Voltaire began his career in literature by writing for the theater. One of his plays, The Orphan of China, was an adaptation of a Chinese play, The Orphan of the Mansion Tchao. Many critics contend that in this play Voltaire is: 1. Propagating the spirit of the Enlightenment to the Europeans via his representation of the Chinese; 2. Refuting Rousseau because he condemns civilization as the source of men's suffering and pain; and 3. Lacking in understanding of Chinese history during the Mongolian invasion. This thesis will argue that critics have not examined the essential philosophical theory in The Orphan of China because they have overlooked the significance of sacrificial and judicial systems (in Europe and, more importantly, in China) in the play. In the first chapter, I will demonstrate Voltaire's theory of civilization by contrasting The Orphan of China with Rousseau's essays: Discourse on Arts and Science and On the Origin of Inequality. The succeeding chapters will illustrate Voltaire's ideal society which is supported by judicial system.
College and Department
Humanities; French and Italian
BYU ScholarsArchive Citation
Fang, Huichun, "Voltaire: From Sacrificial to Judicial System in the Play The Orphan of China" (2008). Theses and Dissertations. 1472.