The targets of Voltaire

The targets of Voltaire -...

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The targets of Voltaire's satire are many and varied. First in importance, to be sure, is philosophical  optimism; others include religion, kings and the State, war, avarice, social pride, and folly of one kind  or another. In the moral order, dishonesty, sham, prostitution, and all the grave and petty  inhumanities of man against man are assailed, just as in the natural order disease, cataclysms, and  malformations are. For his purpose Voltaire depended especially upon exaggeration, but he also  used the contrasting device of understatement, often in the form of litotes, which is understatement  whereby something is affirmed by stating the negative of its opposite — a common device in ironic  expression. Related to it is euphemism, a figure of speech in which an indirect statement is  substituted for a direct one. Euphemistic terms have been used by many writers to avoid bluntness  or offense, but they reveal a tendency to be insincere and sentimental. Voltaire used them ironically  with fine comic effect to advance his satire of injustice, crime, and folly. Caricature and parody, ways  in which the author exaggerated details of one sort or another for the same purpose, also must be 
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This note was uploaded on 12/05/2011 for the course ENGLISH 101 taught by Professor Staff during the Fall '11 term at Texas State.

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The targets of Voltaire -...

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