Candide: A Satire on European Hindering Development
The Age of Enlightenment is a pivotal part of human history, it helped reshape Europe with its many ideas and those also shaped the United States of America. During this Age of Enlightenment member of society used reasoning to achieve a higher level of understanding of the world, how government should be controlled, and human nature. Voltaire was a French writer (as well as philosopher) who dealt first hand with Enlightenment thinking. He not only wrote his ideas down in the novel Candide, but was also exiled from his own country because of his ideas. Voltaire uses Candide as a satire against the prominent things that hold Europe back from growing like the corruption of Christianity, the excessively harsh punishments inflicted upon members of society and the lack of freedom of expression by the government. It is safe to say that Voltaire is critical of organized religion as corrupt and that European countries use religion as a power tool against its people. While in Eldorado Candide makes a remark, “What! You have no monks instructing and disputing, and governing and intriguing, and having everyone burned alive who is not of their opinion?” (Candide, p.47), which clearly states how Voltaire feels about organized religion. He feels that religion is put in place and those who do not accept the “right” way of believe are to be put to death. A key theme of Enlightenment thinking is the belief in the essential goodness of human nature and Voltaire is critical of the fact that while Christianity preaches kindness and love they seem to be hypocritical of themselves because all they do is treat other human beings terribly like when the Grand Inquisitor was buried beautifully in a church but the Jewish man “was thrown on to the town refuse heap” (Candide, p. 23) because he didn’t have the same beliefs as the Church. He is continuously making remarks about how corrupt the idea of organized religion is but also...
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