Social Problems or Customs Essay

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¶ … social problems or customs from the period and choose a piece of literature that reflects those problems or comments on them and explain how the piece you've chosen reflects the social values or customs.

One of the most challenging social problems of the 18th century was the question of what was the appropriate role of religion in society. Voltaire's Candide mercilessly satirizes the corruption of the Church and pious people in general, as when the heroine Cunegonde is simultaneously the mistress of both a Jewish man and a member of the clergy. The optimistic philosophy that this world was the best of all possible worlds (because it was created by God) is satirized in the persona of Pangloss, who meets horror after horror, and must desperately rationalize away the plain evidence of evil in the world.

Another concern was the role of the subjects in relation to the sovereign. Despots, religious and political, throughout Candide are shown to be evil. The only clear-sighted characters are individuals such as the cynic Martin, who takes a dim view of both authority and the prospects for happiness in the world. The only truly happy people are the residents of El Dorado, because they are not dominated by a power-hungry sovereign, and because their political system has no use for money.

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A final concern of Voltaire was that of the role of women. While Voltaire supported women's rights, he also took a dim view of depicting women as more frail and moral than men. Cunegonde is willing to sacrifice her virtue to survive, even though Candide persists in seeing her as a traditionally 'wronged' heroine until the very end of the tale. Only after she has lost her beauty does Candide see her clearly.

Q2. The purposes of satire

Essay on Social Problems or Customs From the Period Assignment

Three common purposes of satire are: 1. To morally reform people through social criticism; 2. To enact political change; 3. To make people laugh at their own follies. One common technique used in satire is hyperbole, particularly in political satires.… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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