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What are the salient features of Bacon's prose style?

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kausar | Student, Undergraduate | eNotes Newbie

Posted March 3, 2009 at 8:05 PM via web

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What are the salient features of Bacon's prose style?

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kc4u | College Teacher | Valedictorian

Posted June 23, 2009 at 7:51 PM (Answer #1)

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Francis Bacon was one of the early masters of English prose. He used to write a terse, epigrammatic, utilitarian prose, a prose well-structured and prescriptive, logical and illustrative. Climactic, often maxim-like, sentences woven into the strong and sound fabric of his prose. Bacon's prose was permeated with practical wisdom, and he addressed his readers in an oracular voice. Many of his observations have become proverbial expressions in the English language.

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jerrybili | Student, Undergraduate | eNoter

Posted May 1, 2012 at 8:53 AM (Answer #2)

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Bacon’s prose style includes a number of features common to the Elizabethans and the Jacobeans: 

1) The of Bacon remains for the main part aphoristic. These are a terseness of expression and epigrammatic brevity in the essays of Bacon. In fact, the essays of Bacon have to be read slowly because of the compact and condensed thought. There are a number of lines, which are read like proverbs. As for example we can quote the essay Of Truth. In this essay Bacon says“ A lie faces God and shrinks pleasure. These sentences show that Bacon is a man of practical wisdom. 

2) This aphoristic style always depends on the device of balance and antithesis. In the essay Of Studies. Bacon says, Studies serve for ornament and for ability In the essay Of Studies he says “ Read not to contradict, nor to believe, but to weigh and consider. He scrupulously presents the advantages and the disadvantages of a particular issue. In the essay Of Mavriage and Single life. Bacon says that an unmarried man is a good friend, good master and good servant, but he is unreliable as a good citizen. In Of Parents and Children Bacon says that children sweeten labour lent they make misfortune bitterer; they increase the care of life but they mitigate the remembrance of death. This sort of weighing and balancing makes his style antithetical. 

3) In Bacon’s style there is an over luxuriance of figures of speech. Bacon is a past master of simile and metaphor. The fact is that Bacon’s mind was wonderfully quick in perceiving analogies of ass types. His similes and metaphors are telling. They strike, they charm and sometimes they thrill. As for example in the essay Of Truth Bacon writes: A mixture of falsehood is like alloy in coin of gold and silver which may make the metal work better, but it debaseth it. In Of Study he says: Some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed and some few to be chewed and digested. 

4) Bacon is a master of rhetoric and pithy sentences in his essays. Indeed, the secu of Bacon’s strength lies in his conciseness. We ignored the unnecessary conceits and over crowded imagery of the Enthusiast; but he knew, how to high up his thought with well-placed figures and give to it an imaginative glow and charm when required. 

Bacon’s style was suited for all occasions. His prose style was eminently fitted for such dignified subjects as Truth, Atheism and Love and also such ordinary subjects as ‘Marriage and single life’ and gardening.’The adaptability to the subject matter was a characteristic quality of his writings. 

To conclude we may say that Bacon’s style is compact yet polished and indeed some of its conciseness is due to the skillful adaptation of Latin idiom and phrase. But its wealth of metaphor is characteristically Elizabethan and reflects the exuberance of the Renaissance. No man in English literature is so fertile in pregnant and pithy comparisons. Bacon set up a new method of prose writing, which was at once easy, simple, graceful, rhetorical, musical and condensed.

 

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