Oppression Of Women In Voltaire's Candide

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In Candide, Voltaire discusses Cunegonde, Paquette, and the Old Woman and the exploitation the women faces during the 18th century. They were raped and was sexually exploited regardless of being from a well to do family or from a royal home. These female characters have very little importance in Candide. With the way Voltaire characterized Cunegonde, Paquette, and the Old Woman, Voltaire draws our attention to gender roles and the incompetence of women in the 1800s. These women were all natural survivors in my view.
Cunegonde is the daughter of a wealthy German lord, she is presented in an affirmative term. She is “seventeen years old, rosy-cheeked, fresh, buxom, appetizing”. Even Candide muses about exchanging his weak male persona for her
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Hence the reason she was only referred to as “The Old Woman”. Throughout the story, she is seen as being ugly. She was the daughter of a Pope. She experienced the death of a fiancé, was raped by pirates, and was turned slave with her mother. After all these, she becomes the servant to Cunegonde, she is wise, and loyal to her mistress. Paquette, on the other hand, seem to be the only woman in Candide that views her situation with a form sadness. After she was kicked out of the baron’s castle, she became a prostitute so that she will be able to make a living. She was “forced to continue this terrible profession that you men find so pleasant, while to us women, it is but an abyss of misery”. Throughout the story, Paquette is the only one who complains about her position and that she is…show more content…
Wollstonecraft also worried that education is also sacrificed in order to pursue beauty to secure a husband. Wollstonecraft states that, “strength in body and mind are sacrificed to the libertine notions of beauty, to the desire of establishing themselves, -- the only way women can rise in the world, --by marriage.” Wollstonecraft by making this statement, is stating the situation that women are forced into by society. In Candide, Cunegonde was in a similar situation. She was admired by Candide for her beauty from the beginning to the end of the story. Candide travels all over the world so that he can get back to the Cunegonde. But when he eventually finds her, he sees that she is no longer beautiful. “[Cunegonde] was washing dishes here, and she’s ugly”. This passage represents the social practice that Wollstonecraft is so critical of. Once Candide realizes that Cunegonde is ugly, he has “no desire to marry
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