Discuss Bacon as an essayist with reference to his essays.

Introduction: The word essay is derived from the French word ‘essayer’, which means “to attempt,” or “to try. Francis Bacon (1561-1626) who is the father of modern English essay has written fifty-eight essays. As an essayist, he has always attempted to maintain all the fundamental steps of this genre of literature. But at the same time, he has added some new techniques to flourish this mighty branch of literature.

Maintaining length: Maintaining length for composing an essay is inevitable. Bacon has a mastery in respect of maintenance of length. To show full command over a subject or topic, the length of an essay should be between 2500 and 3000 words, but Bacon is quite different since most of his essays do not exceed 1000 words. This brevity or shortness does mean that Bacon had not complete command over his topics. Rather it proves the proverb Brevity is the soul of wit.

Thesis based discussion: As we know that an essay is a short composition on a topic based on thesis. At the very outset of his essays, Bacon has declared that his discussion is based on thesis and observation. The beginning of the essay “Of Studies” gives us the idea of thesis-based discussion.

Studies serve for delight, for ornament and for ability.

Nobody could disagree with this statement and cannot dare to show discontent till the resurrection.

To Read More :Discuss Francis Bacon as a moral and utilitarian philosopher based on your reading of his essays.

Purposes: The purposes of an essayist are to persuade the audience to accept the thesis on the subject and simply to entertain. The arguments of Bacon are so reinforcing that the readers cannot help but accepting these. His essays are replete with entertainments like novel, drama, movie or film.

Wives are young men’s mistresses, companions for middle age, and old men’s nurses.

This precise statement of the essay “Of Marriage and Single Life” entertains the audience very highly though there is somewhat rough surface meaning but the deeper meaning of this is supported by religious guideline and practical life. This is also found in the famous essay “Of Studies”.

Use of devices: An essayist has the liberal right to use devices such as anecdote, striking illustrations or humorous logics and arguments. These devices help the author to create a tone of intimacy with the audience. Bacon’s fifty-eight essays abound in devices.

For natural abilities are like natural plants, that need pruning, by study;

Aphorism: Aphorism means a precise and simple statement having deep meaning and significance. Bacon as a father of modern English prose has paved the way of aphoristic style. This is Bacon’s own creation. It is the soul of Bacon’s prose style. The following sentence of the essay “Of Studies” is a perfect example of his aphorism:

Reading maketh a full man; conference a ready man; and writing an exact man.

Use of Latin and Greek phrases: Bacon was man of vast knowledge and experience. He has given guidelines to the later essayists like Addison, Steele, Alexander Pope etc. that there is no hindrance of using the words, phrases or proverbs of other languages in prose writing. There is no single essay of Bacon in which the readers do not face the complexity of Latin or Greek phrases. Such use of phrases is akin to Geoffrey Chaucer’s French and Latin stages of poetic development that is why Bacon is called the father of modern English prose.

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Faults: There is nothing in the world that is over criticism. As an essayist, Bacon is not beyond limitation and criticism. He has some faults too.

  1. Incompleteness
  2. Misquotations
  3. Paradoxical statements

Conclusion: In termination, it can be rightfully asserted that Bacon is a successful essayist and plays a vital role for the development of English prose and language though he is not out of limitations.

Mottaleb Hossain
Mottaleb Hossain

This is Motaleb Hossain, working on studying, a researcher on English literature and Theology.

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