Voltaire's Use Of Distortion

1620 WordsSep 26, 20177 Pages
Simi Singh Ms. Russell Humor and Satire (H) Sept. 20, 2017 Candide Essay Prompt: In questioning the value of literary realism, Flannery O 'Connor writes: "I am interested in making a good case for distortion because I am coming to believe that it is the only way to make people see." Following your study of Candide, write an essay in which you examine Voltaire’s use of distortion; how is he using it and to what extent does he succeed in “mak[ing] people see”? In other words, how did Voltaire incorporate distortion in order to make his readers see or think about the world differently? Provide a focused claim with well-chosen textual evidence in support of your analysis. Voltaire uses the literary device of distortion throughout his…show more content…
Candide 's hyperbolic optimism is Voltaire’s way of jeering at the German philosopher and mathematician Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz. In the Leibniz’s theodicy (1710) he wrote that the world must be “the best of all possible Worlds” which is clearly where Pangloss’ statement comes from. Another dig is at John Locke who believed that the human brain is like a blank tablet, or tabularasa, on which the natural world produces the individual 's understanding and beliefs. By having Candide be an example of a student who has no ideas of his own and acts like a tabularasa, Voltaire mocks the famous physician and member of the Royal Society. Another main character whose name conveys a multi-faceted is Cunegonde. Cunegonde’s name is from a German derivation of the word kuni which means family and Gund which means war. There were many famous German women with her name, but due to the interesting history of the German empress also known as Cunegunda, it is probable that the character’s name is an allusion to her. She married Duke Henry IV of Bavaria, who was the future Emperor Henry II. There are many interesting facts about her which include the fact that since their marriage was childless, a legend arose that she and the emperor had vowed perpetual virginity. Furthermore, combined with the fact that her name is a combination of two french words with Latin roots that have to do with genitalia the name becomes a type of pun, which is a

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