How is Voltaire, Candide both a religious and social critique of the Old Regime?
Francois Marie Arouet, also known as Voltaire (1694-1778) wrote "Candide" as both a social and religious critique of the Old Regime. Like many of his other writing's, "Candide" was an attack on many levels of the eighteenth-century French society (Perry 434).
In "Candide", chapter I, Voltaire writes "The old family servants suspected that he was the son of the Baron's sister by a worthy gentleman of that neighbourhood, whom the young lady would never agree to marry because he could only claim seventy-one quaterings, the rest of his family tree having suffered from the ravages of time."(Voltaire 19) This is one of the many mockeries Voltaire makes at the aristocracy's natural superiority by birth. This statement shows how Voltaire thinks it's ridiculous that the nobles strictly abided by their irrational beliefs.
In chapter III, Voltaire makes an attack on religion. "While Candide is in Holland, hungry, he comes along walks up on an orator of Catholic religion. The minister asks him Do you believe that the Pope is the Antichrist, my friend?' I have never heard anyone say so' relied Candide, but whether he is or he isn't, I want some food.' You don't deserve to eat' said the other
.The minister's wife looked out of the window at that moment, and seeing a man who was not sure that the Pope was Antichrist, emptied over his head a pot full of
, which shows to what lengths ladies are driven by a religious zeal (Voltaire 27)." In this critique, Voltaire shows how clergy members are so wrapped up in their theories, that they ignore the people around them suffering from the destruction of war, starvation, and poverty. They care more about converting people to their views than helping someone out.
In chapter X, Voltaire makes another critique of religion by writing " Who could have robbed me of my moidores and the diamonds?' cried Cunegonde, bursting into tears
Bibliography: • Perry, Marvin; Myrna Chase; James R. Jacob; Margaret C. Jacob; Theodore H. Von Laue Western Civilization: Ideas, Politics & Society. Boston. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004.
• Voltaire Candide. New York: Penguin Books Ltd. 1947
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