Analysis: Steaminess Rating
Exactly how steamy is this story?
Voltaire makes fun of everything, including sexytimes. And given that most of what goes down in Candide is shocking and violent, it's not surprising that the sex is mostly degradation, rape, and hideous sexual assault.
Putting rape in what is essentially a comic novel? Tricky. But Voltaire pulls it off because he doesn't spare anyone grief. When you're lampooning Optimism, you have to show the darkest parts of what the world has to offer, including natural disasters, wars, treachery, and rape.
He manages to make some of the sexual violence so ridiculous it becomes hilarious... which again, is no small accomplishment. For example, the Old Woman is lacking a butt cheek because, while working as a prostitute in a harem, some hungry guards chopped it off and ate it. Dark? Oh yeah. But funny in context? Yes indeed.