How Does Voltaire Use Satire

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Humor and satire have been around for many years, and is still a common tool for political and philosophical conversations in society. For one to learn this valuable tool, one must learn from the master: Voltaire. Though he was far from the first person to utilize it in writing, the blending of these ideas and those of the philosophes of the Enlightenment brought both of them to a new level, one that was not afraid of subtlety or what or whom it was directed at. Voltaire uses humor and satire in order to be able to push controversial opinions such as his views on religion, optimism, and woman’s equality. Voltaire often criticized organized religion, leading him to use humor to mask some of his opinions, most notably in L’Ingénu, a book about…show more content…
It was the topic of much philosophical debate, and had a different definition than its modern usage. It was coined in 1737 by Journal de Trevoux to describe Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz’s theory of an optimum world (Gourevitch). Voltaire often critiqued optimism, and in response to another set of correspondences with Rousseau on it, he wrote “Poem on the Lisbon Disaster”, about the contemporary earthquake on Portugal’s capital. However, his opinions on optimism can most clearly be seen in Candide, about a naïve man of the same name who takes the reader through a journey throughout the world in search of his love, Cunegonde. His teacher, Pangloss, is a dedicated optimist who finds the positives of any situation, even if it is made up or not actually positive (Gourevitch). At the end of the book, he remarks that “All events are linked in the best of all worlds. Had you not lost all of your sheep in the good land of El Dorado, you would not be eating pistachios and lemons”, to which Candide quips back, “…mais il faut cultiver notre jardin”; in English: “… but we must cultivate our garden” (Manguel). The significance of this statement to non-Francophones is greatly lost due to a pun lost in the translation: cultiver in French can either mean to grow a garden or to cultivate one’s mind, implying that Candide is sick of listening to Pangloss, and is set on

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