Candide, The Divine Comedy, Tartuffe, Othello

Voltaire's Candide can be easily considered one of the most potent satires of all times, as it is directed not to a particular aspect of the world but to the world as a whole and to the entire human race. What Voltaire mocks is not so much the state in which the world and humanity are in, but the inveterate optimism that characterized the Age of Reason. The values and creeds of the Enlightenment philosophers are demolished one by one in Voltaire's work: the famous statement maintained by Leibniz and Rousseau that our world is "the best of all possible worlds", the belief that the universe is in a state of unshakable harmony that only gives the impression of chaos, the general optimism that regarded even the dreariest events in the world as good, the faith in the human reason and the free will of man and so on. To remonstrate against what he felt was just hypocritical optimism, Voltaire makes the eponymous character of his work, Candide (who is, not by accident and as his name indicates, incredibly naive and simple) experience, through his journeys and adventures, the entire range of human sufferance: wars, natural disasters, maladies, slavery, religious persecution, rape and so on. In his way, Candide experiences all there is to experience and meets with all the evil in the world. His companions represent three different philosophical attitudes that influence Candide's evolution. His gullible nature disposes him to believe the more comfortable theory, which is that of his master Pangloss. Pangloss is thus the prototype of the Enlightenment thinker, the professed optimist who believes in the absolute perfection of the world. Despite of the disasters he meets with and despite of the evil nature of the men he encounters, Pangloss remains a stubborn optimist, an advocate of the perfect harmony of the universe: "Master Pangloss taught the metaphysico-theologo-cosmolo-nigology. He could prove to admiration that …


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