Women In Voltaire’s candide & Moliere’s tartuffe

Women in Voltaire’s “Candide” & Moliere’s “Tartuffe”

  • Introduction

    Gender inequality and patriarchy are common societal characteristics in human history, problems that were well-established in social best practice rules within the seventeenth plus eighteenth centuries whenever Moliere and Voltaire wrote Tartuffe and Candide, respectively. Inside Tartuffe, Moliere shows the patriarchal structure as well as the subservient character of girls in People from france society during the particular reign of Ruler Louis XIV. The particular author uses the feminine characters Mariane, Dorine, and Elmire in order to critique the method the social constructions of the period viewed women while weak, powerless, slavish creatures. In this mindset, women are supposed to obey whatever they are told without question. If a father decides that a particular man should marry his daughter, she has no authority to question their ruling. Nevertheless , Moliere’s characters also uncover women as logical, intelligent beings, capable to reason individually despite the interpersonal masking that offers subjugated them with regard to a long.

    Similarly, Voltaire utilizes Candide to emphasize how women within the eighteenth century loved limited privileges depending on societal roles during the time. He shows ladies to be mainly sexual objects; still a selection of their names have sexual undertones, and they can be sexually used or mistreated at will. Via the way of minimum development of the feminine characters in the particular works Candide plus Tartuffe, Voltaire plus Moliere stress that will women are noticed because objects and they should be submissive in order to men and are usually powerless in the particular face of the particular hardships that arrive their way.

    Women in Voltaire’s Candide

    Female figures in Candide are used marginally, underscoring the argument that will the role make of women within society were not really pronounced within the author’s time. Voltaire shows three main feminine characters: Cunégonde, Paquette, and the Aged Woman. Initially, these people seem to discuss most of the same features despite coming through different backgrounds. Almost all lack complexity, and their simplicity, these people lead similar life. In addition, Voltaire portrays women because sexual objects that will occupy an underprivileged position, while in the same period, the author appears to glorify widespread misogyny in society. Quite simply, Voltaire paints the horrific picture of girls and their part during the time as talked about within the next section.

    The reader fulfills the very first characterization associated with women within the starting chapters of Voltaire’s novel in Cunégonde and the chambermaid Paquette. These figures appear unimportant; for instance , instead of explaining them in fine detail as he will other characters, the particular writer depicts Cunégonde as “plump, delicious, and extremely beautiful” (Voltaire 3). Likewise, Paquette is offered like a “pretty plus tractable little brunette” (Voltaire, 4). The particular choice of terms to describe these types of characters points in order to a particular see of women plus their role, although subtly. For instance, portraying Cunégonde as “appetizing” implies that she is seen as a sweet and edible morsel awaiting men’s consumption. Interestingly, the name Cunégonde is derived from the Latin word cuneus, translated as “cunt” in English (Press 141). This aspect underscores the significance of Cunégonde’s intercourse appeal in the particular eyes of males. Similarly, Paquette’s exceptional attributes are that will she is fairly and tractable; the writer deliberately overlooks other locations of her personality, underscoring women because submissive to as well as powerless when confronted with challenges.

    As Cunégonde is the particular Baron’s daughter, the girl status and part in society might be likely to become esteemed. Nevertheless , within the second section, she is exposed to be considered a young lady in distress right after she faints whenever Candide is tossed out of the particular Baron’s castle, which usually highlights her because weak. The some other female character will be the Old Lady who remains unidentified, perhaps to emphasize the insignificance of girls. She is launched as “an aged woman” (Voltaire 16), and he or she retains that will title to the particular end from the book. Women appear to perform only one main role—serving as intercourse objects for males for they make sure you. For instance , when the particular Baron’s castle will be attacked, Cunégonde will be assaulted in “many ways” (Voltaire, 25) and certainly physically abused. Similarly, the Woman has already been “raped almost daily” (Voltaire, 29). The priest, whom Paquette trusts, “buses their position in purchase to seduce the girl, knowing that the girl is innocent plus uneducated” (Bates 26). Therefore, it really is obvious that in Candide, women are seen as sex objects in addition to being weak and submissive.

    Women in Moliere’s Tartuffe

    Written in 1664, Tartuffe highlights and criticizes the traditional gender stereotypes propagated by a misogynistic French society in the seventeenth century. Moliere arguably presents women as clever, rational beings. According to Cholakian, men in Tartuffe do not understand the power of women; their perceptions concerning their female counterparts or femininity are “in reality male speculations” (166). The play offers two sets of contrasting female characters. On the one side, Mariane represents a traditional subservient woman whose duty is to take orders from men without question. On the other, Dorine and Elmire represent enlightened women who know their rights and are willing to defy illogical societal norms that have subjugated women throughout the history of humankind.

