Successful Satire within Volatire's "Candide"

Essay by glamarrieHigh School, 10th gradeA, April 2004

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The Enlightenment was a period of time in European history when English and French philosophers created new outlooks on life. Leibniz was one of these philosophers and he introduced the idea of optimism. Optimism was described as believing that "all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds" . In Candide, Voltaire writes a successful satire of optimism because Candide includes the two main components of satire; parody and irony. Parody is "[a] composition imitating another, usually serious, piece. It is designed to ridicule a work or its style or author" . Additionally, irony is "[a] broad term referring to the recognition of a reality different from appearance. Verbal irony is a figure of speech in which the actual intent is expressed in words that carry the opposite meaning."

A satire is an artistic work in which human vice or folly is attacked through irony, derision, or wit.

A successful satire would present an idea in a way that would make it seem ridiculous using parody and/or irony. An example of a satiric passage from Candide reads:

'It is proved,' [Dr. Pangloss] used to say, 'that things cannot be other than they are, for since everything was made for a purpose, it follows that everything was made for the best purpose. Observe:...stones were meant for carving and for building houses, and that is why my lord has the most beautiful house; for the greatest baron in Westphalia ought to have the noblest residence."

-Candide, page 20

This is a successfully satiric passage because Voltaire uses such an extreme form of optimism, that the conclusions his character, Dr. Pangloss, is arriving at seem completely ludicrous which is the point of parody. This passage also uses irony when related to the outcome of the Baron's estate,