Advanced World Literature and Composition
February 6, 2013
Voltaire Use of Satire In Candide
Voltaire portrays an image of human suffering and cruelty in our world. He criticizes the philosopher Gottfried Leibniz’s optimism theory in the novel Candide. Candide was written by Voltaire and translated by John Butt in 1950. “Each particular contingent fact in the world has an explanation” (“God in Leibniz’s Theory” 1). In the novel, Candide’s teacher Pangloss believes that we live in “the best of all possible worlds.” This novel was written during the period of the Enlightenment. This era was a time of ideas about science and philosophy. The doctrine, “The Divine Right of Kings” and “The Social Contract” were written during this time. A major catastrophe occurred during the Enlightenment that shaped Voltaire’s attitude towards optimism. The Lisbon earthquake occurred on November 1, 1755. Fires from cooking and candles broke out after the quake as well as a Tsunami. Voltaire uses this earthquake as an event in the novel. Voltaire also uses his own experiences to relate himself to the character of Candide, as he was also exiled for his own ideas. Candide is a criticism of philosophy, religion, and politics. Throughout the novel, it’s evident that Voltaire took aim to target the flaws in Leibniz’s theory by criticizing optimism, organized religion, violence and war through the use of satire.
As Candide travels on his journeys across South America, Voltaire uses specific events occur that make Candide criticize and question Pangloss’s theory about optimism. Leibniz’s principle of the best, explains that there is an explanation for every fact and an answer to every question. () Voltaire created Dr. Pangloss, Candide’s teacher who believes we live in the “best of all possible worlds.” Even when the horrendous earthquake occurs and kills 30,000 people, or when he gets the disease syphilis; it is all for the best. He says, "the disease...
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