Materialism in Gulliver's Travels and Candide

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Writers can make suggestions or to try to change something about a society or simply to poke fun or satirize a part of a culture. Often these writings are aimed at a specific group of people. In the case of Jonathan Swift in Gulliver’s Travels and Voltaire in Candide, their writing is aimed at European society and its preoccupation with materialism. Swift and Voltaire satirize the behaviors of the wealthy upper class by citing two different extremes. In Gulliver’s Travels the yahoos are not even human but they behave the same way towards colored stones that the Europeans do. In contrast, the people of El Dorado do not care at all about the gold and jewels that align their streets. The writers are hoping that perhaps the reader will…show more content…
When Candide and his companion Cacambo arrive in El Dorado they see the streets covered in gold and other expensive jewels. Seeing a child playing with these jewels Candide assumes that the child is royalty. Candide and Cacambo come to know and are surprised that the people of El Dorado throw such “important” items down on the street as common pebbles. When they are ready to leave the city, they ask to take some of the gold and jewels off the road and imagine “more treasure than every the King of Spain will be possessed of” (346). The King is very surprised but obliges their request: “I cannot imagine what pleasure you Europeans find in our yellow clay; but take away as much of it as you will, and much good may it do you” (345). In El Dorado all people have their needs met, whereas the Europeans believe they need gold to define many aspects of their lives. In Europe, money determines one’s place in society and gives people worth and rights; without money it is difficult to get a meal and a place to sleep, let alone to fulfill one’s goals in life. In Gulliver’s Travels the yahoos hoarded food and fought to possess it all. In El Dorado the people give food freely without any expectations of payment. Candide and Cacambo are strangers; yet they are welcomed into an inn and immediately given a hearty meal without any hesitation (341). The two eat until they can eat no more, without being questioned by any of the people in the inn.

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