Francis Bacon as a Prose Writer and his Contribution in Prose

Francis Bacon is not only known as the father of English Essay but he is also the father of modern English prose. Bacon paved the way for modern style in the writing of English Prose.

Prose Before Francis Bacon:

Before Francis Bacon, Richard Hooker and Walter Raleigh were the greatest English stylists. They wrote magnificent prose that no one could write but the style was not for everyday life. It had some serious drawbacks:

  • The sentences of their prose are long and obscure. Even the most brilliant and skilful writer like Richard Hakluyt has this defect in his writing.
  • There is frequent use of Parentheses that increases obscurity.
  • Similes and metaphors in the writing increase the difficulty for readers because they are drawn from a distant source.
  • There are frequent quotations from the classics and it is too scholarly.

Merits of Bacon’s Prose:

Bacon started writing in simple and clear language that suit everyday life. Many of his lengthy works have the faults of his contemporaries and predecessors but his Essays do not have these faults. His sentences are short in comparison to older prose. He tried to avoid the use of parentheses and his style of writing is distinguished for its simplicity and clarity.

Francis Bacon Contribution in Prose:

Bacon is the one who shows mastery over English prose. Hugh Walker says about

“Bacon prose style that Bacon took one of the longest steps ever taken in the evolution of English prose style, a step which set the style upon the road which it travelled, though not without deviations, down to the days of Swift and Addison.”

Hugh Walker

According to critics, Bacon style has eloquence and it gains lots of interest and they entitled him as the father of modern English prose.

The popularity of Bacon’s Essays:

Francis Bacon Essays were translated into French, Latin and Italian and this shows the popularity of Bacon and his essays. They are filled with many popular quotations. Bacon was not only happy to see the popularity of his essays but he also knew about their importance.

Bacon said about his essays,

” of the best fruits that, by the good increase which God gives to my pain and labours, I could yield”.

Francis Bacon

Bacon was very anxious to turn his essays into Latin because at that time Latin was a universal language, but his essays were published into Latin after his death.

Themes of Francis Bacon Essays:

It is not impossible to guess or find out the themes of Bacon’s essays. Bacon was a moralist and a politician. His essays deal either with the ethical values of men or with politics. There is little mention of science too.

Philosophy of Utilitarianism in Bacon’s writings:

Bacon condemns cunning and for him it is unwise. Sometimes, he put forth the rules for immoral conduct without disapproving it.

In the essay Of Suitors, he knows the existence of wrong and right and he says,

If affection leads a man to favour the wrong side in justice, let him rather use his countenance to compound the mater than to carry it. If affection leads a man to favour the less worthy in the desert, let him do it without depraving or disabling the better deserver.”

Francis Bacon

The utilitarianism of Bacon is confirmed by the tone of many essays that have no concern with moral principles in an individual or with the interests of the state. Some readers also find there is a coldness in the essays of Parents and Children, of marriage and Single, life and Love.

There is no doubt Bacon values friendship but it is mainly for the fruits to be gathered from it. He insists more on what a man receives from his friend, but not what he gives.

Francis Bacon not only contributed to Prose writing but also made it a popular form of writing.

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Naz khaliq

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Naz khaliq

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