Candide Essay

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Darren Felty is a Visiting Instructor at the College of Charleston. In the following essay, he explores how Voltaire satirizes both extreme optimism and extreme pessimism through his characters' reactions to the world's evils.

Candide is a dazzling display of ridiculously brutal situations that dramatize the many evils of human experience. Voltaire speeds the reader through multiple episodes of extreme cruelty that prove both horrible and vibrantly comic. Nothing seems to escape his satiric treatment, and one is tempted to say that Voltaire's only purpose in the work is to condemn. A closer reading, however, reveals the limitations of this perception. Voltaire's criticisms are tempered by both comic exaggeration and a strong moral sense that wishes to expose wrongs in order to alleviate them. The key targets of Voltaire's satire are totalizing perceptions of the world, whether extreme optimism or extreme pessimism, both of which offer excuses for...

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This section contains 2,036 words
(approx. 6 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Candide Study Guide
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Candide from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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