Voltaire expressed them to be lost, hot blooded people resulting from a lack of structured religion that Western civilization had cultivated. He portrayed Africans to be the extreme opposite of Western society. He also illustrated their attitudes toward women to be very disrespectful. This led to all of the female characters in Voltaire's stories to fall victim to rape, ridicule and sexual exploitation. These characters had very little complexity or importance throughout the novel. The subject of rape was a prevalent theme in Candidesince all of the female characters suffered through it at least on one occasion. When Cunegonde describes the attack on her family and her subsequent rape, she merely states that it is the customary way of doing things(Voltaire 23). Voltaire portrayed these foreign people and female characters as society saw them in the 1800s; uncivilized and impotent.The treatment of these characters also mirrored their treatment in real life. Through Candide's travels and misadventures, every person he encounters not of his own race and gender, meets tragedy in some form or fashion. Whether Voltaire had intended to do so or not, these triumphs over tragedy showed an immense resilience these foreign and female characters possessed.
The purpose of setting his stories in foreign locations stemmed from a couple intentions. As previously stated, Voltaire felt inclined to make a point of showing how minorities are perceived and persecuted. Through Candide's travels to several foreign places, he was able to showcase this with more than one ethnic group.Another reason for Voltaire's choice of Eastern and Mideastern countries for the setting of his stories could possibly be because of the fascinationby exoticism particularly A Thousand and One Nights (Voltaire 369).He also wanted to show that optimism of the human spirit is shared by people of all different types of races and backgrounds, as well as societies.
[...] Lastly, Voltaire ridiculed European society through a tale involving an Anabaptist named James. The Anabaptists were often persecuted because of their ‘radical' religious beliefs. He ridiculed this hatred by showing James' kindness. Candide found himself in Holland where he had no food or water, and so asked one of the Protestant citizens for some bread. After Candide did not admit that the pope was the antichrist, the citizen yelled at him, don't deserve to eat go you scoundrel, you wretch, never come near me while his wife dumped a bucket of waste on Candide's head (Voltaire 24). [...]
[...] The old woman explained, am the daughter of Pope X and the princess of Palestrina” (Voltaire 42). She then went on to talk about the palace she grew up in and the riches she enjoyed and how she was promised to marry a prince of Massa-Carrara. This story showed the corruption within the Catholic Church because the pope was supposed to be celibate and a humble example of Christ but instead had a daughter who wore dresses “worth more than all the splendor in Westphalia”, a wife who was a princess, and a “palace so magnificent that all the castles of [the] German barons couldn't have served as its stable” (Voltaire 42). [...]
[...] Later on in the story, James saves a drowning sailor while he and Candide are traveling to Lisbon, in the course of his efforts, he was thrown into the sea in full view of the sailor, who let him parish without deigning to even look at (Voltaire 28). The tale of James' kind actions helped Voltaire display the silliness of religious prejudices held by the Catholic Church. Voltaire. Candide, Zadig and Selected Stories. New York, NY. Signet Classic Print. [...]
[...] He also illustrated their attitudes toward women to be very disrespectful. This led to all of the female characters in Voltaire's stories to fall victim to rape, ridicule and sexual exploitation. These characters had very little complexity or importance throughout the novel. The subject of rape was a prevalent theme in Candidesince all of the female characters suffered through it at least on one occasion. When Cunegonde describes the attack on her family and her subsequent rape, she merely states that it is customary way of doing things”(Voltaire 23). [...]
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