Essay PreviewMore ↓
In Candide, Voltaire sought to point out the fallacy of Gottfried Leibniz's theory of optimism and the hardships brought on by the resulting inaction toward the evils of the world. Voltaire's use of satire, and its techniques of exaggeration and 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 everything already was for the best, no matter how terrible it seemed. In this satire, Voltaire showed the world full of natural disasters and brutality. Voltaire also used contrast in the personalities of the characters to convey the message that Leibniz's philosophy should not be dealt with any seriousness. Leibniz, sometimes regarded as a Stoic or Fatalist because his philosophies were based on the idea that everything in the world was determined by fate, theorized that God, having the ability to pick from an infinite number of worlds, chose this world, "the best of all possible worlds." Although Voltaire chose that simple quality of Leibniz's philosophy to satirize, Leibniz meant a little more than just that. Even though his philosophy stated that God chose "the best of all possible worlds," he also meant that God, being the perfection he is, chose the best world available to him, unfortunately it was a world containing evil. It seems as though Voltaire wanted to ridicule Leibniz's philosophy so much that he chose to satirize only the literal meaning and fatal acceptance of evil of Leibniz's philosophy.
To get his point across in Candide, Voltaire created the character Dr. Pangloss, an unconditional follower of Leibniz's philosophy. Voltaire shows this early in the novel by stating, "He proved admirably that there is no effect without a cause and that, in this best of all possible worlds....(16)" Pangloss goes on to say that everything had its purpose and things were made for the best. For example, the nose was created for the purpose of wearing spectacles (Voltaire 16). Because of his "great knowledge," Candide, at this point a very naive and impressionable youth, regards Pangloss as the greatest philosopher in the world, a reverence that will soon be contradicted by contact with reality (Frautschi 75).
How to Cite this Page
"The Effective Satire of Voltaire's Candide." 123HelpMe.com. 15 Nov 2018
Need Writing Help?
Get feedback on grammar, clarity, concision and logic instantly.Check your paper »
- Use of Satire in Voltaire’s Candide Voltaire successfully uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about life. In his novel, Candide, Voltaire satirizes the philosopher Liebnitz's philosophy that this is the best of all possible worlds. In the novel, the perpetually optimistic and naive character, Candide, travels around the world, having various experiences that prove, at least to the reader, that evil does exist. In one particular passage, Voltaire uses explicit diction, exaggerated details and manipulated syntax in order to contrast the optimist's romantic view of battle with the horrible reality that is war.... [tags: Candide essays]
627 words (1.8 pages)
- ... Candide gets this philosophy from his teacher Pangloss, who is also an extreme optimist. Both Pangloss and Candide are faced with horrible suffering and misfortune, almost in spite of their optimistic outlook on life. 4. The novel is packed full of occurrences that directly oppose Candide’s philosophy. Candide is banished from the castle he lives in, travels to a new town where after a misunderstanding is forced to “run the gauntlet”, in other words be tortured by a plethora of armed soldiers, then serves in the army in a war where he witnesses mass carnage.... [tags: Candide, Voltaire, Best of all possible worlds]
1383 words (4 pages)
- Satire in Candide by Voltaire Voltaire who was a French writer, philosopher and one of the leaders of the Enlightenment is known as one of the greatest satirist ever. Voltaire wrote about important genres: tragedy, history, philosophy and fiction just as his English contemporary Samuel Johnson. American heritage dictionary defines satire as, "An artistic work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. Irony or caustic wit used to expose or attack human folly." The satirist adopts a critical attitude and usually presents his material with wit and humor.... [tags: Papers]
1463 words (4.2 pages)
- Use of Language in Candide A great philosopher Liebnitz once said that this is the best possible of all worlds. Voltaire disagrees. In Voltaire's Candide, the impartial narrator travels to distant lands and experiences a range of extremes. After having spent a great deal of time away from his homeland, and having seen more than most people see in a lifetime, the narrator is forced to conclude that this may not be the best possible world because of the reality of evil. Voltaire relates this point very effectively through his mastery of language and the choices he makes, both gramatically and content-related.... [tags: Candide essays]
663 words (1.9 pages)
- The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines satire as: “literary work holding up human vices and follies to ridicule or scorn.” Besides this definition satire can also be seen as the particular literary way of making possible the improvement of humanity and its institutions. In the three works: Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” Voltaire’s “Candide,” and Swift’s “A Modest Proposal” the authors indirectly criticize and ridicule human behavior and characteristics but with the goal for improving these faults rather than just demolishing them. In Moliere’s “Tartuffe,” although many things and behaviors are satirized, the play focuses mainly on the issue of religious hypocrisy.... [tags: Swift Voltaire Moliere]
915 words (2.6 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)
