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Layla Ziani

My fav class

Subject Name

04 September 20XX

Candide Supervised Essay Prompt #1

Gandhi once said, “be the change you want to see in the world.” Although Voltaire was

much older than Gandhi, he still had many aspects of society that he wanted to change for the

better. Not only did Voltaire live by his principles, but most famously, he wrote a satirical novel

on the condition of being optimistic that was called, ​Candide​. Although Voltaire does not

directly give his opinion on optimism in his novel, his use of horatian and juvenalian satire

ranging from war to love, gives the reader insight into what Voltaire believed about these

matters. Most famously, Voltaire satirizes religion, in order to bring insight into his personal

view that the organization of spiritual beliefs is corrupt, evil, and can lead to hypocrisy within the

church.

Although Voltaire does not directly express his own personal beliefs on the matter of

religion, his use of satire provides readers insight into Voltaire’s opinion on organized religion

which he believes to corrupt, hypocritical and keeping the human race from achieving progress

and excellence. In the beginning of novel, the main character, Candide has just escaped the

Bulgar army and is in dire need of shelter, food, and water. After traveling and groveling

long and far distances, Candide finally witness’ a Catholic Orator preaching a sermon “ on the

subject of charity” (Voltaire 26). After approaching this Catholic, Candide asks him “for alms”

(Voltaire 27) and safe place to spend the night. Taking one look at Candide, the Catholic Orator
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believed that he “[didn’t] deserve to eat” (Voltaire 27). The Catholic Orator was disgusted that a

man like Candide would even approach him. The Orator was so repulsed by what stood in front

of him that he warned Candide to never “come near [him] again or [he’ll] suffer for it” (Voltaire

27). Feeling defeated, Candide believed no one was ever going to help him, however, shortly

after a young gentleman, by the name of James the Anabaptist “brought him home and washed

him” (Voltaire 27). The young Ana-Baptist was so kind that he even “offered [Candide] to

apprentice him to his business” (Voltaire 27). During this time, many Protestants were severely

persecuted by Catholics for being heretics, demons, and the followers of the antichrist. Voltaire,

being inspired by many Protestant reformers, used these two characters as a foil for comparison.

In this case, Voltaire is outlining the blatant hypocrisy within the Catholic Church during this

time. He wants to outline to the readers of the 18th century that just because one was a

Protestant does not mean that they were “a villain” (Voltaire 27) to the common people. In

addition, diving deeper into this foil, Voltaire also flips the roles between the two characters.

During the the 18th century, the Catholic Church was seen as the one true faith, it was the purest

most good faith out of all the religions. However, in this situation, Voltaire paints the anabaptist,

who was a Protestant, as the true follower of Jesus because he is the one who is upholding the

gospel’s teaching of helping the poor and “loving thy neighbor” while the Catholic Orator

virtually subhumazises Candide and does not offer him shelter. Voltaire does this in order to

show to the world that organized religion is a fraudulent establishment rooted in hypocrisy and

prevents the world from progress. In addition, in the middle of the Voltaire’s novel, Candide

escapes to the hidden city of riches: El Dorado. During their stay at this majestic place, Candide

notices that there is no war, no famine and no inequality. When taking to one of the wise men of
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the city, he shares El Dorado’s religious traditions of “ never praying” (Voltaire 79) to God

because they “have nothing to ask of [Him]” (Voltaire 79). When understanding their religious

traditions, Candide starts to observe their city’s architecture, they walk into a small home with a

“door of meere silver” (Voltaire 78) and “rooms panelled with nothing better than gold”

(Voltaire 78). Voltaire describes El Dorado to not only compare the differences between this

majestic city and European way of life, but he also symbolizes El Dorado as a Utopia that

Europe could one day achieve if it was not so wrapped up in organized Catholicism, which

inhibits free will and reinforces inequality within the classes, which in this case, El Dorado does

not have. Voltaire wants to show the readers that a beautiful world filled with riches, happiness,

and equality with everyone can be achieved if we move away from organized religion and

towards a more secular rooted way of life.

In conclusion, Voltaire satirizes religion and, in order to bring insight into his personal

view that the organization of spiritual beliefs is corrupt, evil, and can lead to hypocrisy within the

church.