In Voltaire’s Bildungsroman (a novel in which the character’s experiences lead to a new philosophy), Candide, written in 1759, he satirizes the paradigm that this is the best of all possible worlds. Voltaire does not agree with this paradigm and he goes on to satirize naive stoical optimism and religion. Throughout his life, Voltaire did not agree with religion or the government. In fact, he was sent to prison in Bastille for writing a satire about the French government. By using verbal and situational irony, as well as overstatement, Voltaire successfully satirizes religion, social customs, and snobbery.

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In the first paragraph of chapter 15, the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh explains how he managed to survive the attack by the Bulgars. After Cunegonde gets raped and his parents are killed, he is saved by a Jesuit. The Reverend Father Croust gives the baron the care that he needs to survive. Then the baron goes on to tell Candide about how he was “very handsome” and that the Reverend “took a great liking” to him, thus implying a homosexual relationship between himself and the Reverend Father Croust (56).

Voltaire is satirizing religion and the hypocrisy of clergymen by using situational irony. This is an example of situational irony because being a priest while also having a gay relationship goes against what the bible says is right. It has been said that Voltaire actually knew a French priest by the name of Croust who was actually a homosexual. After Candide and the baron have caught up, Candide tells him that he intends to marry the fair Cunegonde, who is not far from where the two men are.

When the baron hears this he is immediately outraged by the mere thought of it shouting at Candide, “How impudent of you even to think of marrying my sister, who has seventy-two generations of nobility behind her! You ought to be ashamed of yourself for daring to mention such an audacious scheme to me! ” the baron drags in Candide’s mere seventy-one generations of nobility to prove that he is unfit to marry Cunegonde, even though he knows the two of them are in love (56). Voltaire is satirizing snobbery and social customs by using verbal irony.

This is an example of verbal irony because, just moments before, the baron was so happy to see Candide and he was so grateful to him for saving his sister from the grand Inquisitor and Issachar. In the heat of their argument, the Baron Thunder-ten-tronckh pulls out his sword and strikes Candide’s cheek with the flat of it, then, Candide pulls out his sword and stabs the baron in the belly. As soon as he draws the sword out of his friend’s stomach, Candide begins to weep; this behavior is ironic because one would not expect a man to weep after killing someone.

Voltaire employs hypocrisy when Candide exclaims, “I’m the kindest man in the world, yet I’ve already killed three men, and two of them were priests! ” (57). Voltaire portrays Candide to feel guilty for killing two holy men, while he himself would not feel guilty because of his dislike for religion. Candide saying this is an understatement because no one expects a kind man to kill three men, especially if two of them are priests. Voltaire uses verbal irony to satirize religion because the two statements are contradictory.

In Voltaire’s satirical coming of age novel, Candide, he pokes fun at religion, snobbery, government, and the military among other things. Voltaire accomplished this satire by using verbal, situational, and dramatic irony along with overstatement and understatement. In this novel, Voltaire writes of the paradigm that this is the best of all possible worlds when Pangloss states that “those who have maintained that all is well have been talking nonsense: they should have maintained that all is for the best. ” (18). Have you been talking nonsense?

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