Voltaire And Enlightenment Essay

Voltaire And Enlightenment Essay-86
In the end, the group manages to alleviate their troubles by numbing their minds with hard labor, thus proving that perhaps Voltaire truly believes there is a way to work through the problems posed by society versus philosophy.Although the ending of surely illustrates this idea, the novel has several interesting characters that demonstrate the uselessness of idle philosophy and in fact, may even suggest that there is some inherent damage done by his contemporary philosophy.For example, Pangloss, an adherent to his own brand of philosophy called “metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology" which advocates the belief that, as expressed in one of the important quotes from “Candide” by Voltaire, “This world is the best of all possible worlds" actually causes damage to others.

In the end, the group manages to alleviate their troubles by numbing their minds with hard labor, thus proving that perhaps Voltaire truly believes there is a way to work through the problems posed by society versus philosophy.Although the ending of surely illustrates this idea, the novel has several interesting characters that demonstrate the uselessness of idle philosophy and in fact, may even suggest that there is some inherent damage done by his contemporary philosophy.For example, Pangloss, an adherent to his own brand of philosophy called “metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology" which advocates the belief that, as expressed in one of the important quotes from “Candide” by Voltaire, “This world is the best of all possible worlds" actually causes damage to others.

While there were many views espoused during the period of the French Revolution about the rights of women, it must be observed that even a progressive thinker like Voltaire did not always hold views aligned with such ideas.

In fact, as Stromberg points out (see f.1) many of the philosophes were against the idea of revolution—they were so far set in the aristocratic cultural norms of the society to think outside of it—even if they were wont to criticize it.

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.

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.

In thinking of Voltaire and many of those philosophes similar to him in thought, women were not always considered equals (aside from a few exceptions).

It was suggested, “The state of their [women’s] natural weakness does not permit them to preeminence…"their very weakness generally gives them more lenity and moderation, qualifications fitter for good administration." Such sentiments in essays such as this one seem to mask a deeper underside of the patriarchal attitudes of the day more than their polished way of setting apart a few exceptions of women leaders would readily demonstrate.

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.

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