makes you think that women are blinded by how they are treated instead of actually realizing what the real problem is. Without a
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