    Mariane is described as an obedient individual who cannot express a personal opinion. In the audience’s first encounter with Mariane, she is having a private conversation with her father Orgon in Act II, Scene II. Orgon is forcing her to marry a husband of his choice, saying, “Daughter, We mean it; you’re to be their wife” (Moliere second . 2. 12). This particular scene underscores the particular argument that ladies are seen as simple objects that can easily be used because a man delights. In Scene 3, Mariane confirms that will she is helpless to resist the girl father’s word, that is final. Dorine stimulates her to talk for herself: “Well, perhaps you have lost your own tongue, girl? or / Must We play Account, plus say the ranges you ought to say? / / Faced with a fate so grotesque and absurd, or / Can a person not utter 1 dissenting word? ” (2. 3. 1-4). In response, Mariane says, “What great would it perform? A father’s energy is great” (2. 3. 5). Retired with her fate, Mariane has internalized the particular stereotypical role associated with a submissive plus voiceless individual within society because males have propagated plus normalized such lays for too lengthy.

    Women are usually portrayed as items and means associated with acquiring wealth plus power. Orgon desires Mariane to get married to Tartuffe to achieve the certain social standing. He says, “Yes, Tartuffe shall become Allied by relationship to this family, / / And he’s to be your husband, is that clear? / / It’s a father’s privilege” (2. 4. 8). Orgon wants to be associated with Tartuffe because the latter is allegedly associated with nobility. For his part, Tartuffe sees women as sexual objects. This assertion explains why he is seducing Elmire even though he knows that she is married. Additionally , Tartuffe is confident that he will marry Mariane since he has won Orgon’s trust. Therefore, women as shown in Tartuffe are expected to be submissive, voiceless, and weak. They are used as a means to a certain end, such as achieving wealth and social status.


    Women in Candide and Tartuffe are viewed as weak, voiceless, and submissive; they serve as objects for achieving sexual pleasure and attaining material wealth or social status. Mariane in Tartuffe and Paquette in Candide mirror each other based on how they are viewed in society. Paquette is tractable, according to her description. As such, she can be manipulated easily. Similarly, Orgon is manipulative and controlling toward his daughter, Mariane. He has decided that she must marry Tartuffe; thus, his decision should not be questioned. He reminds Dorine that he has the privilege of choosing the man that will marry her daughter. He speaks with a sense of entitlement, highlighting how such a mindset is deep-rooted and normalized within society.

    In addition, women are seen as sexual objects. In Candide, the theme of objectifying women as sex toys stands out conspicuously. Cunégonde is named after the female sexual organ. The fact that parents would give a beloved daughter such a name underscores deeply entrenched antifeminism that objectifies women as sex toys to satisfy men’s fetishes. Additionally, Cunégonde is described as appetizing and plump; such explanations can only can be found for men that have normalized the particular objectification of girls because sex toys. Likewise, Paquette is fairly and tractable, which usually carries sexual undertones and indicates the particular ease with which usually men might be able to get sex from the girl. The same concept is clear within Moliere’s play.

    Tartuffe is the fraud along with a chauvinist who thinks that will the only fortunately can come away of women will be sex. He will not respect women with regard to who they are usually, regardless of their own marital status. This individual seduces Elmire within utter disregard to the fact that she is wedded. In the view, this does not issue that she has a family and a husband. After all, he simply wants to have sex with her before moving to his next target. He disrespects Mariane even though the two are about to get married. Similarly, in Candide, the priest seeks to abuse his position and influence in seducing the defenseless Paquette to quench his sexual thirst. Therefore, Voltaire and Moliere’s works Candide and Tartuffe share common themes of presenting women as voiceless, weak, and easy-to-manipulate sex objects.


    Art and literature have been used to highlight societal problems from ancient times. Voltaire and Moliere employed their skills in literary works to air the problems associated with patriarchy during the seventeenth plus eighteenth centuries. Within the authors’ occasions, women were subjugated, and their sounds were unheard, regardless of how logical or logical. They were not really designed to question the particular decisions their man counterparts made. Within other words, these were to be observed but not to become heard. In addition , these people existed as intercourse objects that may be utilized anytime in a manner to satisfy men’s sexual hunger, regardless of whether through consensual sexual intercourse or rape. Inside Candide, Voltaire provides three female figures, Cunégonde, Paquette, as well as the Old Woman, that are all treated likewise despite their varied origins. Cunégonde as well as the Old Woman are usually raped, underscoring the particular objectification of ladies as sexual equipment. Cunégonde’s name means that “cunt” in interpretation. Additionally , the figures are voiceless, plus thus, they can not talk on their personal.

    Similarly, within Tartuffe, Moliere chemicals exactly the same view associated with women within society. Orgon will be convinced that 1 of his liberties would be to force their daughter into a good arranged marriage. Tartuffe is really a treacherous Libertiner using women in order to satisfy his fetishes without regard with regard to their marital standing. These arguments be enough in conclusion that Voltaire and Moliere, via their works Candide and Tartuffe, respectively, stress the truth that the writers saw women because objects, submissive in order to men, and helpless.

    Works Cited

    Bates, Deborah. The Portrayal of Women in Selected Contents of Voltaire. 1995. McMaster University, Masters’ Dissertation. Web.

    Cholakian, Patricia. “The Itinerary of Desire in Moliere’s ‘Le Tartuffe’. ” Theatre Journal, vol. 38, no. 2, 1986, pp. 164-179.

    Moliere, Jean-Baptiste. Tartuffe, n. d. Web.

    Peress, Maurice. Dvořák to Duke Ellington: A Conductor Explores America’s Music and its African American Roots, Oxford University, 2004.

    Voltaire. Candide, or Optimism. Penguin, 2005.

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