Candide: The Hypocrisy Of Religion

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Oftentimes, humans place religion on a pedestal and view religious beings in a positive light. However, the Age of Enlightenment challenged these customs instead of blindly following them. Similarly, in his satirical novella Candide, Voltaire imbeds his belief that religion is superstitious as he constructs specific characters who mock the superficiality and hypocrisy of it. As he highlights the varying philosophies and beliefs of these characters, he advances the plot and shames the world’s shortcomings.
Voltaire introduces the Christian orator and James the Anabaptist as character foils. Despite preaching about charity, the orator rudely turns Candide away, telling him that he “[does not] deserve to eat” and that he should “never come near [him] again” (Voltaire 21). During the encounter, the stereotype that Christians treat others well is proved false; this ironic situation candidly portrays the reality of how little good is within even the most religious of people. Through the purposeful crafting of this character, Voltaire frames the idea that religious conviction does not guarantee human compassion; instead, this character paints the hypocrisy of religion. In contrast, Anabaptists have a bad reputation, but James “takes [Candide] to his home, washed him, served him bread and beer, made him a gift[,] and even offered to teach him to work”
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The broken stereotypes of the orator and the Anabaptist illuminate how little religion contributes to moral behavior; the conflicting viewpoints of Pangloss and Martin spotlight how much optimism blurs the reality of the world; the differences in the same religion of the old man in Eldorado and the monk demonstrate how artificial those affiliated with religion can be. That Candide disproves the relevance and morality of religion justifies Voltaire’s reason in writing this novella:

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