Royal S. Brown, Ph.D
08 June 2015
Candide, A Fictional Philosophical Tale
Candide, written by François-Marie Arouet (Voltaire), who was an 18th century philosopher during the “Age of Enlightenment.” Voltaire often used his writing to attack the Catholic Church. Voltaire and other authors displayed greater freedom in their writing during this time, Voltaire’s novel Candide, is seen as a direct assault to what the Catholic Church stood for during this era.
There are many instances where religion and the fundamental ideas of the “Enlightenment” thinkers clash in Candide. One idea that is clearly challenged is the idea of God’s existence. If God did exist there would be no evil in the world. Since there is the existence of evil, misery it is a clear sign that God is not the “all powerful” figure that the Catholic Church leads its followers to believe. One form of misery that is seen throughout Candide, is rape. All the women Candide encounters through his adventure are all raped and, or forced to have sex at some point in their lives. In fact, this was considered the norm. When Cunegonde describes her rape she states “what had happened at my father’s castle was a customary thing” (18). The idea of a virgin women is thrown out the window in this tale. Every women encountered has been either forced to have sex been raped, been sold multiple times, and even come to the point where she is a sexually transmitted disease machine. To make matters worse, in chapter 11 it is revealed that the woman that is traveling with Candide is the Pope’s daughter, which of course contradicts the rules of the Catholic faith in which the Pope cannot be married and must remain celibate. Candide sets out to prove that the religious ideas of this era were not the best and that believing in them was foolish. Therefore, Candide can be considered a philosophical tale in that it makes a case against the beliefs of the Catholic Church.
Innocence is another satire that plays throughout the book and in Candide’s mentality. Candide’s name has origins from the Latin language, candidus as defined by dictionary.com, means to be “clean and pure”. Innocence’s is often seen and viewed as someone who is unaware of someone's real intentions, and there are several instances where Candide is unable to see the truth that is in front of him. Candide has grows up