Why Was Voltaire Exiled and Sent To Prison – Exploring the Reasons

Why Was Voltaire Exiled and Sent To Prison - Exploring the Reasons

Voltaire, a famous French writer and philosopher, is known for his satirical works and plays, but what many may not know is that he was once exiled and imprisoned. In this article, we will delve into the reasons behind his exile and imprisonment, shedding light on this intriguing chapter of his life.

Voltaire’s sharp wit and critical commentary made him a target for the authorities in France. His play “Candide,” in which he mocked the optimism philosophy of the time, did not sit well with those in power. It is an understatement to say that he ruffled a few feathers with his words.

In 1726, when France was under the regency of the Duke of Orleans, Voltaire was arrested and imprisoned in the Bastille. The exact reasons for his arrest are still debated to this day, but it is believed that his satirical writings and criticism of the French government played a significant role. The authorities saw him as a danger and wanted to silence him.

During his time in prison, Voltaire continued to write. He used his captivity as an opportunity to express his ideas and beliefs. It was during this period that he composed his famous work “Candide.” Despite his imprisonment, Voltaire’s spirit was not broken, and his words continued to inspire and challenge the status quo.

After being released from prison, Voltaire was exiled to England. Many believe that his friends and influential connections recommended him to the English, who welcomed him with open arms. During his time in England, Voltaire became even more famous and his works gained international recognition.

Voltaire’s exile and imprisonment had a profound impact on him. It fueled his desire to question authority and fight for freedom of speech. Throughout his lifetime, he wrote extensively on these topics, becoming one of the most influential thinkers of his time.

Citation Information

Voltaire’s imprisonment and exile can be traced back to his sharp wit and outspoken nature. He was known for his biting satire and his provocative criticism of the government and the church. His play “Candide” was seen as scandalous and insulting to those in power, and it earned him many enemies in high places.

In 1717, Voltaire was sentenced to eleven months in the Bastille prison for his involvement in a duel. During his time in prison, he continued to write and became friends with other prisoners. It was during this imprisonment that he adopted the pen name “Voltaire” and began to establish himself as a professional writer.

After his release from prison, Voltaire went into exile in England. He spent more than two years in England, where he became acquainted with the works of English playwrights and writers. This experience greatly influenced his writing style, and he began to incorporate aspects of English literature into his own works.

Upon his return to France, Voltaire continued to face scrutiny from the authorities. He was targeted for his satirical plays, which were seen as challenging the status quo. He was once again arrested and imprisoned, this time for writing a play that mocked a regent of France.

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Voltaire’s exile and imprisonment did not deter him from speaking his mind. He continued to write and lecture about philosophy and politics, and his works became even more popular and influential. Over time, Voltaire’s ideas and writings gained support among the French people, and he became a symbol of the Enlightenment movement.

Voltaire’s life and works are a testament to his unwavering commitment to the principles of freedom of speech and freedom of thought. His courage in challenging the powers that be, despite the personal hardships he endured, serve as an inspiration to writers and thinkers to this day.

Recommended Citation: “Why Was Voltaire Exiled and Sent To Prison – Exploring the Reasons” – Graduateway, https://graduateway.com/why-was-voltaire-exiled-and-sent-to-prison-exploring-the-reasons/

Satirical writer Voltaire is imprisoned in the Bastille

Voltaire’s most famous work, “Candide,” was a scathing critique of the optimistic philosophy of Leibniz. In the novel, Candide’s mentor, Pangloss, constantly insists that everything is for the best, despite the many trials and misfortunes suffered by the characters. Voltaire used the character of Candide to take aim at the naive and misguided optimism of his times.

His writings and plays were often banned and censored, but he continued to write and publish under pseudonyms and through publishers in other countries, such as England. Voltaire’s sharp wit and keen insights into human nature made him an expert in satire, and his works were highly regarded by fellow writers and intellectuals.

However, his outspokenness eventually landed him in trouble. In 1717, Voltaire got into a conflict with a powerful nobleman and was challenged to a duel. Although he did not accept the duel, he was nonetheless arrested and sentenced to prison. He spent almost a year in the Bastille, the notorious French prison, where he took advantage of his time to write and deepen his knowledge of philosophy.

The arrest and imprisonment did not break Voltaire’s spirit, and when he was released, he went on to become one of the most famous writers and philosophers of his time. His works, including “Candide,” continue to be studied and admired for their biting wit and insightful social commentary.

How Voltaire Went from Bastille Prisoner to Famous Playwright

Voltaire’s imprisonment was not due to any criminal act. In fact, he was sentenced to prison because of his sharp wit and satirical works that often criticized the French monarchy and religious institutions. His famous work “Candide” is a prime example of his satirical style.

During his time in prison, Voltaire’s mother recommended that he write plays as a way to distract himself from his circumstances. He took her advice to heart and began writing plays that would later become some of his most famous works.

Once released from prison, Voltaire wasted no time in pursuing his newfound passion for playwriting. He became a professional playwright and turned his imprisonment into inspiration for his works.

Turning Imprisonment into Inspiration

One of Voltaire’s most famous plays, “Candide,” was heavily influenced by his time in prison. The play is a philosophical and satirical take on optimism and follows the misadventures of the optimistic young man Candide and his philosopher mentor, Pangloss.

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Voltaire used “Candide” as a means to convey his critical views on the world and society. Through the characters and their experiences, he questioned the concept of optimism and explored the flaws in human nature and society’s institutions.

By combining his own experiences as a prisoner with his philosophical ideas, Voltaire was able to create a work that resonated with people who were questioning the prevailing beliefs and institutions of their time.

