Francis Bacon Questions and Answers

Start Your Free Trial

Examine the aphoristic style in Bacon's essays.

Expert Answers info

David Morrison eNotes educator | Certified Educator

calendarEducator since 2017

write12,064 answers

starTop subjects are Literature, History, and Law and Politics

Bacon's aphoristic style of writing serves a precise purpose. He wants to purge the English language of superfluous words, just as he wants to purge the modern mind of superfluous ideas. For Bacon, as for many of his contemporaries, language is a reflection of thought. So clear thoughts should always be articulated by language with the greatest possible degree of clarity and precision.

The aphorisms that Bacon employs are remarkable for their forcefulness. The nineteenth-century English churchman Dean Church described Bacon's aphoristic sentences as coming down like the strokes of a hammer. And this is a deliberate strategy on Bacon's part. By seeking the maximum degree of both concision and precision, he's trying to get the reader to accept the force of his arguments. Short sentences are often more effective in this regard, giving the arguments they contain more immediacy, a greater sense of power. For example:

The ways to enrich are many, and most of them foul. ("Of Riches")

Lesser writers would have devoted an entire page to such an idea, rambling on at inordinate length. But not Bacon. He knows the value of a good, snappy aphorism to drive his point home. Not only is the aphorism a more forceful way of getting your point across, it's also a good deal more memorable than a long sentence or paragraph.

check Approved by eNotes Editorial



drahmad1989 | Student

Bacon essays are most remarkable for its terseness.Every sentence in his essays is pregnant with meaning nad is capable of being expanded into several sentences.This style is now known as Aphoristic Style, means a compact , condensed and epigrammatic style of writing.

For example in his essay OF TRUTH he says :

"A mixture of lie doth ever add pleasure."

in essay OF GREAT PLACE:

"It is strange desire to seek power and lose liberty; or to seek power over others and to lose power over a man's self".

In essay OF STUDIES:

"Crafty man condemn studies; simple man admire them; and wise man use them".

" some books are to be tasted, others to be swallowed, and some few are to chewed and digested".