Voltaire's Candide

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On November 21, 1694, Francois-Marie Arouet, otherwise known as Voltaire, was born in Paris. The youngest of five, son to Francois and Marie Arouet, Voltaire grew

up in a household that had come to know the pleasantries of upper class french society.

Marie, his mother, had gained the family access to Louis XIV court through her realtives. Because of Voltaire’s priviledged lineage he was able to study under the Abbe de Chateaneuf, at the Louis-le-Grand Jesuit College in Paris. Voltaire spoke very highly of his Abbe in later years. After ten years at school, he was sent to study law in Paris under his fathers orders.

Early the following year, 1715, Frances most famous absolutist monarch died and

five year old great-grandson inherited the throne. Phillippe d’Orleans was named the

regent to the underaged king. D’Orleans, considered philosophically liberal by some,

caused many problems for Voltaire, including his imprisonments in the Bastille. The first was from May 16, 1717 to April 11, 1718, the second was in 1726. After his first confinment Francois Marie Arouet adopter the name Voltaire, which later became synonymous for horatian sarcasm towards the aristocracy of France, whether it was truly

his work or not. This is how Voltaire once again found himself in the Bastille. Falsely

accused of the authorship of a politically abrasive poem, he was imprisoned. Once released Voltaire was forced to travel to England, but returned to France three years later, in 1729, and began his prolific career.

One of Voltaire’s most notable pieces is Candide, published in 1759. It is a satire of many things, especially war, religion and those who hold optimism through a life of tereble hardships. Voltaire used his life experiences to promote a change in societies view of themselves by attacking the optimism that left so many blind to the real world and what he thought to be the path to contentedness.

Between 1750 and 1753 Voltaire stayed with Frederick II of Prussia, also known

as Frederick the Great. Fredericks reign had been that of a warrior king. He had started

conflicts in Europe that led to the war of the Austrian Succession and the Seven Years

War. ( ) In Candide, Voltaire first satarizes war by saying, “ men were only made to help each other.” (pg 19) This is a direct jab at Frederick and war, because the ma...

... middle of paper ... boys. When the old lady meets the eunuch, he says, I was born in naples, where they castrate two or three thousand children each year. Some of them die of it, others acquire more beautiful voices than that of any women, still others go off to rule states. In my case, the operation was a great success.

Later that same eunuch describes how,

He had been sent to the King of Morocco by a Christian power to make a treaty with that monarch whereby he would be supplied with gunpowder, cannons and ships to help him wipe out the trade of other Christian powers.

So, the church has not only castrated this man, along with thousands of others, but they have sent him to help facilitate a war, that will kill thousands of men. The church doesn’t stop at destroying the lives of the opposition, they cripple there own followers. It is obvious why Voltaire saw the church as a body of selfishness and greed. The ultimate religiously satirical passage comes, when Candide is in the land of Eldorado. He says to the old man he has met, “What! You have no manks who teach, argue, rule, plot and burn people who don’t agree with them?” The old man replies, “ We’d be mad if we did.”
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