Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Humor of Innocence

Let me be honest: I read a few of these chapters at least three times before I was able to smirk at Candide. It was difficult to see humor through the vivid descriptions of rape and the fatal shipwreck in the tempest. It is only natural to empathize with the pain emitted from these stories before observing other meaningful aspects. However, if you can get past the vulgarity, anguish and death in each chapter, you may find yourself surprised by the satirical humor.
As sick as it may sound, the first time I was able to laugh without provocation was in Chapter VIII, "The History of Cunegonde." Yes, the rape story. It was not the story that I found humorous, but Candide's response and interaction in the story. As Cunegonde is first describing the attack by the Bulgarian, the mentions that "the brute gave me a cut in the left side with his hanger, and the mark is still upon me." Candide, surprisingly to me, responds, "Ah! I hope I shall see it." At that response, I finally cracked up. Seriously, Candide? I found humor in the inappropriateness, the honesty, and the complete lack of concern that floods from this comment. Throughout the rest of the book, it was Candide's honest and innocent responses to horrific situations that created humor and, no matter how hard I had to work for it, laughter.

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