Satire Exposed In Voltaire's Candide

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Voltaire’s Candide follows the journey of a young and naïve man named Candide, who, after living in ignorance for his entire life, is thrust into the world and forced to experience its horrors and graphic violence. Voltaire structures Candide as a satire, meaning to bring attention to our world and its problems, focusing on the violence of war and the hypocrisy of society. Candide is a satire, a genre of literature that is a response to the hypocrisy of a society; therefore, reading a satirical piece through new historicism allows the reader to locate the aspects of a society that are hypocritical and determine what the author is trying to expose. New Historicism is a school of literary criticism that emphasizes the historicity of a text by …show more content…
The circumstances of society are important in reading Candide, because this story would not exist without the problems prevalent in society in the eighteenth century. In every one of the thirty chapters, Voltaire manages to send a message to readers about war, violence, social structure, and religious figures that reveal the societal norms of his time. Voltaire was an Enlightenment writer and was outspoken in his writing about equality, human rights, and freedom of religion. While advocating these ideas in Candide, he also uses Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz’s idea of optimism as a way of stating that there is not optimism. Voltaire rejected Leibniz and optimism, but nonetheless, featured it in his work, in the form of Dr. Pangloss’s blind optimistic philosophy. Dr. Pangloss repeatedly states that every situation is “the best of all possible worlds” (Voltaire, 425). By stating that everything is for the best, Dr. Pangloss rejects responsibility for humanity’s part in global problems. He claims that the world is this way because it is supposed to. His most prominent example is his explanation of syphilis. Syphilis, though killing him, is necessary because without it, the western world would not be as powerful today. Most importantly, there would be no chocolate. When he attributes the world’s problems to “fate,” he denies involvement on behalf of himself, and of the rest of society. This leads the reader to follow suit; why should one take responsibility when, according to this philosophy, everything is for the