Candide: a Candid Satire

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Candide is a humorous, far-fetched story satirizing the optimism promoted by the philosophers of the Age of Enlightenment. Voltaire uses satire as a means of pointing out injustice, cruelty and bigotry that is commonly found in the human society. Although the tale seems light and comical, Voltaire has more serious intentions behind the laughable plot line. Candide can therefore be classified as a satire because it combines humor and wit to bring about a change in society’s view on matters such as religion, war, and the level of optimism one must contain.

Throughout the book, Candide, the main character, is introduced to a number of religious characters including the Protestant minister, the Grand Inquisitor, and the Jesuit Baron. Voltaire uses these characters to relay the absurdities displayed by many religions. The Jesuit Baron, whom strikes Candide across the face with the back of a sword, exhibits the arrogant attitudes some religions contain. The violent action of the Baron is not because Candide steals the virginity on the Baron’s sister, but due to the fact that Candide belongs to a lower social class than they. This action clashes with the pious character the Baron is supposed to encompass as a priest. Another character Voltaire uses is the Protestant minister who is introduced in to the book preaching about the need to help others. However, when Candide asks for help in the form of food, the minister shows him no kindness based on their varying views on certain religious aspects. The hypocrisy in which the religious institution is presented in this example is perhaps the most blatant example in the entire book. However, yet another situation is presented after Candide plays witness to an earthquake in Lisbon. After the earthquake, the Grand Inquisitor orders for an auto-da-fe, or act of faith, to prevent any more natural disasters from happening. Voltaire uses this “act of faith”, in which innocent people are sacrificed, to show the...
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