What was the historical significance of Voltaire's 'Candide' and it's relevance during the Enlightenment?

1445 Words Apr 23rd, 2005 6 Pages
What was the historical significance of Voltaire's 'Candide'

and it's relevance during the Enlightenment?

In his work, Candide, Voltaire uses satire as a means of conveying his opinions about many aspects of European society in the eighteenth century, a period known as the Enlightenment. This Age of Reason swept through Europe, offering differing views on science, religion, and politics. The following essay will outline the philosophical theory of Pangloss, a character of the novel and suggest how his optimistic worldview is challenged by numerous disasters. I will also justify the reasons Voltaire attacks hypocrisy, most prevalent in religion, and displays the cruel actions of the priests, monks, and other religious leaders. In the
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He disagrees with how the government works, how the nobility acts, and especially the religious leaders who do not practice what they preach. Although Voltaire shows how impossible it is to reach an ideal society, he suggests that people should work hard and be honest to live life as happily and practically as possible. Voltaire includes many duplicitously holy Characters and blasphemous events done in the name of religion. The most comical example of this is when Cunegonde casually maintains, 'I had an excellent seat, and delicious refreshments were served to the ladies between Mass and the execution' when asked about her experience at the auto-da-fe.' The auto-da-fe, or act of faith, was the Inquisition's practice of burning heretics alive. Pangloss had been unjustly hanged, dissected, beaten to a pulp, and -sentenced to the galleys. The officials of the Inquisition systematically tortured and murdered tens of thousands of people on the slightest suspicion of heresy against orthodox Christian doctrine. Jews, Protestants, Muslims, and accused witches were victims of this organized campaign of violence. Like many Enlightenment intellectuals, Voltaire was appalled by the barbarism and superstition of the Inquisition, and by the religious fervour that inspired it.

Within Candide are many examples of the evils that accompany materialism. When he and his friends have money, peace, and security, and he finally marries Cunegonde, he is far
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