Tragic Wit: Realism and Comedy as Satirical Tools in Voltaire ‘s Candide

There are few chapters in Voltaire ‘s authoritative sarcasm Candide that are entirely comedic ; in truth, it seems there are fewer still that do non throw visible radiation on the tragic debasement, devastation, and immorality of a humanity fed on others misery. An optimist, the character of Candide should contrast straight the pessimism and sadness of the universe around him. However, even his interactions and experiences do little, in world, to battle an image of a cold and barbarous universe. This is, of class, at the root of Voltaire ‘s satirical mastermind. Candide is captured into the service of the Bulgarians, finds that his love, Mademoiselle Cunegonde ‘s household has been torn apart, she herself raped and about killed, sold from one adult male to another until she can keep her lucks as a kept woman to powerful work forces. Voltaire ‘s Candide experiences a world that is helter-skelter in its dichotomy, with non one cabal of his life looking safe or inalterable. Through the people he encounters and the ways in which they cope and shoulder the calamity and gifts of their lives with equal assuredness, Candide ‘s battle is edged with a dry wit. This wit works with the abrasiveness of the world to impart a human position to the political and societal issues Voltaire seeks to satirise.

It is hard to nail any one big case of wit in Candide, rather merely because the wit is of a smaller nature. Alternatively it works to congratulate the escapades of Candide, as he crisscrosses the universe while pulling on and underscoring the inequalities and calamities of society ‘s establishments. At the beginning of his travels, Candide still believes naively in the doctrine of his old instructor, Pangloss. This doctrine believes that, “ since everything is made for an terminal, everything is needfully for the best terminal ” ( Voltaire 521 ) . Candide and Pangloss ‘s other students are shortly confronted by the atrociousnesss of the universe – decease, devastation, colza, and misrepresentation – and yet seem to mostly still cleaving lovingly to the memory and doctrine of their naively optimistic instructor. It is merely after losing everything and hearing the narratives of the others that Candide begins to see the folly in this doctrine. Through the wit laced brushs and close and absolute calamity, Voltaire illustrates the resiliency of humanity through such characters as the old adult female who cares for Candide after he has been flogged by the Inquisition.

The old adult female has been through combinations of panic debasement that should hold reduced her humanity but alternatively have created. The optimism built-in to Pangloss ‘s version of destiny undermines the truth of life and rubrics over hurting and calamity as portion of a larger cosmopolitan program. However, the wit which peppers the old adult female ‘s narrative, the Princess of Palestrina, shows the lip service of the systems of society which propagates this ideal. A premier illustration of this wit is the adult female ‘s description of her abduction by Morocco plagiarists. “ Our soldiers defended themselves as apostolic military personnels normally do ; falling on their articulatio genuss and throwing down their weaponries, they begged of the Barbary pirate absolution ” . ( 535 ) . The image presented is meant to be both humourous and exemplifying of the semblance of faith and societal place. Though the household of the Pope, the old adult female and the other adult females aboard are abandoned to the caprice of the plagiarists. Neither their spiritual association, societal rank, money nor beauty are able to protect them from being murdered, and in the instance of the old adult female sold from agent to broker – holding in one case one cheek sliced off to forestall herself from being cannibalized.

While the adult female has in some ways accepted her batch in life, demoing complicity that is at the root of such institutionalised systems that promote obeisance and blind credence, her wit lends to Voltaire overall sarcasm on the impression of felicity as an absent ideal. Having suffered countless calamities throughout her long life, the old adult female notes, “ a 100 times I wanted to kill myself, but ever I loved life more ” ( 538 ) . “ This pathetic failing is possibly the most black of our dispositions ; for is their anything sillier than to want to bear continually a load one ever wishes to throw on the land ” ( 538 ) . While it is supportive, in her look of it here, of Candide ‘s ain optimism it still belies a pragmatism that there is small in her calamity that can or has been justified by adult male or God. She has suffered and in her agony has sought to keep onto the brief triumphs and felicity that she has attained. Her point is subsequently echoed by Candide when in explicating the thought of optimism to Cacambo he shows that his ain blind belief in the abstract of felicity preached by Pangloss is more lunacy than world. In sing the disturbance of Candide ‘s very impression of life through a harsh and dramatized pragmatism, Voltaire leads the reader to Candide ‘s ain decisions. Humor works with this pragmatism to move as a springboard for innuendos against the establishments and conventions that have created and prolonged some of the greatest wretchednesss in the universe.

Voltaire, Francois-Marie Aronet de. Candide. The Norton Anthology of World Literature: 1650 to 1800. Ed. Sarah Lawall, et Al. 2nd erectile dysfunction. Vol. D. New York: W.W. Norton & A ; Co. , 2001. 520-582.