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Candide


             One of the most famous satires in literary history is Candide by Voltaire. It both explores and mocks the ideals held so true by the Enlightenment philosophers, and the policies of the period's government. Voltaire is skeptical of the likelihood of the perfect, enlightened world, where everyone is peaceful and treats each other equally, actually ever existing. This is based purely on previous actions of colonizers and missionaries in the Americas. Voltaire's mocking of the Enlightenment thinkers in such a straightforward manner was considered inflammatory because of the style in which he did it. One of the reasons behind his graphic descriptions is that he keenly felt the suffering that others endured in the quest for either the true religion, or in "bettering- what was considered by colonizers a "primitive- society. Voltaire was not writing for pure shock value, he was writing to express his frustration with the socially powerful people of the time and their behavior towards colonization, religion, and war. .
             Voltaire starts his story with a comment on the ridiculousness of the rules about aristocratic marriage. When Voltaire starts the story Candide is the illegitimate nephew of a Baron, who wants to marry his cousin, Cunégonde, who is the Baron's daughter. Candide is illegitimate because his father's nobility could only be traced back to seventy-one generations, and apparently that is not enough to prove Candide worthy for marriage. This makes Candide unworthy to marry his cousin, a common practice among the aristocracy to ensure the continued noble lineage. When the Baron discovers Cunégonde and Candide kissing behind a screen, Candide is banished, as he is not noble enough to marry her. The practices behind aristocratic marriage is introduced very early on in the book, but it is repeated when Cunégonde's brother, a colonel in South America, refuses to let Candide marry her.


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