Voltaire's Use Of Satire In Candide

1063 Words5 Pages

The age of Enlightenment was the most important cultural movement of the eighteenth century that allowed men to leave their “self-caused immaturity” and to rebel against fear and prejudice (azquotes.com). Philosophes aspired to form a new society based on reasons, instead of religion. They criticized traditional religion and oppressive societies and urged freedom of thought. Their fight for rationalism and secularism led foundations for modern worldview. Francois-Marie Arouet, more commonly known as Voltaire, was one of the greatest ambassadors of Enlightenment ideas, and he was able to spread his message using his novel Candide. Voltaire uses satire throughout the story to mock religious fanaticism, intolerance, and superstition and to advocate …show more content…

In the story, Doctor Pangloss, a confident proponent of optimism, became an “appalling beggar” (Voltaire 9). Originally, Pangloss claimed that “everything is necessarily for the best purpose” and that there was always a way to look at the world with a positive lense. He believed that evil could not exist on earth because God is perfect and that He had created a foolproof universe. However, his own theory was proven false with his downfall (Voltaire 4). This horrific turn of events even caused Candide to ask: “Ah best of all worlds, where are you now?” (Voltaire 10). From this point, the Doctor Pangloss’s theory began to break apart, and Candide began to doubt the existence of “the best of all possible worlds.” Soon later, Candide would eventually realize that Doctor Pangloss is “a mania for insisting that all is well when things are going badly” (Voltaire 48). Voltaire’s own experiences also led him to disapprove the theory of optimism. In 1750s, he became infuriated by the injustice and horrific natural disasters that he witnessed. As a result, he wrote about the disastrous earthquake in 1755 “that destroyed three-quarters of Lisbon” (Voltaire 14). According to the theory of optimism, this kind of catastrophe should never occur; it even made Pangloss to wonder, “What can be the sufficient reason for this phenomenon?” (Voltaire 13). This tragedy shows the exact reason why people cannot always be positive; there are some events in life that will break a person. As Doctor Pangloss and Candide observes the cruelty of the world, they realize the stupidity in humanity and the apathy of nature. As Pangloss struggles to find the answer to the malice of the natural world, the audience can understand that the world is unfair and that God is

Open Document