Candide Satire

2005 Words9 Pages
The 18th Century saw the application of ideas from the Scientific Revolution being applied to social and political science in what came to be known as the Enlightenment. It was during this time that thinkers began to earnestly question the social structures that had been in place for centuries. One of the first Enlightenment thinkers was François-Marie Arouet, now known as Voltaire. Perhaps his harshest look at contemporary society was his satirical novel Candide, a love story set in 18th century Europe. Voltaire presents this vicious criticism of the social system in the form of a very superficial romance. When one looks beyond that, however, the real story begins to reveal itself. Candide is a story of growth from an immature, coddled youth, to an independent thinker. It is within this story that Voltaire uses singular characters to criticize different social groups, the most prominent example being the character of Pangloss, which will be explored later in the essay. Voltaire's Candide is a harsh, satirical criticism of contemporary society, particularly Leibnizian optimism, religious institutions,…show more content…
This idea of the "best of all possible worlds" is rejected, and in its place Candide asserts, "we must cultivate our garden." (144) The juxtaposition between a purely philosophical outlook on life versus one that calls for active participation in the world is striking. Outside of the garden, the laws that dictate nature are indiscernible and people are victimized at random. The garden provides a sanctuary where simple cause and effect lead to fruition: if one tends the garden, one is rewarded with fruits and vegetables. In the garden, each person is a member of a larger unit with a role to fulfill in order for the group to be successful. To accomplish his or her role, each person has to work. Voltaire creates a microcosm of what a fruitful society should be, according to his own
Open Document