Sexism in Candide, a Book by Voltaire

The book Candide, I believe that Voltaire is critiquing and satirizing sexism. Voltaire uses reducto-absurdum and exaggerations to talk about sexism. Voltaire mentions that women are being raped a variety of times all over the book. Voltaire is trying to get people’s attention about the problem of women being raped. He mentions it so many times that it is not really offending; it is too common that it is not offensive. In Candide, the characters talk about rape and sex like it is no big deal. If Voltaire was capitalizing and reinforcing sexism, the people wouldn’t be talking about rape with such simplicity and familiarity.

Rape would be more of a touchy subject and people wouldn’t be telling everyone they meet that they got raped. Some of Voltaire’s writing about sexism may be offensive but it is getting the attention of the people. Sometimes to make a point, it will offend a particular group, idea, or a whole society. Voltaire is trying to make a point that rape is a problem by making fun and offending that particular group or situation. Voltaire is trying to make a point that rape is so common that it is a problem. It may seem offensive but Voltaire is just trying to make it funny or even offensive to make people notice the problem even more. I believe Voltaire is critiquing and satirizing sexism.

There is a quote on page 40 that is mentioned by the old woman when she tells her story the Candide and Lady Cunegonde. The quote is “I was exquisitely lovely; I was beauty and grace personified, and I was a virgin. Not for long, though: the flower that had been reserved for the handsome Prince of Massa-Carrara was ravished from me by the pirate captain, a horrible negro who thought he was doing me a great honor. The Princess of Palestrina and I certainly needed all our strength to withstand everything we underwent before we reached Morocco. But I won’t dwell on that; such things are so common that they’re not worth talking about.” This quote tells us that rape and sex was really common and terrible. The women who were raped talked about it so easily like it was no big deal.

The old woman went through terrible tragedies like losing her precious gift by a pirate captain but still talked about her miseries and rape as if it were nothing. The old woman even says that such things are so common that there is no point to talk about it. Different women with such simplicity, easiness, and familiarity talk about the topic of rape all over the book. Rape is such a serious and terrible subject but yet it so common, that it is easy to talk about. Perhaps, Voltaire writes about rape so much is that he wanted the people of his time to realize that rape was so common that it is a problem that needs to be fixed, solved, and changed. Voltaire is against rape and wants the people of his society, and country to realize that rape is a problem so he writes the book Candide for people to read about the problems in the book that are based off of Europe in the 1700s. Voltaire is critiquing and satirizing sexism in the book Candide.

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