VoltaireS Candide Essay Research Paper Voltaire

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Voltaire?S Candide Essay, Research Paper Voltaire’s most classic work, Candide, is a satiric assault on most everything that was prevalent in society during the author’s lifetime. The entire novel can be regarded as a bleak story where every character compares life stories to see whose life is worse. Just when the novel cannot get anymore morbid or depressing, it does, to a much greater degree. While Candide is generally considered a universal denunciation, it is optimism that Voltaire is attacking to the greatest degree. However, there are numerous other satirical themes throughout the novel worth discussing. These other areas of mockery include aristocratic snobbery, religious bigotry, militarism, and human nature. There is good reason that Voltaire was so fed up with

optimism, or more specifically, Leibnizian optimism. During the decade in which Candide was originally composed, this brand of what Voltaire considered ludicrous optimism was in full swing. This branch of optimism gets its name from Gottfried Leibniz, one of the rationale leaders of the day springing off of Descartes. This optimism states that there is evil in the world, but that reason could explain evil. He believed that there were certain truths even God could not alter, such as two plus two equaling four. Since this has to be the case, there were limits when God created the universe, thus he was working with an already flawed system. Leibniz goes on to say that this being the case, a perfect world is impossible, but Earth is the best of all possible worlds. Now, while

Voltaire was hearing that everything is for the best from his contemporaries, there were numerous drastic things going on in Europe and his life. There was a tremendous earthquake killing 100,000 people in Lisbon, the bloody and savage Seven Years War, and he was dealing with the death of his close companion and mistress of fifteen years. While all these terrible things were happening, it is no wonder Voltaire had a little problem swallowing the “all is for the best” pill. All the foolish optimism actually had the exactly opposite effect on him, and Candide was his way of expressing his views. His satire of optimism can be seen throughout the book, but most heavily through the character of Pangloss the philosopher. Pangloss and his ludicrous optimism make an impression on the

reader immediately and are constantly reinforced throughout the satire. His logic is so flawed that he comes across as an utter imbecile. He suggests that noses are shaped the way they are so that glasses will fit them. He even goes so far as to suggest that the venereal disease he is infected with is a blessing because the disease also is associated with the discovery of chocolate and the New World. He also views himself being burnt at the stake and being chained in a boat good things. However, the real satire poking fun of the whole European fascination with Leibnizian optimism does not lie in Pangloss’ stupidity, but in all the other characters reaction to Pangloss. With such absurd reasoning, one would think his contemporaries would ridicule Pangloss. However, the exact

opposite is true. Pangloss is referred to as “the most profound metaphysician in Germany,” and he is highly respected. This is very direct assault at Leibniz and his followers. Voltaire really makes sure he goes out of his way to rip apart every part of Leibniz’s rationale. The book is filled with morbidity and cruelty. There are numerous brutal murders, a mentioning of buttocks being sliced to be eaten, rape, greed, captivity, and savagery. Voltaire is daring optimists to explain how “everything is for the best” in the world he created. Although the satire of optimism is the main focus of Candide, Voltaire did make sure he ridiculed aristocratic snobbery as well. He pokes fun of the aristocrats mainly through Cunegund’s family and Don Fernando. The beginning of all