The Meaning of El Dorado and its contrast with the rest of the world: El Dorado appears to be the perfect utopia, for others it represents an unrealistic place to….
Compare Candide and Tartuffe
In Tartuffe, Moliere’s use’s plot to defend and oppose characters that symbolize and ridicule habitual behavior’s that was imposed during the neo-classical time period. His work, known as a comedy of manners, consists of flat characters, with few and similar traits and that always restore some kind of peace in the end. He down plays society as a whole by creating a microseism, where everyone in the family has to be obedient, respectful, and mindful of the head of the home, which is played by the father Orgon. Mariane shows her obedience when she replies “To please you, sir, is what delights me best. (Moliere 324,11) Shortly afterwards, Orgon commands Mariane to take Tartuffe as her husband even though she is not interested in him at all. Orgon’s command shows how men are dominate and have control over social order. Mariane’s strong obedience to her father (Orgon) supports the Neo-Classical element that the individual is not as important as society. Moliere discusses logic and reasoning by blindfolding Orgon to the reality of Tartuffe’s intentions that causes him to make dumb decisions. In the process, Orgon disregard’s his family when told of Tartuffe’s intentions.
After Tartuffe cons Orgon into believing that Damis’s accusation is false Orgon replies, “I know your motives, I now you wish him ill:/Yes, all of you – wife, children, servants, all – /Conspire against him and desire his fall. ” (Moliere 341-342,46-48) Orgon then excommunicates his own son, indicating that his reasoning is deferred due to his ignorance. This in due course challenges the Neo-Classical belief that logic and reasoning is more important than emotion because Orgon acts solely on his emotions. He feels as if his family has turned against his friend so he operates upon his feelings.
When Damis returns home and Tartuffe (instead of Orgon) gets locked up, order is restored. At the end, the family commends the officer for apprehending the true criminal by saying, “Heaven be praised! / We’re safe. / I can’t believe the danger’s past. ” (Moliere 361, 84-87) This is when Moliere demonstrated the common saying that “what happens in the dark will eventually come to the light, therefore allowing confusion to re-establish its order. Moliere developed a series of flat characters, which satirized the Neo-Classic belief system.
In Candide, Voltaire’s approach is called black comedy. Many devastating factor’s play into the character’s lives that causes the reader to be amused in a cynical way in order to guard their inner feelings. He challenges society as a whole by the way he implements real life occurrences into his writing and makes them come alive. This becomes evident when Dr. Pangloss told Candide what came of Cunegonde at the castle of Westphalia after he left. Pangloss described her as being “disemboweled by the Bulgar soldiers, after having been raped to the absolute limit of human endurance. (Voltaire 524) This causes the imagination to display a vivid picture of the severity of the situation. Furthermore he challenges order by illustrating the human condition. Candide’s confusion causes him to ask, “have they always been liars, traitors, ingrates, thieves, weaklings, sneaks, cowards, backbiters, gluttons, drunkards, misers, climbers, killer’s, calumniators, sensualists, fanatics, hypocrites, and fools? ” (Voltaire 557) There is an ongoing war between people, and all the while Candide and the others are attempting to maintain. Dr. Pangloss represents the optimism that Voltaire challenges.
Pangloss show this by saying, “it was love; love, the consolation of the human race, the preservative of the universe, the soul of all sensitive beings, love, gentle love. ” (Voltaire 525) He challenges, ” optimism by his representation of Dr. Pangloss. Dr. Pangloss’s blind optimistic approach allows him to forget about the fighting that is occurring amongst people and he only sees love. Satirical approaches to writing were used to change the captivated way of thinking during the late 17th and 18th centuries. The Neo-Classic time period contributed in the expansion of people’s view of life.
The Enlightenment period writers focused on reason, knowledge, and rationality as major themes. In this era the Catholic Church was still an extremely powerful institution operating throughout much of Europe; however reason was beginning to emerge as an alternative to faith and religion. As a result, Enlightenment writers began to look at the world critically and rationally. Much of the important literature of the period was satirical in nature, using humor, irony, and exaggeration to expose and criticize people’s stupidity or vices, particularly in the context of contemporary politics and other significant issues.
