Voltaire And Enlightenment Essay

Voltaire And Enlightenment Essay-73
While it is apparent that Voltaire is not visibly working toward any revolutionary sentiments in Candide and is merely pointing out flaws in society, it is interesting to note how ingrained the popular cultural notions of the Enlightenment are not even expressed in the text.The most noticeable case concerns his treatment of women in Candide.Moreover, he orders the flogging of Candide for merely, “listening with an air of approval" thus proving himself somehow implicit in blasphemy.

While it is apparent that Voltaire is not visibly working toward any revolutionary sentiments in Candide and is merely pointing out flaws in society, it is interesting to note how ingrained the popular cultural notions of the Enlightenment are not even expressed in the text.The most noticeable case concerns his treatment of women in Candide.Moreover, he orders the flogging of Candide for merely, “listening with an air of approval" thus proving himself somehow implicit in blasphemy.

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there are several scathing attacks, mostly through satire, irony and absurd characters, on the Church and his contemporary philosophy, there is nothing inherently revolutionary about it.

It certainly makes for a provoking type of comedy, but there are few solutions offered other than living an austere life on a farm.

Women are strangely represented in the novel since at once they seem like helpless victims yet also show remarkable strength.

It seems however, that the “strength" that these women show might not be a statement on the internal powers of women, but rather that they have no choice than to adapt to a gruesome and misogynistic situation.

If Voltaire also held such views, why then do all the women in Candide show such weak and defenseless character traits?

While on the one hand it seems as though it many be a progressive move to point out how women constantly run the risk of being subject to often violent male desire (as we see in the stories of rape, enslavement, and general submission on the part of women) it seems more the case that Voltaire considers them to be weak and ineffectual creatures—using sex to obtain their desires and serving as vessels of disease.explores the hypocrisy that was rampant in the Church.Consider for example, the inhumanity of the clergy, most notably the Inquisitor, in hanging and executing his fellow citizens over philosophical differences.Again, it would seem that most of Voltaire’s uses of philosophy are not aimed at gearing up the masses for a revolution, rather, they are just ironic statements on a society that is recognizable for those contemporary readers.It is also apparent in his discussion on philosophy that he is not creating something new or revolutionary, but is rather working on an old base—the same institutions of philosophy and religion that already exist.Even though Voltaire was known have verbally advocated the equal rights of women, this sentiment is not apparent in his fiction, especially considering the fact that the main female characters are prostitutes, women that marry for money, disease-spreaders, and most importantly victims.Overall, while Voltaire’s work was certainly inflammatory and critical of society, any potential revolutionary “value" lies only within the sense that it exposed weaknesses in the dominant societal structure.Martin’s extreme cynicism is not the way, Pangloss’ blinding optimism isn’t either, therefore it seems that the only way for a true revolution to come about is if one turns off from philosophy completely.This seems like a strange message coming from an author who was one of the most recognized philosophes of his time, and thus it seems rather ironic that the ultimate message about philosophy and its use is so grim.In many respects, as far as feminism goes, this is a rather bleak novel especially because although it is heralded as a precursor to the revolutions, it lacks the true ideals of the Enlightenment’s assertions of equal rights for all.While this essay has attempted to point out that perhaps Candide is not free from the biases inherent to those classes and groups Voltaire so harshly criticizes, this is not to say that there are not plenty of cases in which it would be possible to draw revolutionary ideas from.

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