Representations Of Women In Voltaire's Candide

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Representations of women in Candide Women have always played an influential role in society. In fact, they are the ones that keep it going which is why some argue that women should be greatly respected. This idea has been around since the beginning of time, but unfortunately women have been treated the exact opposite and it was not until the 1850’s that women got their rights. Before this time they were used as tools and had no say in anything important. It did not matter whether they were smart or not, nor did it matter if they were beautiful or ugly; they were always lower than men. Voltaire uses the oppression of Cunegonde, the old woman, and Paquette to display different forms of abuse to the reader. These women were raped and abused regularly…show more content…
You were raped by the Bulgars... I confess that were I in your position, I would not harbor the least scruple at marrying the governor and thereby securing Captain Candide’s fortune.” (41). Out of her love for Candide and wish to live the life she was used to, Cunegonde became the mistress of the Grand Bulgar Inquisitor. Another example of Cunegonde living by the stereotype is when Candide sees her in El-dorado with two men. When Candide talks to Cunegonde she tells him that the two men are her owner’s. She tells Candide the story of how she ended up with the men and how they arranged their agreements “…He made a bargain by which this house and I should belong to both of them in common, to the Jew in Monday, Wednesday, and Sabbath day, and to the inquisitor the other days of the week.”…show more content…
Most of the female characters have been raped or sexually abused. However it is normal for this kind of action to take place at this time. For example, when Cunegonde family’s castle was attacked and destroyed she was raped. She describes it as “the customary way of doing things” (5). It was not only normal for the women, but encouraged among the men. In fact, men would compete on owning the best women. The more women a man had or raped the higher he was viewed and the more powerful he became throughout society. This perspective of life shows how women had such little power and say in society. However this story would not be interesting if someone tried to change the norm, and interesting enough it is not Cunegonde. It is actually Paquette since she sees her situation as unfair and cruel and has the idea to fight against this custom. After being kicked out of the Baron’s castle she became a prostitute in order to make a living. She was “forced to continue this terrible profession that [the men] find so pleasant, while to women it is but an abyss of misery” (92). This quotation proves that Paquette is trying to stand up against society for herself and all the women that are in her place. Subsequently, all the female characters say that their situations are worse than those around them, and yet only Paquette truly stands up for her position and feels that she is being wronged. She has no power, especially as a prostitute

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