Satire In Eighteenth Century Essay, Research Paper
The eighteenth century is often called an age of reason, propriety, and enlightenment; but it was also an age of squalor, filth, disease, crime, prostitution, violence, and insanity and these less attractive (but perhaps more interesting) elements are favorites of the eighteenth century writers. Satire was an important form of expression throughout the enlightenment period. Throughout this paper, the writer will give examples of satire used by the writers. Some of the poetry that will be exemplified are: “Candide” written by Marie De Voltaire, “Gulliver s Travel s written by: Jonathan Swift, and “Oroonoko” written by: Aphra Behn.
“Candide” on the surface is a witty, galactic story. However when inspected deeper it is a writing against people of an uneducated status. Candid is an archetype of these idiocracies, for he lacks reason and has optimism that is truly irking, believing that this is the best of all possible Worlds. Thus, Voltaire uses a witty, bantering tale on the surface, but in depth a cruel bombast against the ignorance of his times.
Candide has reason only in the form of a companion which he relies for advice. His companion is of course Dr. Pangloss. He consistently dribbles to Dr. Pangloss about what should be done. At last to the happiness of readers Pangloss is killed by being hanged. But this means that Candide s reason is also dead! No problem, he just goes and finds a new companion, “Lacking him (Pangloss), let s consult the old women”. He soon loses her, gains another, loses him, and then gains another. Thus we see that Candide can only think if he has a companion. Voltaire is thus saying that all the nobles are really idiots and says
they are only smart because they have philosophers. This is typically Enlightenment, because nobles, are stupid and must have philosophers to make them Enlightened.
Candide is consistently being brainwashed by reason (Pangloss) saying that we love in “the best of times” yet it quite obviously is not “the best of times”. For how can there be, in the best of all Worlds, war, slavery, and many more abominations? Half-way through the book it would appear that Candide has given up his optimism when he looked at the Negro slave. “Oh Pangloss.. I ll have to give up your optimism at once”. But to the distress of the readers he has not given up his optimism. “Since I found you, I m sure I can find Cunegnde again”. This we see that he has quickly recovered his optimism. Voltaire is using Candide s blatant optimism to relate to the people of his time that also have the same type of optimism.
He also talks about the philosophy that states all actions are a part of an illustrious, benevolent plan. It is Pangloss who says “it is impossible for things to be where they are”. For all is well”. What Pangloss is saying that a thing greater then man (God) has everything laid out, and everything is for the best. It is here that Voltaire s attack on Christianity begins. He bombast s them for believing that all the World is a stage, and that God has written the script. This idea of predestination is the antithesis of the Enlightenment Period, and thus it is only natural that Voltaire, a typical Enlightenment writer, harangue these notions by means of a person who believes in this until his death – Candide.
Finally we see that Voltaire is writing a typical Enlightenment work because Candide is a jeremiad against those people that are lacking enlightenment knowledge, by this of course, lacking the epitomes of the period: reason, senses and self-interest. Thus, Voltaire is using a charming story to attack the people of his time who are against or are not enlightened. One reason that Candide is typically enlightenment is because it makes fun of the reader who thinks that it is merely a comical story of a man and a quest for his lover.
Jonathan Swift wrote “Gulliver s Travels” in 1762 with the intent of entertaining many individuals. Entertainment through satire is what Swift had in mind. This was accomplished when Bantam Books first published his tales in 1962. It was again published by Bantam Books in 1981 in New York, New York.
To fully understand “Gulliver s Travels” one must first reflect upon the following: the plot, character, setting, theme, point of view, conflict, climax, resolution, symbolism, and figurative language. These ideas will help the reader comprehend some of the ideas portrayed throughout the novel, as well as why Swift wrote them. The setting plays an important role in all novels, one must take into consideration that the four different parts of the book have different settings. The first setting is more or less on an Island called Lilliput, on 5. November. 1699. Gulliver ended up on this island due to a ship wreck. The setting to the second part of the novel happens to be on his arrival to another Island that Gulliver wishes to inspect for water. This was on 16. June. 1703. The third part of the
book has many different little scenes. The first takes place on Laputa, an Island of deformed creatures. The fourth and final part of the book takes place in the Country of Houyhnhnms.
The main character, Gulliver is a well educated sailor. He has been recommended to be a sailor. Traveling around the World, exploring new places, Gulliver meets many new cultures and civilizations. Gulliver wears clothes not uncommon to the 1700 s. He has long hair, that sometimes restricts him from turning his head. Gulliver is a round character. This can be seen where he refers to past experiences during an adventure. This means that he can compare the two situations, this learning from it. There are many minor characters. Easier referred to by the names of their people. Them being: the small Lilliputians, the giant Brobdingnags, the creatures at Lugnagg and Balnibarbi, with the Islands of Laputa and Blubdrubdrib. Finally, the Yahoos and Houyhnhnms. Gulliver s stories are told in the first person by himself.
Some very important symbols are used throughout the novel to depict some very important ideas. One of these symbols would be when Gulliver relieves himself on the Lilliputians royal castle to put out a fire. It seems, as though how silly something may seem, it just might be an answer to a very important problem. A second symbol clearly seen is the relationship to the Yahoos and the Houyhnhnms. This is easily perceived as a representation of the relationship to horses and humans. The superiority of the horses in the novel shows how, although different, they may just be as smart, if not smarter than the owner.