Two great Enlightenment writers, Moliere and Voltaire, use satirical approaches in their works that have various similarities and differences. The similarities between Moliere’s Tartuffe and Voltaire’s Candide are primarily rooted in common Enlightenment themes. For example, in both stories the writers focus on questioning and criticizing the nature of hierarchies in our society, particularly the members of the aristocratic or upper classes rather than “common” people. In Tartuffe, Orgon and his family are members of the aristocracy.
Orgon owns his estate and clearly has enough money to provide for his entire family in addition to Tartuffe and his friend. Similarly, Voltaire’s story focuses on Candide, who may be missing a fraction of his aristocratic family tree, but is still considered upper class. As the story progresses, the reader sees Candide’s accruement of money and wealth despite his initial expulsion from his uncle’s estate in the first pages of the story. Although both Voltaire and Moliere write about upper class individuals, neither writer focuses on serious psychological characters in their works.
In fact, quite the opposite is true: the characters in both Tartuffe and Candide are relatively one-dimensional. Enlightenment writers commonly used characters that could serve as “types” that would be easily recognizable and identifiable to their audiences. Enlightenment writers like Moliere and Voltaire also do not look deeply into characters. Because the characters are so one-dimensional and because the focus during the time period was on the social aspect rather than psychological characteristics, audiences don’t often see characters alone.
Candide is rarely alone throughout his travels, doing whatever he can do acquire a “side kick” when he lacks company. Describing a character’s individual thoughts in moments of isolation would be more geared toward illuminating the differences between characters. For Enlightenment writers, however, the focus was on the similarities between people rather than these differences. Another similarity between the pieces is a very little sense of nature or the natural world. Tartuffe. In Candide, the main characters trek across the globe, yet the reader is offered very little description of the locations hey visit. For Enlightenment writers, settings are simply background. Instead, the focus is on the conversation between the characters and the social aspect of events or situations. There was simply little interest in things considered to be outside of society. Although there are many similarities between the two writers, there is about a century’s difference in the satire between them. Satire changed during this period of time and gained a lot more edge in Voltaire’s time than in Moliere’s, partially because of the new scrutiny and criticism of people.
Voltaire’s satire, for example, is a lot more focused and daring. On the other hand, the threshold for social criticism in Moliere’s time was relatively low. Moliere’s play would have offended the Church so much so that the writer went out of his way to hyperbolize Tartuffe’s hypocrisy. The idea that Tartuffe could have been taken as a “serious” religious figure was problematic for Moliere despite the fact that Tartuffe was not written as a clergyman. Tartuffe’s hypocrisy was as obvious as possible so as not to impugn pious members of the church or clergy.
While both Moliere and Voltaire are masterful writers, their satirical approaches have various similarities and differences. Both writers utilize humor, irony, and exaggeration to make their social commentaries that were primarily directed towards the aristocracy. Despite all of their similarities, however, a major difference between the two writers is the time period during which they wrote. Moliere was forced to use much more subtle satire as a result of the oppressive Catholic Church. Voltaire, on the other hand, wrote nearly one hundred years later and was far less constrained and therefore able to use a much more brutal form of satire.
Nevertheless, both Tartuffe and Candide are excellent representations of Enlightenment thinking and social criticism at the time. ………………………… Tartuffe and Candide are two novels that greatly show a general exaltation of emotion over reason and the senses over intellect. These stories are perfect examples of how life in the neoclassical era also dealt with certain situations that we humans face in today’s world as well. Disputing emotion over reason and the senses over intellect can be explained through both worlds; then and today. Tartuffe on page 19, was written by Moliere. Tartuffe’s them was excess vs. moderation.
This goes to show that any excess is an off route to a disciplined life of reason and therefore, it is an example of disorder and a potential disruption of society. Tartuffe show’s several aspects of hypocrisy. Hypocrisy means pretending to be virtuous when one is not and it is a violation of order because it poses two realities, reality and its pretense, when we know there is really only one. The reason for hypocrisy is their reaction, not their emotion. Several people in this story were guilty of wrongful reasoning, to provoke hypocrisy. Their sense of intellect was misled by their emotions over wrongful reasoning.
