Satire in Voltaire's "Candide"

Essay by Sasha813University, Bachelor'sA+, March 2006

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Satire is defined as a literary work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit. Candide is a successful satire because it includes the main components of satire, and in writing it Voltaire intended to point out the folly in philosophical optimism and religion.

Satire is designed to ridicule a usually serious idea. Because Voltaire was a deist he was more than comfortable deriding religion and philosophical optimism in his novella Candide. In contrast to the standard European of his day, Voltaire openly rejected the idea that a god, a creator of the universe, must exist. When he wrote Candide in the late 18th Century, Voltaire took aim at Leibniz and other Enlightenment thinkers of that time in opposing that the universe was constructed by an infallible creator thus making this world equally sublime.

Candide is the story of a young man, Candide, who is taught by Pangloss, his professor of "metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology," that there is no effect without a cause and that everything is for the best.

Candide, who believes these teachings as he starts out in his life, comes into contact with many horrors and hardships because he never does anything to help himself for he believes that everything that happens is for the best and that everything will work out. It is only at the end of his journeys that he finally turns to Pangloss and says, "That is well said, but we must cultivate our garden." The characters of the story are all representative of the folly in optimism and religion. Candide and Pangloss are the optimists who maintain that "everything is for the best" despite witnessing horrible events, seemingly one after another. Robbed, beaten, cheated, and even executed the enthusiastic optimists patiently endure and carry on assuming that it all serves...