His writing has been admired for various reasons. Some admire his dazzling power of rhetoric, others, his grace, and yet others find him too stiff and rigid. But all admit that he is one of the greatest writers of English prose of his age. The style of Bacon remains for the main part aphoristic. There is a terseness of expression and epigrammatic brevity in the essays of Bacon.

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He evolved a prose style that proved for the first time that English could also be used to express the subtleties of thought, in clear and uninvolved sentences. Does Bacon have two styles? Macaulay, by contrasting extracts from Of Studies and Of Adversity illustrates what he calls the two styles of Bacon.

Indeed it is true that there is a vast difference in the styles. But it is rather questionable whether this difference could be attributed to the fact that Bacon had gained a maturity of mind and intellect. This inference, as Hugh Walker shows, is not tenable. Bacon in fact wrote in more than one style; he suits his style to his subject. The style of Advancement of Learning shows an adornments as rich as that of Adversity.

The stately movement of The Advancement of Learning has been achieved in itself. Does this mean that Bacon has achieved this maturity and development in mind and imagination in the space of eight years? This seems a rather unconvincing and unrealistic explanation for the change in his style. The original idea was to make the essays into a sort of diary in which significant observations on various topics of practical importance, domestic, political, intellectual, moral, religious and social, were to be jotted down in a terse and pithy and concise language.

These first essays were mere skeletons of thought, grouped around central themes with suitable titles. There was no attempt at polishing the style, or clothing the statements with literary beauty or imaginative grace. When, however, Bacon saw that his essays had gained an unexpected popularity, he thought it was worthwhile to spend some more time on them and make item more polished and riches.

Thus, the later essays acquired flesh and blood; the argument was amplified with the help of illustrations and analogies, the phrasing became more rounded and the style more supple and eloquent than before. The stylistic changes are prompted mainly by the desire to bring about greater clarity and richness. In the earlier essays, Bacon treated the subject in a very sketchy and incomplete manner.

In the later essays, there is a warmth and colour and the introduction of connective clauses and conjunctions. In the earlier essays there is an extreme condensation that would not have been there if he had been treating the subject more fully. Each sentence in these essays contains as some critics point out, matter for a paragraph. Though even in the later essays in the general conception of essays as an attempt is preserved, and the subject is still treated incompletely, the loose thoughts are no longer disconnected.

His conception of the essay has developed. Some admire his dazzling power of rhetoric, others, his grace, and yet others find him too stiff and rigid. But all admit that he is one of the greatest writers of English prose of his age. His essays have become a classic of the English language and they owe this position, not so much to their subject matter, as to their inimitable style and literary flavour.

In Bacon we find a style which is distinct and at the same time characteristic of his age. Aphoristic Style The style of Bacon remains for the main part aphoristic, with the result that he is one of the most quotable of writers. There is a terseness of expression, and an epigrammatic brevity, in the essays of Bacon. His sentences are brief and rapid, but they are also forceful.

This terseness is often achieved by leaving out superfluous epithets and conjunctions and connectives. It is seldom carried to the extent of causing obscurity, though one or two instances do exist where this extreme condensation has caused great difficulty in understanding the meaning.

This is a remarkable power of compressing into a few words an idea which other writers may express in several sentences. The essays of Bacon in fact have to be read slowly because of the compact and condensed thought. A lie faces God and Shrinks from man.

Of Truth 2. Suspicions among thoughts are like bats among birds. Of Suspicion 3. The ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul. Of Riches 4. A mixture of a lie doth ever add pleasure. Of Truth 5. Of Great Place 6. The rising unto place is laborious, and by pains men come to greater pains. Of Great Place There is not one essay which does not contain such capsules of common wisdom.

The sentences are pregnant with meaning. They are often curt, telegraphic or stenographic in nature. Antithetical Statements The force of the aphoristic statements depend upon other stylistic devices which supplement them. These are examples of two-pronged balance in the structure of sentences. When he makes a statement, he almost immediately counter-balances it. He scrupulously presents the advantages and the disadvantages of a particular issue; he gives both sides of the picture.

Sometimes he draws definite conclusions after balancing the issues, but most of the time the reader is left to draw his own conclusion. In the essay Of Marriage and Single life, for instance, Bacon weighs the advantages of both the states in a cool and rational fashion. Such weighing and balancing makes his style antithetical. Each sententious statement is balanced by an opposite statement.

