The Enlightenment Satire

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The Enlightenment was a quintessential part of shaping the way people think today. Many of the same ideas established during the Enlightenment are still prevalent in modern society. For the first time in history, people thought for themselves. They questioned the validity and accuracy of the information they were told. People advocated for logic and reason as opposed to blind faith. Jonathan Swift, Voltaire, and Moliere all illustrated the changes taking place in the Enlightenment society. In Jonathan Swift’s A Modest Proposal, the reader is given a bizarre and unethical solution to a common problem. At first glance, the reader would dismiss this work as absolutely ridiculous. Swift writes in his work, “There is likewise another great advantage…show more content…
Actually, Moliere would even find himself in hot water for pushing the boundaries and making it blatantly obvious who he was satirizing. Moliere’s Tartuffe gave the audience a satirical look at those who choose the life of piety. In Moliere’s opinion, there was an immense amount of hypocrisy in pious figures. The main character, Tartuffe, is portrayed as incredibly phony and hypocritical. Enlightenment thinkers took this stance on the Church because they felt the Church would say anything for people to donate and follow them. In his works, Moliere put a heavy emphasis on integrity and honesty, making him an essential Enlightenment figure. Within the works of Moliere, he symbolizes the fact on the hypocrisy of the ones who put forth an act of piety. Moliere mentions in his work, “The King soon recognizes Tartuffe as one Notorious by another name, who’d done so many vicious crimes that one could fill ten volumes with them, and be writing still” (Moliere). In Moliere’s work, the character Dorine mentions “"You see him as a saint. I'm far less awed; In fact, I see right through him. He's a fraud.” She is seeing right through Tartuffe, and realizing the hypocrisy of the whole…show more content…
He had a way of making the reader both laugh and think deeply at the same time. Voltaire’s Candide took a sarcastic look at the philosophy of the Enlightenment as well as the Christian faith. Voltaire satirized the belief of blind optimism, which was common during his time. He emphasized that a balance of optimism and pessimism, called realism, is the best way of thinking. Voltaire mentions in his work, “He proved admirably that there cannot possibly be an effect without a cause and that in this best of all possible worlds the baron’s castle was the most beautiful of all castles and his wife the best of all possible baronesses. —It is clear, said he, that things cannot be otherwise than they are, for since everything is made to serve an end, everything necessarily serves the best end” (Candide). Voltaire also believed that the Enlightenment was not a uniform movement, because he did not agree with other philosophers of the time. Without the Enlightenment, the world would not be where it is today. During that time, it was rare and almost frowned upon to question authority. But in today’s society, people develop their own philosophies and attitudes towards life. The Enlightenment period sharpened the minds of many thinkers of the time. The three Enlightenment thinkers: Swift, Voltaire, and Moliere all created three pieces of literature that both criticize and support Enlightenment ideals of their time. Jonathan
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