Voltaire’s resentment of the Catholic Church often showed up in his writings.
During his sixty year literary career, Voltaire wrote many plays, poems, and books, including Letters Concerning the English Nation, which is about the Enlightenment, and Candide, a book about the illusion of optimism. Throughout his life, most of Voltaire’s works attacked the corrupt systems in the French society. He highly believed the Catholic Church had too much control on its followers. Religion, or in this case, Catholicism, was being used as a safety blanket by the people of France. There is nothing wrong with using religion as a form of reassurance, however Voltaire believed the Catholic Church had started to take advantage of the French citizen’s trust. This is seen when Haydn Trevor Mason states in his article The Importance of Candide, “Human beings are…. also delightfully foolish, even mad. For they surround themselves with systems of belief to keep the sense of evil at bay,” (Mason 11). As said …show more content…
Published in 1759, Voltaire made fun of many of the crucial elements of The Enlightenment. He even went as far as to insult literature itself. The main theme of the story Candide is that Voltaire believes optimism is not realistic. This can be observed when Voltaire writes, “You’re a bitter man, said Candide. That 's because I 've lived, said Martin,” (Voltaire 92). One can infer that Voltaire based Martin, a pessimistic fellow, on himself. While he was rather optimistic man in his youth, Voltaire gradually started to question his own beliefs and, with time, shifted from a positive view of the world to a rather negative view. Especially after the Lisbon earthquake, which occurred in Portugal, on November 1, 1755. This incident affected Voltaire so deeply, he incorporated this real life event into Candide. Based on Joyce Moss and her article Candide,
The Lisbon earthquake horrified people across Europe. Many thinkers and philosophers reevaluated their positions in the wake of the catastrophe. Voltaire, living in Geneva, Switzerland, at the time, was especially effected; his faith in God was shaken and he found himself questioning the optimistic belief that everything happens for the best. (Moss