Voltaire's Candide (Blake and Kazin, 1976) Contain Term Paper

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Voltaire's "Candide" (Blake and Kazin, 1976) contain aspects of anti-religious sentiments. Both epics are quasi-historical -- they provide a commentary on the prevailing times; both works also provide a view into Blake and Voltaire's personal opinions and leanings. Voltaire was educated by the Jesuits -- priests belonging to the society of Jesuits. Voltaire railed against the prevailing cultural and religious mores that sought to forget socio-economic conditions to satisfy some pre-ordained, religious (mis)interpretations of divine mandates. Blake, similarly, was mortified by the dualism practiced by the religious of the time. He did not like or appreciate the way in which every thing was seen from the point of black or white. If the Church deemed something unfit, the practitioner of that aspect of life came under severe remonstrations and even met the ultimate penalty of death. Both authors struggle against the fact that these rules were beneficial to those in the higher "estates," the ill-effects of which were borne by the common man. Today, moral relativism is much ballyhooed. During the days of Blake and Voltaire however, there was no room or tolerance for alternative worldviews. The following couplets describe the relationship between the two writers can be summed up in Blake's own words:

Mock on, Mock on, Voltaire, Rousseau,

Mock on, Mock on, 'tis all in vain (Blake and Kazin, 1976, p. 142)

Candide is several novels rolled into one. It involves romance, graphic violence, sexuality, philosophy, religious persecution and international intrigue. The narrative however, provides for one distinct thesis. Those who live real lives must forgo philosophy for pragmatism. The protagonist, Candide, starts out as a commoner in the home of a nobleman (Pangloss). To make a long story extremely short, he undergoes an Odyssean odyssey (Homer and Hull, 1978) and ends up tending a small farm, finally content in the life of a commoner.
During his travails and travels, he comes across pillars of Catholicism and Protestantism. Both are primarily the antagonists in the narrative. They are the very embodiment of evil and the opposite of how they present themselves. Voltaire casts the religious in the role of hypocrites, exposing their hypocrisies at every turn. The only soft spot he spares is for the Anabaptists (in the form of the character of Jacques) -- who generally eschew the typical religious trappings for realism, which makes him kind and generous "the good Jacques ran to his aid..." (p. 118, Voltaire).

The first example of protestant hypocrisy is through Candide's forays through Holland. The country is in the grips of a famine. The poor, especially the children, are starving. Yet the protestant orator stands at the street corners waxing philosophies, "to a man discoursing on charity.... (p. 115, Voltaire)" He represents the pettiness of those that argue over who squabble over theological doctrine while people around them suffer the ravages of war, famine, and poverty. The orator's main reason for being is to convert people to his ways of thinking rather than carrying about real social ills.

The Catholics are not spared either. Candide encounters a bastard child of the Pope. He rails against the savage brutality wrought upon unsuspecting people by the Spanish Inquisition. The grand Inquisitor who pretends to be a modicum of decency and morality keeps the heroine, Cunegonde, as his sex-slave "***** of a Galilean, isn't it enough to have the Inquisitor?" (p. 126, Voltaire). Throughout the narrative, the religious and the Church are cast as immoral and depraved. They are cast as murderers and slave masters. There is a reference….....

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