Some very important themes that the reader may have picked up on can be very helpful. One of these themes is that no matter how small something is, it is not inferior. Gulliver stayed with the Lilliputians for a very long time. The fact that they were only six inches tall did not mean that he could do anything that he wanted around or to them. Another theme that the reader should have got is that no matter how large something is, it still has to have a small amount of brains. The giants in the second part were very tall, but nowhere did the book say that they were very smart.
There are many different conflicts throughout the novel as well. Some of these being internal, others being external. One of the internal conflicts can be seen when Gulliver is tied down by the Lilliputians. Gulliver has a chance to snatch up many of the little creatures, but knows that they will most likely shoot him with needle-like arrows. An external conflict is between Gulliver s crew against nature. Many times Gulliver gets blown off course by a storm or has his boat overturned by waves. This is an example of human against nature.
Some of the literary devices that Swift uses in “Gulliver s Travels are satire and irony. Swift wrote the novel as a parody of travel books and an indictment of mankind; it is revered as a charming children s story. The ironies Swift intended to be recognized the small mindedness of the tiny Lilliputians, the physical and moral abnormality of the giant Brobdingnagians, and the perfect animalizing of the filthy manlike Yahoos (far inferior to the placid horses they work for) – are often ignored or dismissed.
After considering all of this, the reader should have a better understanding of the novel. Being able to pay a greater attention to the details of a novel always helps one understand the greater, more broad ideas following them. Jonathan Swift was a magnificent author. Without his “Gulliver s Travels” there would be a great gap in the art of Literature.
Aphra Behn, the first professional Woman writer in England, lived from 1640 to 1689. After John Dryden, she was the most prolific dramatist of the Restoration. But, it is for her pioneering work in prose narrative that she achieved her place in literary history.
The notion of slavery in Behn s “Oroonoko” is a complex one. In order to grasp this work, one might assume that the reader must put it into context with its historical perspective. Does Behn accept slavery? It can be conceived that she does. Behn s physical description of Oroonoko is interesting. He was aesthetically pleasing to both white and dark people. He was also formally educated and was “wordily”. Oroonoko himself justified the slave trafficking that took place during that time. Is Behn s novel a early protest against the slave trade? Again one might assume that it is because of the brutality of Oroonoko s treatment in the end. One can see that it isn t due to the torture methods being used were standard throughout that period of history. Are we upset because a black man died? Or are we upset because a black man that fits the mold of a white man died? If Oroonoko had been less educated and less handsome, would anyone have cared? It definitely gives the reader something to think about. In the beginning of Oroonoko the people are described as “beauties which..are finely shaped.” They have “pretty features,
are very charming (and) of the first state of innocence”. However their skin color is different and the trinkets they use to trade with are used as adornments. “Except the color, which is reddish yellow; or after oiling, ..they are of the color of a new brick, but smooth, soft, and sleep”. “We dealt with em with beads of all colors, knives, axes, pins, and needles, which they used only as tools to drill holes in their ears, nose, and lips, where they hang a great many little things, as long beads, bits of tin, brass ” At times they would take the beads and weave them into aprons on long cotton threads to make girdles. They would use the long cotton threads full of beads, “which come twenty times or more about the waist, and then cross both ways, and around their necks, arms, and legs with their long black hair makes em a wonderful figure to behold.” They live without clothes and no one notices. “they are all thus naked there is not to be seen an indecent action or glance.”
The description of Oroonoko himself shows characters of Christianity versus the pagan trait s described above. He is very graceful, educated in several languages, and he loved people. “so much humanity.. of wit and learning .to teach him morals, language, and science.. he loved.” He was a man of bravery, courage, and solid judgment. “the..courts could not have produced a braver man, both for greatness of courage and mind, a judgment more solid.” His physical appearance “He was pretty tall His face was not of that brown, rusty black but of perfect ebony or polished jet.” There is a great detailed description of Oroonoko s face and it s features. “His eyes were the most awful.. and very piercing.. His nose was rising and Roman, instead of African and flat .”
He had a great mind and could speak on almost any subject. “his discourse was admirable upon almost any subject; was as capable of reigning well.” Oroonoko attributes from his physical presence to his mind are very Godlike. He is perfection personified. No can find fault in him except that he was enslaved and had dark skin.
From Swift s Gulliver s Travels where Gulliver traveled extensively throughout many lands and Islands and was of a great abhorrence when it finally comes to his attention that it does not matter how small something is, it is not inferior. To Oroonoko where the reader might assume how judge mental and prejudice an individual might be just by the fact of one s skin power. Throughout these stories, the reader sees a great deal of parody and satire involved, without it one might not call it “The Enlightenment Age”. As one reflects throughout this essay, one might assume that during the “Enlightenment Age” or the “Age of Reason people” came to believe that the human intellect could discover natural laws that would solve social, political, and economic powers. One might assume based upon the evidence that the writer has presented that the Enlightenment Age was a age of intellect over feeling.