Voltaire’s first attack on female inferiority came in the form of Cunegonde, a less than traditional romantic heroine. Cunegonde was the daughter of the German Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh with whom Candide lived. Her name itself is sexually suggestive being a pun on the French and Latin word for female genitals. She was nothing...
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...its emphasis on reason, analysis, and individual freedom. Voltaire personified that new way of thinking and exercised those ideals in Candide. Above his commentary on philosophy, religion, economics, and war, were his forthright declarations about the injustices forced upon eighteenth century women. Women were oppressed by misogynistic men that who claimed ownership over their bodies. They were sexually exploited in a world where a woman’s virtue was all that made her worthy. They were kept hidden in the private sphere of the home either as a wife or servant. Their survival was totally dependent on men. They were victims of war and sold as livestock. Voltaire, even if he did not believe that women were as precious as men, saw the cruelty in those practices and purposefully wrote two distinctly different female characters in Candide to illuminate their sexist reality.
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