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Social and Political issues in Moliere’s “Tartuffe” and Voltaire’s “Candide” Research Paper

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Updated: Sep 27th, 2019


Voltaire’s novel Candide is a satirical narrative, which makes fun of how people thought and reasoned out in the medieval times. Its major character; Candide, strategically and successfully illustrates the events as they unfolded in the then society as well as the situation in the contemporary civilization. The author uses him to highlight the misfortunes that people in the society undergo (Webster IV).

Voltaire manages to bring out the societal norms in a humorous way. The story is set in Westphalia and the author uses Candide to develop the plot of his entire story explaining how people generally encounter different hurdles in life. On the other hand, Moliere’s book Tartuffe is one of the best and well-remembered comic books written in 1964.

The book suffered a partial banning for five years but it resurfaced in the literary world in 1969. The ban resulted from the strong message that the author brought out concerning religious hypocrisy in the French society. Moliere released this chef-d’oeuvre at a time when there was a rift between the parliament as well as the Catholic society, which viewed all human instincts as evil.

Therefore, the book passes for a well-organized composition with themes aiming to bring sanity in the society through exposure of human flaws and some deviations from the norms of the society by some members.

Therefore, the goal of the authors of these two books is to highlight the social and political issues that the society goes through day-by-day. Social issues, like sufferings and hypocrisy among other social thorns stand out clearly in Voltaire’s work.

Social issues in Voltaire’s Candide

Candide is a story set from a social perspectives as pointed out by the themes and the plot of the story, which remain hinged on the day-to-day interactions and relationships of people. The author brings out the conventional social life amongst people; how life sometimes may be difficult.

For instance, Candide and his colleague Cunegonde are kicked out of the castle where they are studying experimental science after being caught kissing; what a way of punishment for a socially accepted and necessary act. Candide suffers from hunger and cold due to lack of shelter; he further faces seemingly insurmountable hurdles to enter in the Bulgarian army.

After his admission, the sufferings he meets forces him to try to escape; unfortunately, people finds out his plans and punishes him severely. However, he manages to escape during the confusion brought about by the war. After his escape, he again meets other friends who contribute much towards making his life difficult and unbearable.

The issues of relationship and social life and interaction surface when Candice meets with a woman by the name Cunegonde who takes care of him (Voltaire 139). This relationship culminates into charming association characterized by humor and intense travelling across the region. The two ultimately become lovebirds before getting married after which they decide to embark on farming.

When it comes to religion, Voltaire is opposed to the issue of hypocrisy especially when clergy become the perpetrators of this vice. The author therefore advocates for a society that will embrace freethinking as well as scientific reasoning; he believes in the presence and the existence of God though not in tandem with the way the clergy behave in leading their folks.

The level of pretence is widely witnessed in the larger Europe; therefore, this masterpiece is calling for change of the way the clergy executes their duties if not how they lead their lives. Political issues like too much respect for political people for instance are also highlighted in Voltaire’s masterwork.

Political issues in Voltaire’s Candide

The author brings out the issue of politics and leadership in this satirical book. He brings out the theme of leadership and authority by highlighting existence of castles and use of titles like ‘lord’. For instance, Baron is one of the most powerful lords of the time as he has everything around him; running from security to luxuries of any nature that a leader or a political person enjoys.

His castle has great walls, windows and gates manned by several dogs, which provide security coupled with grooms who act as his huntsmen (Hogan, and Molin 305). He commands some authority following the way people refer to him with titles like ‘My lord’. The servants or subjects have to laugh to every story that he tells as the old adage goes, ‘a rich man’s joke is always funny.’ This picture reflects the current political scenario.

Social issues in Tartuffe

In social circles, Moliere’s Tartuffe gives more attention to the religious and the hypocrisy issues pertinent in the society. The author uses Tartuffe as his key character to bring out the apparent religious hypocrisy whereby Tartuffe comes out as a conman.

The clergymen use their positions and authority to institute evil deals for their benefits. Another aspect of social issues is the seemingly intertwining of family relationships as it stands out throughout the book where the author employs family to bring out this critical theme. Values in the society have been violated, and regrettably this violation comes from the religious groups.

The author uses Orgon, the family head to bring out the negative part of Tartuffe; the clergy who underscores the theme of intertwining family relationships. Love and marriage too hold a good share as among the social issues brought out in the book.

For instance, the marriage which is supposed to take place between Tartuffe and Mariane, the daughter of Orgon, does not take place after Dorine manages to convince Mariane not to follow his father’s wishes of marrying Tartuffe.

The society is full of hypocrites and therefore the author uses this masterpiece to educate the society about being wary of people who the esteem since in most cases, the same people turn to be hypocrites.

People ought to harbor caution not to fall into the traps of these ‘wolfs’ in sheep’s clothing. The clergy whom people accord respect owing to his moral and religious standing, fools Orgon, an old family man because of the faith he has in God.

Political issues in Tartuffe

Although Moliere does not tackle political issues in his work directly, he clearly illustrates the reality of how people in power employ dirty tricks to retain their leadership positions. Unfortunately, leaders employ all tactics in order to trap the people who they govern as a way of their continued stay in leadership (Frame VII). Leaders apparently trade lies to their subjects who unwittingly follow to whatever they hear.

The author, by exploring Tartuffe’s expositions, presents the clear reality equated to how politicians play their cards. On the surface, leaders say or do things that appear to be for the common god of all; however, by taking a closer look one cannot fail to see the conspicuous hidden agenda in whatever politicians do; they think of themselves and themselves alone.

There is also a pertinent struggle of power running deep in the society; for instance, Tartuffe is a man of God determined to continue wielding authority thinking that what he does is the correct thing and worth emulating. This scenario stands out in the wrangles and the cases of frauds witnessed in the case surrounding his supposedly marriage to Mariane.


The work of the two authors is worth in both content and ideas. The authors have successfully used it to instill a new dimension and approach to the daily social and political life. The society is in captivity of few individuals who think that they have the right to manipulate it. Therefore, the authors have provided different perspectives in the social realities by highlight some elements that are against societal reforms by exposing them.

For instance, in the book ‘Tartuffe’, Moliere, brings out the hypocrisy of the clergy whose behaviors are directly opposite to what the society expects of him (Tasha Para.3).

Political issues assume a good share in these works especially in the work of Voltaire whereby, the society bears strata of different social classes with the most respected class enjoying more by living in good houses receiving unnecessary security and any other thing presumed to make their lives better.

Therefore, the authors have successfully expounded on the issues of politics and society with the sole purpose of awakening people to stop assuming things because apparently majority do not know the truth of what happens in society especially around power circles.

Works Cited

Frame, Donald. Introduction, in Tartuffe, and Other Plays by Moliere. Penguin: Signet Classic, 1967.

Hogan, Robert, and Molin, Sven.”Preface to Voltaire.” Drama: The Major Genres, an Introductory Critical Anthology 21.2 (1962): 303–07.

Tasha, Kelley. Naivety and Hypocrisy in Moliere’s Tartuffe, 2010. Web.

Voltaire. Candide. Ed. Francois-Marie Arouet. New York: Fine Creative Media, 1991.

Webster, Margaret. Introduction in Moliere. New York: Coward-McCann, 1950.

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