- Although Voltaire and Gronniosaw are similar in that their quest for enlightenment and individuality, they are also very different. Candide is a philosophical satirical novel that ingeniously shakes the misinterpretation of doctrinal optimism. Whilst A Narrative of the Life of James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw written by himself, (For the purpose of this essay described as, ‘A Narrative.’) is an autobiographical, spiritual account of Gronniosaw’s travels. This essay will look at the narrative techniques, and the distinctive features, of the language used in both extracts.... [tags: narrative techniques and distinctive features]
1466 words (4.2 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)
Satire Found in Candiate by Voltaire, Don Quixote by Miguel de Cervates, and A Modest Proposal by Jonathon Swift
- ... Horatian satire gently pokes fun at social vice through light-hearted humor. In Don Quixote, the author mocks the society he lived in: people lacking the manners of knights. In the story, Don Quixote unhappily witnesses a boy being abused by a farmer, who he believes is a knight, the farmer promises no further injustice to the boy and “swears to [Don Quixote] by all orders of knighthood” and Don Quixote, believing in the word of knights, leaves the farmer flogging the boy even more severely (1542).... [tags: flaws, society, horation, juvenialism]
672 words (1.9 pages)
- “Satire is a sort of glass, wherein beholders do generally discover everybody’s face but their own” (Swift). Such beholders, as Jonathan Swift astutely emphasizes, are intended, through guidance of satiric narrative, to recognize social or political plights. In some satires, as in Swift’s own A Modest Proposal, the use of absurd, blatant exaggeration is intended to capture an indolent audience’s attention regarding the social state of the poor. Yet even in such a direct satire, there exists another layer of meaning.... [tags: Analysis, Jonathan Swift]
2526 words (7.2 pages)
A contrast to the views of Pangloss is the character Martin. Martin, a pessimist, is a friend and advisor to Candide whom he meets on his journey. Martin continuously tries to prove to Candide that there is little virtue, morality, and happiness in the world. When a cheerful couple is seen walking and singing, Candide tells Martin, "At least you must admit that these people are happy (80)." Martin answers Candide's comment with the reply, "I wager they are not (80)." Martin suggests that Candide invite the couple to dine at his hotel. As the young girl, now found to be Paquette, tells her story, Martin takes pleasure in knowing he has won the wager. Another contrast to this "best of all possible worlds" is Eldorado. Voltaire describes Eldorado as an extremely peaceful and serene country. Eldorado, a place that is "impossible" to find, has no laws, jails, war, or need for material goods. Voltaire uses Eldorado as an epitome of the "best of all possible worlds." It contrasts the real outside world in which war and suffering are everyday occurrences.
Another example of how Voltaire ridicules Pangloss' optimistic philosophy is the mention of the Lisbon earthquake and fire. Even though the disastrous earthquake took over 30,000 lives, Pangloss still upheld his philosophical optimism by stating, "For all this is for the very best...For it is impossible that things should not be where they are.(26)" The disaster in Lisbon affected Voltaire's life so much that he wrote the Poem on the Lisbon Disaster, but Pangloss' philosophy said that the Lisbon earthquake was necessary in the course of nature, and there was definitely a rationale for the situation.
War is another evil which Voltaire satirizes in Candide. Voltaire used the Bulgarians and their brutality as a basis for his satire on war. Voltaire writes how Candide was captured by the Bulgarians and is given a choice "to be beaten thirty-six times by the whole regiment, or receive twelve lead bullets at once in his brain (19)." Being the "hero" he is, Candide chooses to run the gauntlet. Instead of the thirty-six times he was to run the gauntlet, our "hero" made it only two until he pleaded to the Bulgarians to smash in his head (19). Another satire of war included in Candide is the Bulgarians' burning of the Abarian village "in accordance with the rules of international law.(20)" Voltaire also shows his satire on war in that the Bulgarian soldiers do not just kill other people, they rape, disembowel, and dismember innocent women and children. In fact, Candide's training as a soldier involved being brutalized and beaten. Voltaire uses this example to demonstrate the inhuman vulgarity of many belligerent groups. He thought that this torture was cruel and unjustified. If this were the "best of all possible worlds," innocent people would not be harmed, and violent peoples such as the Bulgarians would not exist.
Upon arrival in England, Candide witnesses another instance of brutality, the execution of an admiral because of his failure to win a battle(Voltaire 78). A reply to Candide's questioning of the act is, "...it is a good thing to kill an admiral from time to time to encourage the others (78-79)." This is an obvious allusion to an incident Voltaire himself witnessed. Admiral Byng of England was court-martialed for the same outrageous reason, and although Voltaire tried to stop the execution, Byng was still killed (Durant and Durant 725).
Although the novel Candide was partially written for entertainment purposes, it was written primarily to satirize the views of Leibniz's philosophy. Voltaire looked at the world with the idea that there could be something done about all of the evil in the world. He achieved his goal of satirizing Leibniz by tearing apart Pangloss' philosophy, using Martin as a contrast to Pangloss, showing the destruction caused by natural disasters, and the brutality of war.
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.
Voltaire. Candide. In Candide, Zadig and Selected Stories. Trans. Donald Frame, New York: Penguin Group, 1961