Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Voltaire's Sense of Humor

The use of irony and ironic situation in Voltaire’s Candide serve many purposes. As discussed today in class, they serve to both add an element of humor to the story, as well as to lampoon the society and cultural norms of the 17th and 18th centuries. However, an element that was not thoroughly discussed was, what Voltaire’s motives could have been in using irony to communicate his ideas, criticisms, and philosophies. As Aaron motioned today, this could have been motivated by fear of potential repercussions from the aristocracy or religious leaders who dominated society in Voltaire’s day. Perhaps this assumption is correct. However, would someone as outspoken as Voltaire really feel the need to temper his protests with humor? Perhaps, the irony found in Candide was, rather, more motivated by Voltaire’s own unique sense of humor than his sense of self preservation and fear.

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