Tartuffe and Orgon were major victims of hypocrisy. Tartuffe led Orgon to believe he’s a pure and a loyal friend when in fact he was not that. Tartuffe also tried to take of advantage of Orgon’s wife, Elmire. He also used Mariane to get closer to Orgon’s name and possessions, by convincing Orgon to force his daughter Mariane to marry him. Tartuffe is supposedly supposed to be a “good Christian” by; being out in the open with worship at church services, yet a true Christian wouldn’t do that. But one way Tartuffe is showing good intellect, even if it is used in an unmoral way, is him kneeling to Orgon.
When someone kneels before you, Tartuffe was giving all responsibility, reason, power, judgment to Orgon. Tartuffe is giving power to get power, unlike Orgon who frustrates everyone for power. Orgon is somewhat the villain for giving Tartuffe the power. Orgon is also overly in passion in regards to Tartuffe. He is even worse than Madam Pernelle. He no longer cared about what he was supposed to be responsible for. And he replaced genuine responsibility for his family with unneeded concern for Tartuffe. An example of this act is on page 24 scene 4.
Orgon showed wrongful reasoning by giving his word to Mariane’s true love Valere. And then took his word back by forcing her to marry Tartuffe. And in doing so he let himself fall for Tartuffe’s trap of ruining his family. In this story Orgon is trying to trade responsibility for control. He is also trying to control his family, which is sad. Orgon thinks he is getting older, losing control and is going through what some would call a mid-life crisis. Mariane also shows awful reasoning by letting her dad push her around and agree to her father that she would follow his word to marry Tartuffe when she really didn’t want … ……
Moliere’s Tartuffe, Racine’s Phaedra and Voltaire’s Candide are each exemplary literary works of the 18th century in their own rights. Tartuffe is a satirical comedy, Phaedra an intense tragedy and Candide a thought-provoking travelogue. While each adheres austerely to its genre, various similarities as well as contrasting differences can be traced among the aforementioned works. Written during the Age of Enlightenment, each of these works reflects the ideology of the period and hence, has various similarities. Firstly, each of these works glorifies reason over religion and the theory that man is responsible for his own actions.
These timeless masterpieces were revolutionary among contemporaries. Moliere uses comedy to ridicule hypocrites, impostors and fools who ignore moderate common sense. He mocked certain religious sects and tried to point attention to the corrupt among them. At the time, such ridicule of those associated with the Church was highly unacceptable and was considered radical. Voltaire too tried to poke fun at members of the upper class and institutionalized religion through the character of Cunegonde’s brother – the young baron. He portrayed him as a homosexual and a man of stringent narrow-minded beliefs.
Other ideas and that make this piece revolutionary are the deliberate ridicule of popular beliefs and a scene implying bestiality. Phaedra too was revolutionary because it was the one of the first works that portrayed a story from a feminine point of view. Phaedra is the mythological classic Hippolytus re-written from the perspective of a female protagonist. The first of its sort, Phaedra broke new grounds. Thus each of these works can be considered revolutionary. Another aspect worth comparing is the portrayal of female characters in these plays.
Each of these classics describes their female characters as attractive, smart, opportunistic and deceptive. In Tartuffe, the lady of the house Elmire seduces Tartuffe in order to bring to light his true nature and save her family’s fortune. Racine describes Phaedra as a woman tempted by incest and possessed by jealousy. In Candide, the female characters – Cunegonde, the maid, Paquette and the Marquise of Parolignac are described as opportunistic, astute and conniving. Thus, the three works have a similar discernment of women. These works also portray a similar complexity of relationships.
In Tartuffe, the man of the house – Oregon is portrayed as narrow-minded and gullible. Oregon sticks to his beliefs and there is spell of tension among the family members. He shields himself from common logic and refuses to hear the voice of reason. In Phaedra, Theseus blindly believes the words of another and summons death on to his own son. Candide too has a similar portrayal of family relationships. Cunegonde’s brother refuses permission to allow Candide to marry her because he values the caste system over his sister’s love.
