Gender Roles In Candide

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Voltaire’s Candide: Women’s Role in Society
Women during the 1700s, the time period during which the novel is set, understood they had very little power; and it was only through men that they could exert any influence. Women at this time were seen as mere objects that acted as conciliation prizes for the gain of power and their sole use was for reproduction. Maintaining the duty of tiding the home and looking after the children, no outlet for an education or a chance to make a voice for themselves. Men acted as the leading voice in society, making all substantial decisions for women. The hierarchy of genders was ever so present and was based on the physical differences between men and women. Due in part by the women’s slighter body and meeker
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However, through the exaggerated delivery of the typical role women played in society during the 1700s in the novel Candide, Voltaire explores the topic of women as mentors and suggests that women …show more content…
Cunegonde is the daughter of a wealthy German lord who is depicted as an “extremely beautiful” young girl and is repeatedly referred to as “the fair Cunegonde” (5). In particular, she is treated with little regard and repeatedly abused. Yet, the story seems to be centered on Candide retrieving Cunegonde as a reward for his journey. In addition, Paquette who at the beginning of the novel, is the chambermaid of Cunegonde’s mother and later has an affair with Pangloss; she eventually turns to prostitution to support herself. The final female character in the novel is referred to as The Old Women. She was the daughter of Pope Urban X and the princess of Palestrina, cast aside due to her forbidden conception. Later in the novel she describes her troubling past and her extreme adversity fueled by constant mistreatment by men. These three characters exude very little complexity or importance at first glance by Candide. This little characterization focusing only on the physical and emotional appearances demonstrates a contrast to the limited perspective of how useful women were seen, by pointing this out Voltaire helps to decentralize the women body and bring attention to the fact that women are not all “rosy-cheeked, fresh, plump and appetizing” creatures there to please others. Women are to cornerstone of society, without them there would be no future generation. With his characterization

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