The Lisbon Earthquake Analysis

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In 1755, Portugal was hit with a devastating natural disaster known as the Lisbon earthquake, killing an estimated 70,000 people and destroying almost 20,000 homes. As this was considered the first modern natural disaster of its time, and because the earthquake took place in a major capital city, the event sparked much discussion on the understanding of why it happened. In traditional view, the world was considered to be the best of all possible worlds and natural disasters "were often used as illustrations to indicate how "bad things" could happen" (Dynes 98). The Lisbon earthquake proved that, indeed, bad things can happen. The earthquake occurred almost at the center of the Enlightenment, a time when people began to use reason rather than…show more content…
He directly contradicts this position in the first line by writing, "Oh wretched man, earth-fated to be cursed… Horrors on horrors, griefs on griefs must show that man 's the victim of unceasing woe" (205). Voltaire blatantly addresses the curses, plagues, miseries, horrors and griefs of the world, and he calls humans victims of these evils. He also says, "unceasing woe", which signifies that he believes these sorrows will never come to an end. He starts off right to the point, but as the poem continues, he uses more sarcasm to disprove the optimistic position of the…show more content…
Voltaire contradicts this by asking them, "Are you then sure, the power which could create the universe and fix the laws of fate could not have found for man a proper place, but earthquakes must destroy the human race… Cannot then G-d direct all nature 's course" (206)? This is sarcastic because if this world was the best of all possible worlds, and the Creator of this world is all-good and has infinite power, then how could such a detrimental event take place? G-d should be able to use the resources that G-d created to steer the world to good, but this is not the
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