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Theme Of Humanitarianism In Voltaire's Candide

Decent Essays
In the 1700’s, it was thought that science and reason would lead people forward ultimately, making it the time of enlightenment. Humanitarianism is believed to be important in the easing of human suffering and also is a key theme of enlightenment. Philosophers believed that the humanitarian impulse was developed by the thoughts that irrational actions caused cruelty and oppression. In Voltaire’s book Candide, the enlightenment theme of humanitarianism wasn’t supported. It wasn’t supported in the way that women were treated, and the constant theme of violence.
In Candide the mistreatment of women is a clear representation of inhumane behavior. When the Bulgars came to the castle, one of them saw that Cunegonde had fainted and started to rape her. Then, the Bulgar proceeded to stab her because she fought back. “The brute stabbed me in the left side; I still have the scar.” (31). Cunegonde was severely mistreated when the Bulgars invaded the castle. The Bulgars were an inhumane group, however, they did not perform these horrors to the other members of her family. Miraculously surviving the previous atrocities, Cunegonde worked for a man who soon became tired of her and sold her. She was then under the care of another man named Don Issachar until he made an agreement to share her with the Grand Inquisitor. “Don Issachar, intimidated, made a bargain whereby the house and I belong to both of them in common,” (32). Cunegonde being shared and sold between different men is a
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