Voltaires Candide Satirical Analysis of Hypocrisy
This hypocrisy, in Voltaire’s view, needed to be stamped out so as to transform life in Europe. The church, as depicted in Voltaire’s work, is one of the most hypocritical places. Although the priests and other religious leaders preach the idea of a perfect world, created by a perfect God, they fail to practice this perfection. For example, as Candide and Cunegonde are talking to an old woman, the latter reveals that she is the daughter of Pope Urban X and of the Princess of Palestrina (Voltaire 24). The satire in this is that Catholic priests are meant to be celibate, therefore, raising questions as to how a pope would sire a daughter. Nonetheless, the pope is not the only Catholic priest known to have had sexual relations with a woman. According to Voltaire (18), when the grand catholic inquisitor saw Cunegonde at mass, he admired her so much that he instructed the court banker to take Cunegonde in, and the two men would be sharing her. In this scenario, it is not only odd that an inquisitor keeps a mistress, but the fact that he shares her with another man is far worse. Religious leaders are not the only ones whose hypocrisy is satirized by Voltaire. The very authorities that are supposed to ensure the safety and wellbeing of the citizens are to blame for enslavement, oppression, and killings. For instance, according to Voltaire, the English government kills its own admiral for having not killed enough men during a battle with the French (64). This only shows how hypocrisy is rife in the power ranks of many European countries if one is to take into consideration the idea that the admiral may have been killed for other political reasons. Enslavement is also a common practice in Europe, a practice that Voltaire thinks is out-dated. For instance, Voltaire writes of how Cunegonde has been enslaved by the family of an ancient sovereign (77). In her role as a dishwasher for the prince, Cunegonde has become very ugly and lost all her beauty. The satirical part is, the prince does not have that many dishes to be washed, yet the few that Cunegonde washes are enough to make her lose her beauty, thus symbolizing the evil of slavery. Ironically, even the Baron had once been a slave for a crime he did not even know existed. As Voltaire puts it, the Baron, a chaplain, was found bathing in the company of a young Mussulman and was enslaved in the gullies (80). The Baron’s situation epitomizes the religious and political hypocrisy of the time, considering that the baron suffered a hundred blows to his feet as an additional punishment for the crime of bathing with a non-Christian (ibid). The European men during the enlightenment period were of the idea that a chaste woman was the only woman deserving of marriage. However, hypocritically, these are the same men who went around abusing, raping and asking for sexual favors from the very women they expected to remain chaste. For example, while talking about her misfortunes to the old woman, Cunegonde tells of how she had two Bulgarians ravish her. According to Voltaire Cunegonde and her family were ambushed by Bulgarians, who killed her parents, and one of them raped her amidst all her cries and struggles (17).