Grotesque Imagery to Represent Themes in Candide

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Diana Alsbrook
Professor Smith
World Literature 251
March 4, 2010
Grotesque Imagery to Represent Themes in Candide
Various forms of imagery appear in Voltaire’s Candide. This includes the image of gardening and the multiple images found throughout the tour of El Dorado. None, however, compare to the blatant grotesque imagery shown in the novel, imagery that gives us a sort of comic relief in what is supposed to be violent and gory. Comedy and horror-filled instances are combined to form a satiric situation in which the reader is meant to have a reaction that is both disturbing and distraught. Voltaire presented this as an advanced form of his creative aims in Candide for the reader to be in a state of confusion, much like he portrayed the society of his time, between fear or disgust, and laughter or security. This novel, published in the year 1759, was written at the peak of the Enlightenment and was pronounced as a text that clearly promotes the thoughts and ideas of that time. However, Voltaire uses this novel for two main reasons: to disvalue the church and to disvalue the state. He did this by forming an extremely horrific novel, and joining with it stories that represented these two entities, in order to form within his audience a sort of “grotesque” image of the church at the time. The ending represents for the readers the entire purpose of the novel. When the bodies are returned to Candide, this portrays a theme that, during the time, was thought of to be nonexistent: living without a purpose, without a reason. This attacked both the church and the Enlightenment period alike because of the concentration on reason in the Enlightenment, and the thought of the church that your life is to be lived for God and that is your only purpose in life. The ending, though it can be viewed in many ways, can be seen as a satire of the afterlife thought up by the church. The people that were dead, looked as if they had died a traumatic death, giving the...
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