François-Marie Arouet, or Voltaire was an Enlightenment thinker, whose ideas are portrayed in his satiric novel, Candide. In this short novel, Voltaire critiques French society of the time, and attacks Leibnizian optimism through his sarcastic representation of Professor Pangloss, one of the optimist philosophers. Throughout the book, he describes the reality of society, which is that of misery and pain. This novel was written in 1759 during the Age of Enlightenment, when Voltaire was already a known writer who was famous for his satirical wit. Enlightenment thinkers were mostly philosophers who invested their thoughts in reasoning, or people who applied the ideas from the Scientific Revolution to society at the time. Voltaire, a leader of the French movement of philosophy, argues that society should base their actions on reasoning rather than what the Catholic Church decides for them. He pushed culture towards science-based reasoning and separation of church and state. With the Age of Enlightenment and Voltaire’s philosophy, Candide is a great story that both entertained the audience of the time and taught them a lesson on what the future of civilization should be. The plotline of this tragedy and love story starts with Candide, an illegitimate child falling in love with the Baron’s daughter Cunégonde. He is influenced to kiss her by the ways of his optimist tutor, Pangloss, who sees the world as “all for the best” in his philosophy. This causes him to be evicted from the castle, and from then he experiences a series of events that cause him and others misery, as he tries to find his love, Cunégonde. This involves events appropriate to the time period, such as the...
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...y attacking the Catholic Church. He feels as though some of the methods such as the Inquisition add to the primitive violence that 18th century civilization should not have. He even goes as far to say that with the current events of the time, European society was no better than the “savages” of the New World. Ultimately, Voltaire contributed to the Enlightenment in his views of reason over faith, and it is clearly shown through his plotline. Voltaire was successful in exposing his ideas to society, as he is considered a very influential figure in French Enlightenment and his ideas are reflected in society today. Today, most countries have church separated from state, just as Voltaire tried through convince through his philosophy. If Voltaire were alive today, he would see that society has in fact reformed from the 18th century into a rational and reasonable culture.
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