Candide Satire Essay

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Candide is the story of the character Candide and the circumstances that fell upon him after his abrupt eviction from a seemingly idyllic castle. These circumstances reveal that the metaphysical optimism that his mentor, Pangloss has taught him is incorrect, through hardship after hardship. The story successfully challenges metaphysical optimism, the belief that “we live in the best of all possible worlds” and illustrates its dangers and ridiculousness through the use of various satirical elements such as exaggeration, irony, and ridicule. Voltaire first challenges metaphysical optimism through the use of satire when Candide persists in its belief, despite being forced to run the gauntlet. Candide states that “everything is linked by necessity and arranged for the best. It was necessary for me to be expelled from the presence of Mademoiselle Cunégonde and to run the gauntlet.” (21) By having Candide run the gauntlet, and have him still believe that it was for the best, despite its seemingly senseless and cruel nature, Voltaire ridicules the idea of metaphysical …show more content…
For example, the old woman describes how “I grew in beauty, graces, and talents, in the midst of pleasures, respect, and hopes.” (36) to how “in three months’ time had undergone poverty and slavery, had been raped almost every day, had seen her mother cut into quarters, had endured hunger and war, and was dying of the plague in Algiers.” (39) With this almost over-the-top extensive list of horrors the old woman has experienced, Candide builds its case against metaphysical optimism. This is done by listing so many examples of horrible experiences that seem to challenge the idea that all in the world is for the best, such that the attempt of the optimist to explain their cause is worthy of mockery, as seen in the next

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