Women In Candide

Superior Essays
Delights and Torments: An Analysis of Female Beauty in Voltaire’s Candide Voltaire’s satire Candide is one that centers on suffering, the causes thereof, and how mankind learns to endure it. While the story focuses on the pain of the titular character and his friends, most of whom are men, the torments that the women endure, and the cause of those torments, cannot be ignored. Through the story of Candide, Voltaire claims that female beauty is a source of pain for women, and ruination for men who desire them. Only when the women in the story lose their beauty do their miseries come to an end. This suffering as a result of beauty is illustrated through the three recurring female characters in the story: Candide’s lover Cunégonde, the old …show more content…
Paquette is the least of the three main female characters; she only appears a few times in the story and only for a few short scenes. However, she provides perhaps the clearest demonstration of Voltaire’s argument regarding female beauty. Characteristically, she is introduced to the audience when Cunégonde spots her having sex with Pangloss in the woods (101). Later, it is learned that Pangloss has contracted syphilis from Paquette; he says, “In her arms I tasted the delights of paradise which directly caused these torments of hell, from which I am now suffering” (106). Paquette appears on the surface “a very attractive and obedient brunette” (101), but her beauty is the undoing of Pangloss. This temptation and the consequences thereof play into the idea of beauty as the source of destruction for both those who possess it and those who are beguiled by it. Meanwhile, after being raped and disemboweled by the Bulgars like Cunégonde (105) and passing through several men, Paquette turns to prostitution to ensure her survival (145). Eventually, her beauty also fades, a discovery that gives Pangloss great catharsis: “Do you realize you cost me the end of my nose, one eye, and an ear? And look at you now!” (158). With her beauty in ruins, Paquette arrives in Constantinople, suffering because she can no longer make money

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