Also, Candide who has sworn immortal love for his beloved Cunegonde tries to revoke his steps when he finds she is no more the attractive young girl he fell in love with and she too willingly gives him up to marry a wealthy governor. These works also lack a hero or a model of perfection. In Tartuffe, the central character is a crook, while Oregon is gullible and Elmire crafty and opportunistic. In Phaedra, the central character is seen as weak and immoral, Theseus as disloyal and Hippolytus as proud and vain. In Candide, the protagonist is easily fooled and commits various sins including adultery and murder during his adventures.
Thus, each of this pieces lack the traditional hero or a paradigm of virtue to look up to. While these works are similar in many ways, they also have wide range of differences. The most notable difference among the genres is the emotional ambience set throughout the individual works. Tartuffe maintains comical situations through every scene, mostly satirical with a touch of slapstick for relief. While, in polar contrast Phaedra maintains a very serious tone throughout the story with a wave of intense scenes troughed with moderation.
Candide however, transcends genres as it moves from tragedy to comedy. Defined as a black comedy, it combines tragedy and comedy to form a new genre. A noteworthy dissimilarity between the three plays is that Moliere and Voltaire use Tartuffe and Phaedra respectively to give vent to their views and opinions on society at the time and its defects. Phaedra however is a take of the Roman classic, Hippolytus from a different perspective. Further, Tartuffe and Candide have a male central character while the story of Phaedra revolves around a female.
As mentioned earlier, Phaedra is far more revolutionary in this context compared to the other two as it tackles a story from a woman’s perspective. Another major point of difference between the genres is the result they achieve. The tragedy of Phaedra evokes the sublime and results in an emotional catharsis for the reader – a purge of feelings. On the other hand, Candide and Tartuffe use the genre of comedy to bring to light the various evils of society. The happy ending gives a reassuring feeling and the scenes of humor are entertainingly amusing.
Hence, the different genres bring out different emotions from the reader. The three pieces are also different by means of the message they pose to deliver to the reader. Tartuffe tries to prove right the statement ‘the end justifies the means,’ with Elmire using Tartuffe’s method against him. Phaedra, an intense and dramatic tragedy, depicts how pride destroys the mighty and Candide debunks the theory ‘Everything is for the best in the best of all possible worlds. ’ The most important factor that unifies each of the three genres is that they all aim to entertain. However their method of reaching this common goal varies.
Tartuffe uses comedy, Phaedra tragedy and Candide transcends genres and uses a combination of both. Hence, they can be seen as different roads that lead to the same destination. Candide Voltaire’s Candide has many themes, though one central, philosophical theme traverses the entire work. This theme is a direct assault on the philosophy of Leibniz, Pope and others. Leibniz held that the world created by God was the best possible world with perfect order and reason. Alexander Pope, similarly, in his Essay on Man, argues that every human being is a part of a greater, rational, grand design of God.
Pangloss stresses this viewpoint-that what appears to be evil is actually part of a greater good-when he asserts to Jacques that “private misfortunes make for public welfare.? /font> Voltaire, on the other hand, found that his own experiences contradicted this optimistic determinism. Much like his protagonist, Candide, Voltaire must abandon this belief after realizing the needless suffering that surrounds him. Thus the major theme of the book revolves around this idea that the world is not the best of all possible ones, that it isn’t determined by reason and order, and that accident and chance play a major role.
Though as a deist, Voltaire believed that God did create the world, he also believed that human injustice and brutality made the world anything but perfect. Furthermore, he believed that the fatalistic philosophy of Pope and others stripped man of his God-given free will. In addition to his anti-philosophy current which runs throughout the work, Voltaire also satirically indicts religion and war. Almost from the first chapter to the last, Voltaire depicts religious men (priests, monks, etc) as hypocrites who don’t live up to the religion they profess to believe.