In this connection. That he dazzles, amuses half-delusively, suggests, stimulates, provokes, eddies, instructs, satisfies, is indeed perfectly true. He has great powers of attracting and persuading his readers even though he may not convince them. His Imagery and Analogy There is a constant use of imagery and figurative language in Bacon, especially in his later essays. These devices were regarded by rhetoricians, and by Bacon, as functional or an integral part of the main object of the writer, namely to persuade, move and inform the reader.

Bacon draws his imagery from the familiar objects of nature, or from the facts of every day life. His similes are most of the time, apt, vivid and suggestive. Abstract truth is vivified by a concrete analogy of the unfamiliar thing with a familiar object, process or experience of common everyday life.

And Bacon draws these analogies from a surprising range of sources. Classical mythology, the Bible, astronomy, philosophy, natural observation and domestic objects and functions, navigation, war, the sea or the garden, all these are pressed into service for communicating the meaning to the minds of the reader.

The analogies may take the form of similitudes simple and short, or complex and elaborate, or they may be short and suggestive as metaphors. There are numerous examples to be found in the essays.

In his essay, Of Studies he says that distilled books are like common distilled water flashy things. In such examples comparison serves to intensify the aphoristic force of his wisdom. Often he uses analogy to illustrate his ideas. He compares falsehood to an alloy in a coin of gold or silver. The alloy makes the metal work better, but it lowers the value of the metal. But these allusions, like the images and metaphors are functional.

Most of his allusions to Roman history are used to illustrate and support the argument in hand. The essay, Of Empire, abounds in this kind of allusions, hi the essay, Of friendship, a string of historical allusions are given in support of his argument. At times, he even gives his own interpretation of quotations to make them fit the occasion. At times the quotations are rather inaccurate, made to be more serviceable to him than the exact words would have been. At times the quotations not only support the argument, but are themselves elucidated by the argument.

In the essay Of friendship, for example, the argument is set in motion by a quotation by Aristotle. Bacon thus employs allusions and quotations in order to explain his point. They serve to make his style more scholarly and enrich it while lending weight to his ideas.

The sentences are short and with this shortness came lucidity. The grammatical structure is sometimes loose, but the sense is rarely ambiguous.

The new style of Bacon fitted itself as easily to buildings and gardens, or to suitors, as to truth and death. He is a master of the skilful use of words. Yet at times this very condensation leads to a certain obscurity, though it is so in very few cases. There are a few Latinism in his essays which are difficult to follow. Dolours pain , plausible praiseworthy ; foreseen provided ; creature created tiling are just a few examples of Latinisms. Conclusion The style of Bacon is not the personal, and chatty style of the subjective essayist like Montaigne or Lamb.

It is dignified and aphoristic, full of learned quotations, and allusions, informed by striking though apt analogies. But what is most remarkable about this style is its terseness and brevity, the compact and condensed structure of sentences expressing the deepest thoughts in an economy of language.

He was indeed a consummate artist who polished and chiselled his expressions and who could change his style to suit his subject. With him, English prose definitely took a long leap forward. Bacon possessed a remarkable ability to express deep weighty and profound thoughts with an economy of language. It is this ability that makes most of his sentences read like proverbs or maxims or aphorisms.

Most of his sentences can be expanded into whole paragraphs - there is so much meaning compressed into them. The terse epigrammatic nature of his sentences make them easily remembered and quotable. Different uses of Aphoristic Sentences This aphoristic style i.

Bacon sometimes writes down an aphoristic statement immediately after an analogy, so as to bring home the truth of the saying with added force.


Aphoristic style of Bacon

He evolved a prose style that proved for the first time that English could also be used to express the subtleties of thought, in clear and uninvolved sentences. Macaulay, contrasting extracts from of Studies and Of Adversity illustrates what he calls the two styles of Bacon. It is true that there is a vast difference between the styles of Bacon. But it is rather questionable whether this difference could be attributed to the fact that Bacon had gained a maturity of mind and intellect. Bacon wrote in more than one style. The stately movement of The Advancement of Learning and Of Adversity has been achieved in itself. Does that mean that Bacon had achieved maturity of mind and imagination in eight years?



But it is often argued whether his essays correspond to the conventional definition of the term. Aphorisms are straightforward statements that state a truth. Bacon in his essays writes in an aphoristic style making general statements. Again he says that there are different kinds of books - some are to be perused lightly, others to be digested and so on. Bacon merely states these facts almost as if they are established truths. He does not provide his personal opinion or give any examples as to which books are to be read lightly or which are to be digested.


The Prose Style of Francis Bacon




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