Becoming a Famous Playwright

Voltaire’s plays became incredibly popular and received both praise and criticism from the public and the ruling elite. His clever and witty writing style made him a favorite among the theater-goers, and his plays were often performed to sold-out audiences.

Voltaire’s plays were not only entertaining but also conveyed important messages about social and political issues. His works were seen as a form of social commentary that challenged the absolute rule of kings and regents and advocated for freedom of thought and expression.

Voltaire’s success as a playwright made him a household name and solidified his status as one of the most influential writers of his time. His works continue to be studied and appreciated to this day.

Fact Check

  • Voltaire, a famous French writer and philosopher, was imprisoned multiple times during his lifetime.
  • He was often seen as a threat by absolute kings and was sentenced to prison as a result.
  • One of his most famous works, the satirical novella “Candide”, was a critique of the optimism philosophy of the times.
  • In “Candide”, Voltaire introduced the character Pangloss, who embodies the optimistic view that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds”.
  • The play “Candide” was performed in theaters and gained him both popularity and enemies.
  • Voltaire’s friends recommended him to take his plays to England, where he would find more freedom to express his ideas.
  • Voltaire’s imprisonment in the Bastille was a result of his involvement in a satire that targeted the regents of France.
  • Voltaire was also exiled to England for his writings and his mother played a role in his decision to go there.
  • It is important to fact check information about Voltaire and his works, as he became an expert at using his writing to criticize the establishment.
  • If you want to know more about Voltaire’s imprisonment and exile, Graduateway provides a wealth of information on the subject.
  • Voltaire is often seen as one of the most influential writers of his time and his works continue to be studied by scholars today.
  • When Voltaire was imprisoned, he continued to write and his letters from prison are a testament to his resilience and wit.
  • There is no record of Voltaire being sent to prison specifically for teaching his philosophy.
  • Fact checking Voltaires’ works is important for understanding the context in which he wrote and the impact he had on society.
  • Voltaire’s imprisonment and exile did not silence him, as he went on to write more plays, essays, and letters throughout his lifetime.

It is always important to fact check historical information and avoid taking things at face value. By examining primary sources and multiple perspectives, we can gain a more accurate understanding of why Voltaire was exiled and sent to prison.

Why is Candide Sentenced to Run the Gauntlet?

As a young writer, Voltaire became well-known for his sharp wit and biting criticism. He wrote many plays that were highly recommended by his friends, including some influential regents. However, his words and ideas often angered those in power. In fact, one of his most famous works, Pangloss, was a satire that mocked the optimism of those who believed in absolute kings and their ability to bring about the best of all possible worlds.

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So, why did Voltaire choose to make Candide, his young and optimistic protagonist, run the gauntlet? The answer lies in the fact that he wanted to teach the people about the harsh realities of life. Voltaire believed that optimism could blind people to the injustices and suffering in the world, and he used Candide’s journey as a vehicle to challenge this view.

Running the gauntlet was a brutal punishment used in military and naval contexts, where a person would be forced to run between two lines of soldiers who would strike them with sticks or other weapons. By subjecting Candide to this punishment, Voltaire was emphasizing the idea that even the most innocent and optimistic individuals can face unimaginable difficulties and cruelty.

To understand why Candide was sentenced to run the gauntlet, it is also essential to consider the historical context of France at the time. Voltaire was a staunch critic of the French monarchy and the powerful elite. His writings often exposed the corruption and injustices prevalent in society, which made him a target for those in power.

Voltaire’s imprisonment in the Bastille and exile from France were direct consequences of his defiance and outspoken nature. He was seen as a threat to the established order, and those in power wanted to suppress his ideas and prevent his influence on the people.

How Long is Candide

The novel contains various themes and philosophical ideas, such as optimism and the questioning of popular beliefs. The main character, Candide, encounters many obstacles and meets several eccentric characters, including his mentor Pangloss, who is known for his belief in the idea that “all is for the best in the best of all possible worlds.” Through Candide’s experiences, Voltaire criticizes the naive optimism and blind faith in philosophical theories prevalent during his time.

As for the length of Candide, it is a relatively short novel compared to other works by Voltaire. It typically consists of around 100-150 pages, depending on the edition and translation. Despite its brevity, Candide is packed with wit, irony, and thought-provoking insights into human nature and society.

If you’re interested in reading Candide, you can find more information about it on websites like Graduateway, where you can also check out other works by Voltaire. This satirical masterpiece is often recommended for its engaging narrative style, sharp social commentary, and timeless relevance.


Why was Voltaire exiled from France?

Voltaire was exiled from France due to his critical writings and satirical works that offended the French government and the Catholic Church.

Why was Voltaire sent to prison?

Voltaire was sent to prison because of his involvement in a dispute with a nobleman. He insulted the nobleman and was subsequently imprisoned in the Bastille.

Why did Voltaire write Candide?

Voltaire wrote Candide as a satirical critique of the philosophy of optimism. He wanted to highlight the flaws and absurdities of this belief system, which he found to be unrealistic and harmful.

What is Candide about?

Candide is a satirical novel that follows the journey of its eponymous protagonist as he travels the world and encounters various misfortunes. It is a critique of optimism and explores themes of human suffering, hypocrisy, and the search for meaning in life.

Alex Koliada, PhD

By Alex Koliada, PhD

Alex Koliada, PhD, is a well-known doctor. He is famous for studying aging, genetics, and other medical conditions. He works at the Institute of Food Biotechnology and Genomics. His scientific research has been published in the most reputable international magazines. Alex holds a BA in English and Comparative Literature from the University of Southern California, and a TEFL certification from The Boston Language Institute.