Most importantly, Voltaire makes the Church out to be one of the most corrupt, violence-ridden institutions on the planet. This is seen both during the Inquisition scene towards the middle of the book as well as the Jesuit satire seen while Candide and Cacambo are in Paraguay. Based largely on Voltaire’s experiences of the Seven Years? War (1756-63), an anti-war message is found throughout the fast-paced narrative of Candide. Voltaire bitingly criticizes both the French (Abares) and the Prussians (Bulgars). Casually describing the thousands of dead soldiers on both sides, Voltaire underscores how wasteful these “heroes? re of human life, clearly showing his anti-war sentiments. During one such battle, Candide, his protagonist, hides, doing his best to keep away from the needless bloodshed and “heroic butchery.? After the battle subsides, he escapes through the battlefield, seeing the “scattered brains and severed limbs? that “littered the ground.? /font> Thus, Voltaire bashes a multitude of people and institutions throughout Candide. Despite his many sources of criticism, however, Voltaire merges all of his satires into one, larger message-that the human world is utterly disutopian.
All of the versions of utopia which Voltaire raises up and then slams down in his work demonstrate such a loss of optimism. Pangloss? utopia, for one, which simply changes the conditions of the word to fit it to the world he knows is proven false, since even Pangloss himself eventually stops believing it. Eldorado, a second kind of utopia, also fails to satisfy Candide, who soon becomes bored, yearning for adventure, and, of course, Cunegonde. Only the decision to simply till the land at the conclusion of the book satisfies a quasi-utopian hope of the reader.
Yet when Pangloss tries to resurrect the idea that this world is a utopia in the second to last paragraph, Candide himself dismisses the notion. The eighteenth century in Europe, more famously known as the “Age of Enlightenment,” was a time of profound literary advances. It was an era that saw the expansion and perfection of the novel and an unprecedented proliferation of socially conscious works. The period produced a veritable slew of classics, two among them clearly being Moliere’s Tartuffe and Voltaire’s Candide. Although written in different times and in different ormats, both works present humorous stories as vehicles for social commentary. Both tales would be classics for their satire alone, but it is their portrayal of women that is perhaps most interesting. European women in the eighteenth century occupied a precarious position between the ponderous advance of liberalism and the lingering influence of traditional gender roles, and the two works offer broad insights into the lives of such women. Moliere’s Tartuffe and Voltaire’s Candide both feature sympathetic and dignified portrayals of strong female characters subordinated or oppressed by eighteenth century society.
One such character in Moliere’s Tartuffe is Dorine, the lady-maid to Orgon’s wife Elmire. In Tartuffe, Moliere presents Dorine as an intelligent woman with a good understanding of human behavior. Moliere attests to her intelligence early in the story by showing her to be the most perceptive member of the household. Unlike Orgon, who is so dimwitted and foolish that he is completely blind to Tartuffe’s chicanery, Dorine is able to “see right through him,” bluntly declaring him a “fraud” (Moliere 25).
Dorine is also consistently presented as outspoken and opinionated, frequently chastising Orgon’s actions, particularly concerning the marriage of Mariane and Tartuffe (Moliere 40-42). Furthermore, although Moliere places Dorine in the relatively low position of a lady-maid, he is always quick to display her innate intelligence, dignity, and perceptiveness. In doing so, Moliere actually depicts Dorine as a walking contradiction; Dorine clearly possesses mental acuity beyond her station, but she is still a maid.
Her situation illustrates the position of countless proletarian women of the age: competent and intelligent, but mired in inequality and menial labor. As Dorine states in the play, ironically speaking of Madame Pernelle rather than herself, “She’s thus because she can’t be otherwise” (Moliere 27). Moliere’s commentary on society is exceptionally penetrating here. In making Dorine, a servant (and a female at that), perceptive and intelligent, and the higher class men of the household either hopelessly foolish or ineffectual, he is demonstrating that class and gender mean little in determining one’s worth or intellect.
Elmire, the dutiful wife of the dullard Orgon, is portrayed in a similar manner despite her different position. In Tartuffe, Moliere depicts the character as a resourceful and intelligent woman much like Dorine. Elmire is clearly shown to be mentally superior to her husband, to the point that she becomes frustrated with her husband’s gullibility concerning Tartuffe, saying bluntly that “[Orgon’s] blindness takes [her] breath away” (Moliere 67). Elmire is also a key figure in Moliere’s work.
