Candide, written by Voltaire, was published in 1759 during the enlightenment era. During this time, the religious and philosophical institutions, especially the catholic church, were being attacked by enlightenment writers. Through their writing, these philosophical writers contradicted and questioned the ideas of the church. This moved many people’s opinions away from this thinking and believing in the ideas of these enlightenment writers. This included Voltaire. He believed in and supported many of the enlightenment era writers with their ideas. Through his writing, he attacked the religious and philosophical institutions with the use of satire. His satirical approach allowed him to mock and poke fun at many of the philosophical and religious institutions. He does this through Candide by using satire to create funny scenarios and situations in order to mock and expose the ridiculous ideas and beliefs of the different institutions which is seen many times throughout the book.The philosophical and religious institutions in the enlightenment era were mocked and ridiculed through Voltaire’s use of satire in Candide.
Voltaire uses satire to ridicule and mock both the religious, primarily the Christian Catholic church, and philosophical institutions and ideas that were present in the enlightenment era. The Catholic church was a very big target for ridicule by any enlightenment era writer of the time. This is because people were moving away from the ideas of the Catholic church and the idea of God and moving to a more philosophical and idealistic way of thinking. Voltaire used satire in his writing to also mock and ridicule the Catholic Church and it’s strict rules. One example used in Candide is when Candide is talking to the Orator about the Church. Candide is asked, My friend said the orator to him, do you believe the pope to be antichrist? I have not heard it, answered Candide; but whether he be, or whether he be not, I want bread(13). After this the orator’s wife poured a bucket of waste onto Candide’s head. This is an example of Candide using satire to create a funny situation surrounding the mocking of the church. This use of satire is used to mock and ridicule how strict and intense that the church can be towards the people. Candide gets a punishment from the orator’s wife for simply not caring much about the state of the Pope. Not only does this present satire, but tone as well. The humourous and comedic tone of the Orator’s wife pouring her waste on him helps add to the mocking. The reader becomes amused from the humorous tone in which they realize how overly strict and intense that the Catholic Church can be. The use of satire is present here as it is a humorous scene that shows the flaws of the Catholic Church. Making the novel comedic makes the ready laugh at the institutions in the enlightenment era. This connects to the bigger idea that Voltaire’s use of Satire is used to mock the institutions of the enlightenment era.
Voltaire’s mocking of the Catholic Church was very prevalent in the time period of the enlightenment era. However, the philosophical institutions and ideas of philosophical writers were also fair game for Voltaire to Mock and ridicule. During the time of the enlightenment era, the ideas and writings of many different philosophers were being spread around. Voltaire was one of the many to read and listen to these ideas and writings. In Candide, he mocked and poked fun at these writings and ideas. He did this again through the use of satire. He mocks the philosophical ideology at the beginning of the book when candide is captured and is too severe a punishment. The quote says,He was asked which he would like the best, to be whipped six-and-thirty times through all the regiment or to receive at once 12 balls of lead in his brain. He vainly said that human will is free, and that he chose neither the one nor the other(12). By saying human will is free, Candide is expressing a philosophical idea that the will of man is free and that he should not have to be whipped. The satirical factor in the quote is that despite trying to reason with people, Candide gets whipped anyway. This also shows a bit of irony in that even though Candide is being reasonable in his request to not be whipped, he gets whipped anyway. Presenting how Voltaire uses this satirical scene in order to prove how sometimes the philosophical writings and ideas are useless and exaggerated. Which shows how the bigger idea in Candide is that Voltaire’s use of satire is to mock and poke fun of the religious and philosophical institutions present in the enlightenment era.
Both the religious and philosophical institutions of the enlightenment era were very influential. They explained, reasoned and helped people understand why certain things were happening or that had happened. People had followed under the rules and beliefs of the catholic church for so long that the philosophical writers were able to contradict and offer new ideas that pushed people away from the religious and Catholic way of thinking. These ideas also explained how certain events occur. This is seen in Candide when Pangloss is explaining to the people of Lisbon about why the earthquake happened. For said he, all that is is for the best. If there is a volcano at Lisbon it cannot be elsewhere. It is impossible that things should be other than they are; for everything is right.(18). After this Pangloss is hung as a punishment for his ridiculous beliefs. By saying this, he is sharing his philosophical beliefs in that the earthquake occured because that’s how nature set it up to be. The quote also shows us the importance of setting in Candide. This is due to the fact that Pangloss wouldn’t have been punished if he was not in a heavily Catholic environment were a contradicting idea would cause you to be hung. This idea would often contradict the normal beliefs of the Catholic Church. That belief would say that the earthquake is part of a punishment from god that they must endure. This is a clear example of how Voltaire mocks the philosophical ideas from the enlightenment era. This presents the satire in that in the novel, that when Pangloss speaks his mind on the philosophical ideas, he is punished in an extreme way bringing humour to the reader. This presents the bigger idea presented in Candide that Voltaire’s use of Satire mocks the religious and philosophical institutions of the enlightenment era.
Voltaire’s satire novel called Candide isn’t simply just a book to read just to have a laugh. The meaning behind the satirical tone and comedy is much deeper than just that. Voltaire’s intent was to make more of a statement. Particularly about the Religious and Philosophical institutions. These institutions were very prevalent in the time when people had very strong faith and beliefs systems. By mocking these institutions, he tries to expose the flaws and wrong doings of these institutions to inform and let the people of his time know about this.This is done through the use of Satire in the novel. The philosophical and religious institutions in the enlightenment era were mocked and ridiculed through Voltaire’s use of satire in Candide.
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