How does Candide tie into the culture, economics, and politics of pre-revolutionary France?

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The events that drive the plot of Voltaire’s Candide are heavily satirical critiques of pre-revolutionary France. Another key consideration is how Candide himself is characterized and how his supposed noble character is pitted against a strictly hierarchical culture.  

At the beginning, Candide is described as “a youth endowed by nature with the gentlest of characters” (Voltaire, 17). Outside of his control, however, is his perceived status—while he begins this story by living in a wealthy baron’s castle, he is marked as “other” by the nobility he lives with, as Voltaire relates that suspicions existed that Candide “was the son of the baron’s sister by a good and honorable gentleman of the vicinity, whom this lady would never marry because he could prove only seventy-one generations of nobility” (Voltaire, 17). This immediate coupling of Candide’s personality with his (lack of) social status is telling in itself of the culture of pre-revolutionary France—and it is...

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