In its time, satire was a powerful tool for political assault on Europe's corrupt and deteriorating society. Voltaire's Candide uses satire to vibrantly and sarcastically portray optimism, a philosophical view from the Enlightenment used to bury the horrors of 18th century life: superstition, sexually transmitted diseases, aristocracy, the church, tyrannical rulers, civil and religious wars, and the cruel punishment of the innocent.
Through the steady adversity faced by Candide, Voltaire brings up important questions about how the nature of optimism appears to commoners. Pangloss's philosophy of "the best of all possible worlds" - an example of the misleading optimistic theory advocated by the philosophers of the Enlightenment which Voltaire deems absurd, - is "listened to attentively and believed innocently" (2) by the young and naive Candide at the beginning of the novel. However, as the novel progresses Candide begins to balks at this optimist idea, in the end suggesting to his comrades to "cultivate our garden" (87). This, his own conclusion, can be interpreted as humble work is the only answer to a life continuously plagued with bad luck. Through the actions of his silly characters, Voltaire preaches that man is unable to understanding the evils in this world and concludes that the basic goal of life is not to seek pure and trivial happiness, rather it is to learn to survive.
"The Enlightenment" is used to characterize many new ideas and advancements in 18th century philosophy, science, and medicine. The principal trait of Enlightenment philosophy is the belief that people create a better environment in which to live. Pangloss, the...
... middle of paper ...
...the Enlightenment, he uses Candide as a means to scrutinize the absolute optimism of his fellow thinkers. Voltaire's use of satire throughout the novel is intended to identify inequality, brutality, and racism, all of the things that optimism intends to cover. The effect of such satire is that it sheds light on these injustices and has them viewed as intolerable by the reader. Voltaire drew attention to the actuality of the 18th century, while Enlightenment philosophers tried to use optimism to mask the horrors. By acknowledging that there are problems in society, Voltaire's anti-optimism view causes the population to ponder and draw out reform ideas.
Bottiglia, William. "Candide's Garden." Voltaire: A Collection of Critical Essays. New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, Inc., 1968.
Voltaire. Candide. New York: Dover Publications, Inc., 1991
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Candide: Voltaire against Leibniz’ Optimism. François-Marie Arouet, better known under his pen name Voltaire, was one of the leading philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. He is considered the epitome of the eighteenth century, which has been named le siècle de Voltaire. His philosophical novel or conte, Candide, was published in 1759 and remains one of his most well known and widely read of his works—particularly for the English reader. In one part of his Columbia dissertation “Voltaire and Leibniz,” Richard A.... [tags: Philosophy]
1835 words (5.2 pages)
- The eighteenth century was a crucial changing point in the European history because of The Enlightenment. The Enlightenment was revolutionary because of Voltaire, a writer that used his ideas to attack the established Catholic Church, and to propagate the freedom of religion, scientific thoughts, skepticism and experiential philosophy. Voltaire was born in 1694, a year that was under the regiment of Louis XIV. At that time, the aristocracy ruled France in an extreme way that most commoners were struggling in poverty.... [tags: European History, Revolution, Religion]
1132 words (3.2 pages)
- Voltaire was the French author of the novella Candide, also known as "Optimism" (Durant and Durant 724). Famous as a playwright and essayist, Voltaire’s Candide is the book where he tries to point out the fallacy of Gottfried William von Leibniz's theory of Optimism. He uses satire, and techniques of exaggeration to contrast highlight the evil and brutality of war and the world in general when men are meekly accepting of their fate. Leibniz, a German philosopher and mathematician of Voltaire's time, developed the idea that the world they were living in at that time was "the best of all possible worlds." This systematic optimism shown by Leibniz is the philosophical system that believed ever... [tags: Optimism by Voltaire]
1163 words (3.3 pages)
- A Comparison of the Satire of Candide and Gulliver's Travels An impartial observer has the ability to make the most critical and objective observation on society and the behavior of man. This impartial observer would see the truth as it is. This same premise may be applied to literary works. A naive character or narrator may be used as an impartial observer, who reveals social truths to the audience through his or her naivete. As Maurois has noted, in writing about Candide, by Voltaire," It was novel of apprenticeship, that is, the shaping of an adolescent's ideas by rude contact with the universe" (101).... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2203 words (6.3 pages)
- Candide: A Satire On The Enlightenment Works Cited Missing Candide is an outlandishly humorous, far-fetched tale by Voltaire satirizing the optimism espoused by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. It is the story of a young man’s adventures throughout the world, where he witnesses much evil and disaster. Throughout his travels, he adheres to the teachings of his tutor, Pangloss, believing that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds." Candide is Voltaire’s answer to what he saw as an absurd belief proposed by the Optimists - an easy way to rationalize evil and suffering.... [tags: Voltaire Candide Essays]
596 words (1.7 pages)
- Comparing the Social Criticism of Voltaire's Candide and Samuel Johnson's Rasselas Samuel Johnson and Voltaire were both writers of enormous social conscience in the eighteenth century. It is not surprising then to discover that both men wrote short tales dealing primarily with criticism of the human condition. Ironically, these books were written and published within weeks of each other in 1759 (Enright 16). Johnson's Rasselas and Voltaire's Candide are strikingly similar in their use of the episodic and romantic picaresque motifs.... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2001 words (5.7 pages)
- Naivete and Satire in Jonathan Swifts' Gulliver's Travels and Voltaire's Candide A child has the ability to make the most critical and objective observation on society and the behavior of man. How is this possible. A child has yet to mature and lacks proper education and experience. However, it is for this very reason that a child would make the perfect social scientist; his or her naivete may provide an excellent means of objective criticism and most often satire. A child's curious nature and hunger for knowledge would bring about an unbiased questioning of social structures, minus the brainwashing of these very institutions, and his or her vulnerability would expose any soc... [tags: comparison compare contrast essays]
2286 words (6.5 pages)
- Voltaire's Attack on Optimism in Candide Leibnitz emphasized, in his Discours de Metaphysique (Discourse on Metaphysics) (1686) the role of a benevolent creator. He called the constituent components of the universe monads, and while the philosophy of monads is of little concern to readers of Candide, the conclusion which Leibnitz drew from these monads is crucial to an understanding of optimism. Leibnitz argued that all of these monads were linked in a complex chain of cause and effect and that this linking had been done by a divine creator as he created the harmonious universe.... [tags: Candide essays]
1281 words (3.7 pages)
- Use of Satire to Target Religion, Military, and Optimism in Voltaire's Candide In his work, Candide, Voltaire uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about many aspects of European society in the eighteenth century. Voltaire successfully criticizes religion, the military, and the philosophy of optimism. Religious leaders are the targets of satire throughout Candide. Voltaire portrays the religious clergy as men who use their positions to further their own causes. In addition, the priests keep the less fortunate oppressed, so the clergy members can continue to enjoy extravagant luxuries.... [tags: Candide Voltaire essays]
603 words (1.7 pages)
- 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... [tags: Candide essays Voltaire ]
1563 words (4.5 pages)