Satire in Candide Essay

Satire in Candide Essay
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Voltaire was a striking representative of Enlightenment which features were implemented in his life and his brilliant works. His “Candide” is a masterpiece of satiric negation and derogation of values of feudal-catholic society, mockery of the foundations on which this society had been resting for centuries. The principal motif of Voltaire’s satire was a struggle against the lawlessness of the absolute monarchy, moreover, it was the highest expression of crushing exposure of church.

The Author’s Views and Their Benefits

Voltaire was a master of a spoken word, and being awarded a prominent gift by nature – the ability of analysis, synthesis and critical thinking, he developed his capacity to perfection due to his diligence. He defined his practical aims: to influence the minds of people by means of art, to make a new social opinion and, consequently, to promote a social revolution. He denied the theory of the classicists about the eternity of the ideal of beauty. He was fond of Shakespeare’s dramaturgy because it was a reflection of life as is with its severe conditions and intense conflicts. Actually, he was like a keen observer, and a lot of influential people were afraid of him, even some of his friends were not an exception of victims expressed in his famous pamphlets.

Religion takes a great place in Voltaire’s world outlook. “Anti-religious, Voltaire denounces by virulent way clericalism and the dogmas of religions. However, he believes in a Creator, but not a revealed God. Therefore, his positions are close to those of the English deists. For him, the smallness of man, lost in the vastness of the Universe, makes vain and ridiculous his search after absolute or the understanding of God’s purposes. Voltaire may be considered as one of the greatest defenders of freethinking as well as secularity being a condition for the happiness of man.” (

Voltaire as a Philosopher. The Voltaire’s views evolved in a number of philosophic issues. He shared Leibniz’s optimistic world perception characteristic for the early stage of European Enlightenment, as well as related to it determinism – recognition of cause-effect relation dominating in the world and creating a relative balance of good and evil. These views were reflected in his early works (“Zadig”, “Speculations about the Human”). In the mid-1750s, however, he shifts from this concept because of, on one hand, his Prussian experience, on the other hand, because of the Lisbon earthquake of 1755 which destroyed not only a big city but also belief of the society in the wisdom of the all-good highest Mind. Then Voltaire begins criticizing the optimistic philosophy of Leibniz. This polemics is developed in a philosophic story “Candide, or Optimism” on a wider material.

Voltaire’s Satire on Examples of the Characters. The name of the main character, Candide, means “frank”, he believes his master, Pangloss. “The most pessimistic verdict to the world – since the world is the worst of all possible worlds – is derived from the following argumentation: where the first prerequisite is the fact that world is arranged in such a way to be capable to last, any changes in form of worsening it would make its existence impossible. By the fact of existence, the world proves that it is the worst of all possible worlds.” (Lebedeva). During the entire story, he experiences unbelievable disasters, but notwithstanding this, he tries to believe in better and the world is not that bad as it seems to be.

Pangloss, the main optimist of the story, opposites to Marten – the pessimistic philosopher who does not believe in good, but is as strong in his convictions as Pangloss is; both of them, though being experienced scientists, are not able to learn their lessons from life, the only character capable of this is Candide, a young unsophisticated man – a satiric characteristic of a society of that time.

The satire is also expressed in the story on the example of Kunigunda: although she was a daughter of a baron, she experienced almost as many disasters as Candid. Except for Pangloss (having no nose and disfigured outwardly, but the most optimistic philosopher), there is no happy character in the story: everyone’s life is a heart-rending story of sufferings, this abundance of unhappiness makes the reader perceive violence, brutality as a usual condition of the world. Any society, consequently, is not fair, and the only happy country is the non-existing Eldorado. Candide was disappointed even after visiting this best country, “the best of the best worlds”, as it had only material benefits, and there was nothing else to strive for in that ideal place.


In “Candide” Voltaire managed to refute the optimistic world perception of Leibniz. It was proven that the future cannot be predicted, that it has evil in-store rather than good, the author proved through his main character that while searching for the ideal place, trying to make optimistic dreams come true, visiting and disappointing in the best state – Eldorado which seemed to be more than anyone could ever hope for, Candide realized that the simple truth is to be happy is to cultivate one’s own garden.

Works Cited. Biography of Voltaire. 2009. Web. 5 March 2015.

Lebedeva, D. Pessimism and optimism in metaphysics: Schopenhauer versus Leibniz. 2011. Web. 5 March 2015.