Voltaire 's Candide : Human Nature And The Human Condition Essay

1608 Words Nov 2nd, 2015 null Page
Under the guise of sarcasm and an erratic and fantastical plot, Voltaire’s Candide examines human nature and the human condition in the context of an 18th century France. This is done so not only through the derision of philosophical positions such as Optimism and Pessimism, but also of the religious intolerance of that day. It may seem at first that Voltaire views humanity in a dismal light and merely locates its deficiencies, but in fact he also reveals attributes of redemption in it, and thus his view of human nature is altogether much more balanced and multi-faceted.
The world in which Voltaire lived was marked by two diurnal events of significance in the backdrop: firstly that of the gradual decay of the ancien régime, the term given to the mélange of the state’s social, political and economic forms; and secondly that of the Enlightenment, an intellectual movement concerning God, reason, nature and humanity. This was a society of absolutism, where the king proclaimed himself a suzerain whilst engaging in political rhetoric. The abuse of power parallels that in Candide where positions of authority maltreat their servants and subjects, as Candide is abused in the Bulgar army and asked whether he would prefer ‘to be flogged by the entire regiment thirty-six time or receive twelve lead bullets in his skull simultaneously’. At the same time, the Catholic Church retained during this period vast doctrinal rights and social prestige by the standards prevailing in the rest of…

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