When Orgon refuses to admit that Tartuffe could possibly harbor adulterous intentions, Elmire takes the initiative and persuades her stubborn husband to hide under a table while she manipulates Tartuffe into admitting his nefarious intent (Moliere 68-69). The fact that Elmire is forced to manipulate her husband’s decisions rather than make her own, however, is a clear illustration of the subordinate status of women in eighteenth century marriage. For all her cunning, Elmire is still presented as the subordinate figure in the marriage; it is Orgon who controls the finances, home, and daughters of the family.
Indeed, Moliere depicts Elmire as a character much like Dorine: strong, sympathetic, yet ultimately subject to the patriarchal society of the eighteenth century. Elmire is restrained by her status as a wife, Dorine is restrained by her position as a maid, and both are ultimately subordinated by virtue of being female. A similar portrayal of women comes in Voltaire’s Candide, particularly in the character Cunegonde, Candide’s love interest and ultimate wife. Voltaire presents Cunegonde as a simple but honest woman with the potent advantages of being “of noble lineage” and “rosy-cheeked, fresh, plump, and appetizing” (276).
Unlike Moliere, Voltaire does not imbue his female characters with outstanding intelligence; instead, his female characters exhibit a keen understanding of human behavior born from life experience and intuition. Arthur Scherr comments on this in his article “Voltaire’s ‘Candide’: a tale of women’s equality,” stating that Cunegonde: Unfortunately, Cunegonde eventually undergoes horrific experiences at the hands of several men in Candide. In her terrible journey, Cunegonde becomes a symbol of the more terrible and overt crimes perpetrated towards women in the eighteenth century and throughout time.
Throughout the course of the novel, Cunegonde suffers rape, mutilation, and multiple kidnappings (Voltaire 286-287). Although she is able to recover from the experiences, and actually becomes somewhat stronger in doing so, she is nevertheless victimized and traumatized by eighteenth century warfare and society. Much like Moliere’s Dorine and Elmire, Cunegonde is limited by her status as a female, and suffers atrocities as a result. Voltaire is perhaps somewhat hyperbolic in creating her story for effect, but the spirit of her experiences is not unlike those of many European women caught in the many wars of the eighteenth century.
Ultimately, Voltaire portrays Cunegonde as a sympathetic woman who retains her dignity despite experiencing the worst of social realities in eighteenth century Europe. Indeed, Moliere’s Tartuffe and Voltaire’s Candide both present strong portrayals of sympathetic, dignified women restrained or aggressed against by eighteenth century society. Though the works differ greatly in style, one can see social commentary on the status of women in Moliere’s mild, amusing comedy and Voltaire’s sensational, abrasive satire.
The authors’ female characters are strong, complex figures that, much like many women of the eighteenth century, were forced to exist in a position of relative weakness. Ironically, it is the very ability of those authors to see such injustices that is probably most influenced by the Enlightenment ideas and slowly expanding liberalism of the era itself. Whatever the case may be, both works stand even today as classics, not just for their brilliant satire, but also for their potent insight into the experiences of eighteenth century women.
Considering Tartuffe was written in the 17th century, you might expect the female characters to be soft-spoken, demure, and generally pretty dull. But that couldn’t be further from the truth – well, except in the case of Mariane; she’s soft-spoken, demure, and generally pretty dull. But Elmire and Dorine – that’s a whole different story. Each one defies convention with gusto: they do some things that would still be audacious even today. They’re quick-witted, strong-willed, and a bit saucy. They’re a match for their male counterparts anytime, any day. http://www. shmoop. om/tartuffe/women-femininity-quotes. html Voltaire’s Candide is a very funny satire that skewers the Optimistic attitude that “this is the best of all possible worlds. ” Obviously, considering the horrific events Candide goes through, this isn’t the best of anything. Candide has several companions in his misadventures, notably Dr. Pangloss, his mentor and tutor; and Cacambo, his servant. Of the women in the tale, two are most important: Cunegonde, the woman Candide loves, and the old woman, whom he meets on his travels. This paper will compare and contrast the way the two women are presented in the novel.
