Voltaire attacked the church, the state, philosophy and the governing class. He spent most of his life dodging punishment for his satirical tongue. Voltaire wrote against religious persecution, criticized the powerful individuals and condemned their institutions. Voltaire uses mockery in his book Candide to express his bitterness towards nobility, philosophy, the church, and inhumane cruelty.
Throughout the book we come across a lot of characters. One in which is a baron named Thunder-ten-tronckn. An awful name to begin with, but this is Voltaire s way of mocking pretensions nobility. He is not an especially rich baron, but a baron non the less, who wastes most of his time living off the labor of others. The only justification for his position as baron, is merely through birth. He is not noble in any sense of the words meaning.
But it is the aristocratic belief that greatness stays within the family. The baron s sister, for example, wouldn t marry Candide s father because he did not have enough quarterings on his coat of arms. Voltaire is trying to imply that there is no difference between the common people and the nobles. Ranking does not make you a better person. Candide spends his childhood in a castle with a gentleman named Pangloss. Pangloss is a philosopher that believes this is the best of all possible worlds and that everything is for the best.
The name of his school is called metaphysic o-theology-cosmolonigology. Voltaire criticizes this school because if the world is so great and everything is for the best, why then are people suffering. The other big joke towards Pangloss philosophical views is that Pangloss lives in a confined castle. He tries to talk about the world around him, but knows little of it. When Candide leaves the castles he is thrown into the army. Candide goe from believe Pangloss s philosophy to seeing the world full of evil.
This is his first hands-on experience of the world. He sees how the powerful nobles start wars and it is the soldiers on the field fighting the battles. He sees that people are suffering from war and poverty and the churches do nothing to help their people. Voltaire s use of mockery is very intense. Some may be on the exaggerated side, but all and all it is to be believed.
Today we see more and more cases of priests robbing from the churches or molesting young child. When we read about the Franciscan who steals Cunegund s jewelry, it isn t far fetched. There are both good and evil in this world. Coming from nobility or joining the priesthood, doesn t categorize you as a good person. Only through ones actions can determine the good of the individual.
Again and again Candide suggests that thought alone does not change social conditions. And it doesn t.