Voltaire…The Magician


The title may sound weird, but Voltaire was magical in his words, in his speech and the thought he conveyed through his writings. He was one of the iconic figures of the European enlightenment who made his followers think rather than blindly following a set of thoughts. His writings and speech inspired millions of people who participated in the American and the French Revolution.

He was a social reformer for he always aimed for a new beginning to usher in the then France which would destroy years of anarchy and misrule. For this reason, he is acknowledged along with Hobbes, Locke, Rousseau and Montesquieu who belonged to the Enlightenment period.

Early Life:

He was born as Francois Mario-Arouet in France in 1694. He received education in Collège Louis-le-Grand by the Jesuits in France. From here, the writer in him slowly evolved. He then went to Paris on the order of his father to pursue a career in law. But it was during this stay in Paris that he had a new beginning. It was here he began penning down his writings and criticised the religious and the social dogmas.

Voltaire- The Magical Man of Words

He was a man of letter who always paved the way for social reform through his writings. His writings soon made him the cynosure of the French aristocracy, although he had to face the wrath of the French authority. He debuted as a playwright with “Oedipe” (Oedipus) which won him fame and reputation.

He was majorly satirical in his approach to writing and became a major cause of concern for the clergy and noble during his time. He said that there is no reason to go by the words of Bible since it is not something divine and sacred, but a simple creation of the human. This was the result he earned the wrath of the Catholic Church.

If you read Candide by Voltaire, you will get a taste of his satirical ways. Here he criticised the politicians of that era, pointing out their misrule. He said that a pure and uncorrupted rule stated by ancient German philosophy was a vague concept. Naturally he became a sore to the eye of the French authority.

Other of his noted writings include Micromegas, Plato’s Dream etc which was highly philosophical in content. Not only satire, he was equally at ease with writing tragedies which include Henriade, Zaire which inspired millions of people. Along with that, he also wrote Elements of the Philosophy of Newton to teach Newtonian Law to the masses.

Unlike his contemporary thinkers, Voltaire stayed away from using metaphysics in his writings. Since he knew he was teaching millions of people, he took a direct approach in his writings. His writings were both educative and informative. At the same time, they provoked millions of mind to protest and demand for a new beginning which would bring favour for them.

Voltaire died two months after his play Irene was staged. He attended the first performance of his play and died after returning from Paris. Before his death he said that till death, he had worshipped God, loved his friends and equally loved his enemies but hated superstition and anarchy. Amazingly, till his death, he adhered to what he believed.

He was truly a magical man.