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Logic as Opposed to Emotion in Candide and Modest Proposal

Natasha Cribbs

Dr. Sunni Thibodeau

World Literature Since 1650

25 September, 2013

Logic as Opposed to Emotion in Candide and Modest Proposal

            Logic and emotion are not how many readers would suspect it to be in the stories of Candide and Modest Proposal. Both stories take a different approach to life due to the opinions of the writers themselves. Logic is a little awry but is used rather than emotion. This can be seen in the irony and the harsh happenings in the stories.

The first aspect of Modest Proposal that readers notice is the discussion of the eating of children. It is a difficult concept for people to grasp, but it does indeed become easier when they realize that the story is not suppose to be taken seriously. If Modest Proposal was a proposal to be taken seriously, then yes, emotion would tie in heavily. Eating children is very irregular and not an easy topic to stomach. Swift did seem to want some kind of rise out of his readers, but it was less about emotion and more about a need to make a change. Using such a method was an interesting choice. He wanted to show the readers that there was a problem at hand, he just used a dark example of how to fix it. He used a logical, yet not serious proposition to the problems.

The harsh reality of the situation of Modest Proposal is shown ironically in the story. Obviously the eating of children was one phase of the irony. It was the top part of the irony. The Irish and Catholics were treated badly during that time. The politicians and the rich had much better lives while many were going through the famine and poverty. Thus Swift came in a created his piece of satire to convey his opinion, more or less, on the subject.

Candide is another piece that does not use emotion over logic. Voltaire has some very strict opinions that is expressed in his story. The top opinion of Voltaire’s that is shown is his dislike of the Panglossian philosophy. The part that he does not like is the optimism which is heavily used in the characterization. Voltaire is someone who believes that people are pretty much built around their life experiences and dislikes the philosophy that he portrays over exaggeratedly in the tale.

Voltaire uses the over exaggerated characterizations as an ironic stand point. Taking Pangloss as an example, he is always optimistic. Even though he is always optimistic, that does not meant that good things happen to him. On the contrary, many bad things happen to him that someone would think would dampen his spirits. Not only does Pangloss get syphilis, but he also gets hanged among other bad happenings. So many bad and harsh things happen in the story of Candide that should have it taken in an emotional way. That is not the way the story goes, however. Candide is taken into a much more philosophical, or logical, light about how people behave and how life goes.

Candide is a story that uses more logic as opposed to emotion, as well as Modest Proposal. Both are tales that can come off to a reader as a little harsh or ill. When reading into them, though, one can get a better understanding. Both use a large dose of irony to express matters and opinions of the time and the writers. The irony and the darkness are two aspects that add to the use of logic, even if it is a little weird for some readers tastes.


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