We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you’re on board with our cookie policy

Voltaire’s “Candide” and Jonathan Swift’s “Gulliver’s Travels”: vehicles for satire

essay
The whole doc is available only for registered users

A limited time offer! Get a custom sample essay written according to your requirements urgent 3h delivery guaranteed

Order Now

Throughout Voltaire’s Candide and Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, the main characters of the works (Candide and Gulliver respectively) serve as vehicles for satire through which the authors can convey their views. It is important to note that both Candide and Gulliver serve as irons throughout the book; that is to say, the reader is shown irony through the actions of these characters, while at the same time the characters are naïve and remain oblivious to their situation (on a satiric level, at least).

Candide is a humorous tale by Voltaire satirizing the optimism promoted by the philosophers of Enlightenment era. Throughout his travels, Candide adheres to the teachings of his tutor, Pangloss, believing that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” Candide is essentially Voltaire’s answer to what he saw as an absurd belief proposed by the so-called “enlightened” optimists of his era. Voltaire simply refused to believe that what happens is always for the best.

The attack on the statement that things are for “the best of all possible worlds” is a recurring theme throughout the entire novel, in which references to this claim satirically contrast with natural disaster and human wrongdoing. When reunited with the now-diseased Pangloss, Candide asks if the Devil is at fault. Pangloss simply responds that “the disease was a necessity in ‘the best of all possible worlds’, for it was brought to Europe by Columbus’ men, who also brought chocolate and cochineal, two greater goods that well offset any negative effects of the disease'”.

Eventually though, due to a great number of misfortunes, Candide begins to “see through” the blind optimism to the sheer hopelessness of Pangloss’ philosophy. Voltaire concludes the book by having Candide discover that “…work keeps us from three great evils; boredom, vice and need.” Candide and his band of followers consider these words and decide that they “must cultivate their garden.” Even though a philosopher of the Enlightenment himself, Voltaire uses Candide as a platform to criticize the blind optimism of his peers.

Gulliver’s Travels was written by Jonathan Swift, at a time of political change and scientific invention, and many of the events he describes in the book can easily be linked to contemporary events in Europe. One of the reasons that the stories are deeply amusing is that, by combining real issues with entirely fantastic situations and characters, they suggest that the realities of 18th-century England were as fantastic as the situations in which Gulliver finds himself.

In Gulliver’s Travels, Swift satirizes the English political system and the absurdities in English society. He creates Lilliput and its very small citizens as a way to show his views on the ridiculous ways in which the English people win political offices. In England at the time, men were elected to a government office usually because of their prominent name, social status, wealth, or simply their skill in encouraging people to vote for them. Swift satirizes this by creating the story of the Lilliputians and their tightrope walking. Anyone who wishes to hold a political office in Lilliput must first perform a series of tricks on a tightrope in front of the public. The office they are elected to depends solely on their performance of these tricks. In this, Swift is saying that English politicians and legislators are not qualified for the offices they hold, and they have no knowledge of how to run a government. They are merely putting on a show for the public.

Swift also creates another civilization, Brobdingnag, in his stories, in which the citizens are twelve times larger than normal people. They are very honest and moral, and they have an ideal governmental system in which the king serves as a just and generous ruler. The nobles of Brobdingnag poke fun at the English for their system of party politics when Gulliver speaks of the Whigs and the Tories, and also ridicule English fashion. The king is appalled by the governmental practices that Gulliver praises and states that England is run by a government full of unqualified men who are ignorant and full of vice (odious vermin). Ironically, Gulliver loves his country and is upset by the king’s attacks, but at the same time it is apparent that the government that Gulliver so adores is unscrupulous and its citizens are full of corruption.

By bringing to light fundamental yet very important problems with society through naive “irons”, conveys to the reader the point that the he is driving at, maintains a sense of innocence (that is to say, it’s not the authors point of view, but the main characters’), and, while achieving these goals, still manages to entertain the reader with fantastical plots.

Related Topics

We can write a custom essay

According to Your Specific Requirements

Order an essay
icon
300+
Materials Daily
icon
100,000+ Subjects
2000+ Topics
icon
Free Plagiarism
Checker
icon
All Materials
are Cataloged Well

Sorry, but copying text is forbidden on this website. If you need this or any other sample, we can send it to you via email.

By clicking "SEND", you agree to our terms of service and privacy policy. We'll occasionally send you account related and promo emails.
Sorry, but only registered users have full access

How about getting this access
immediately?

Your Answer Is Very Helpful For Us
Thank You A Lot!

logo

Emma Taylor

online

Hi there!
Would you like to get such a paper?
How about getting a customized one?

Can't find What you were Looking for?

Get access to our huge, continuously updated knowledge base

The next update will be in:
14 : 59 : 59