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Samantha Morse

Samantha Morse on Chapter 9:

Nicole, I definitely agree with your analysis of Don Issachar’s character, for ultimately this question portrays him as insecure, insensitive, and crude. Additionally, this character development subliminally adds an anti-Semitic element to the text. Though religion is oftentimes mocked (for example, in chapter III the couple that believes the Pope is the Antichrist comes off as fanatic and cruel, while the Anabaptist is the compassionate benefactor), the Jew is the only religious figure set up as iniquitous, while all others are merely foolish or corrupt. According to University of Leicester’s Nigel Aston in Christianity and revolutionary Europe, 1750-1830, Voltaire’s anti-Semitic stance was in keeping with the times where, “Enlightenment thinkers did little to dilute popular resentments [towards Jews], seeing Hebraism as a conservative, marginal, and backward-looking culture which resisted integration”.

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Samantha Morse on Chapter 4:

Just as the beginning of the previous chapter humorously condemns meaningless warfare, so this paragraph underhandedly mocks the “heroes” of these wars. Though Voltaire calls the soldiers of great armies “honest well-disciplined hirelings” he goes on to hyperbolize that 40,000/60,000 of these sublime fighters will be afflicted by syphilis at any one battle. Pairing this with Pangloss’s comical account of the scandalous history of contracting syphilis in the previous paragraph, Voltaire’s verbal irony in describing the soldiers’ honest discipline becomes evident.

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Samantha Morse on Chapter 3:

Chris, I think what you’re trying to describe is how the brevity of Volatire’s dry satire makes his description of violence “preferable”. Had Voltaire spent 20 pages, rather than a paragraph, describing the bayonet’s sufficient reason for death and the “heroic carnage” of it all, then we would probably deem him a sociopath. Rather, by condensing this description into one paragraph ridden with litotes and melosis, Voltaire’s message is not only humorous but a profound condemnation of meaningless violence.

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