II Cunegonde Cunegonde is Candide’s true love. She is the daughter of the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh, who raised Candide in his castle. She is beautiful, desirable, and despite all the horrible things that happen to her, she is fearfully dull. She is raped and cut open by Bulgarian soldiers (she notes it isn’t always necessary to die from such treatment); sold to numerous men as a sexual plaything; reunited with Candide; parted from him; and reunited again at the end of the book. She isn’t very bright, and she’s essentially passive as a doormat.
She fights her Bulgarian rapist, but as soon as she’s rescued (by a Bulgarian captain, not Candide) she becomes his willing servant and his lover. When he grows tired of her, he sells her to a Jew named Don Issachar, who adores women. But soon after that she catches the eye of the Grand Inquisitor, who also wants her. The two men work out an arrangement whereby Don Issachar visits her Monday, Wednesday and the Sabbath; the Grand Inquisitor has the other four days of the week, though there have been some arguments, apparently, about when the Sabbath begins and ends.
Soon after Cunegonde tells Candide her tale, Don Issachar shows up. He immediately attacks Candide, and Candide kills him. A few moments later, the Grand Inquisitor arrives, and Candide figures that he’ll turn them in, so he kills him, too. Then he, Cunegonde and the old woman escape from the scene. When they arrive at an inn, Cunegonde comment is “Where will I find another Jew and another inquisitor to give me more jewels? She is for sale to the highest bidder; she also has the brains of a flea, and because Candide is a bright young man, his devotion to her is ridiculous; a satirical example of men’s weakness for women. III The Old Woman The old woman is a much livelier character, despite the fact that she’s so much older, and despite the fact that she has been through many of the same ordeals as the younger woman: she has been raped numerous times, sold far more often than Cunegonde, and even had one buttock cut off to feed the janissaries that were defending her and other women of a harem.
The daughter of Pope Urban X, she has been raised in luxury only to fall prey to pirates and sold into slavery. But she meets his misfortunes with an energy and drive that Cunegonde lacks. She even says at one point: “I have been a hundred times upon the point of killing myself, but still I was fond of life. ” (Voltaire, PG). The greatest difference between the two lies in the old woman’s active stance, as contrasted with Cunegonde’s passivity. We learn that the old woman was sold at last to a Boyard, who put her to work in the fields and lashed her every day.
But instead of simply assuming this was her lot in life, she did something about it: “But this nobleman having about two years afterwards been broken alive upon the wheel, with about thirty others, for some court intrigues, I took advantage of the event, and made my escape. ” (Voltaire, PG). After escaping, she tells us, she traveled through many different countries, making her living as a servant at various inns and hostels. In this too she is different from Cunegonde, who has been satisfied to allow men to keep her.
She has lived a live that is actually much harder than Cunegonde’s, because the latter has been sheltered and cared for by men who wanted her for her beauty and sexual charms, which meant that she was well-treated (if any woman being sold against her will can be said to be well-treated). Still, both Don Issachar and the Grand Inquisitor gave her rich gifts, good food and fine wine; no one did such things for the older woman. True, they were both little better than slaves, but Cunegonde accepted her chains while the old woman fought hers.
Finally, as she finishes relating her tale, the old woman says “I have a great deal of knowledge and experience in the world…” (Voltaire, PG). And that may be the biggest difference of all. Cunegonde, as I say, is not very bright, and so the things that she’s been through mean little to her, and she hasn’t learned much from them. But the old woman has gained a great deal of experience, and furthermore, put it to use. She has escaped from the Boyard and made a living for herself in many different countries, surely not an easy thing to do. IV Conclusion
The women in Candide, in general, suffer a great deal of physical hardship. Rape abounds, as does torture, mutilation and other types of general mayhem. But they react to their misfortunes very differently. Cunegonde accepts whatever happens to her passively; indeed, one gets the impression that she simply lets events roll over her, neither noticing nor caring much what happens. The old woman, however, is very much aware of what’s going on, and she actively involves herself with events. In so doing, she becomes the more attractive character.