What is the analysis of Francis Bacon's essay "Of Death?"

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literaturenerd | High School Teacher | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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When completing a literary analysis, a reader must examine the purpose behind how and why a text was written. Authors make very specific literary and stylistic choices for very specific reasons. A reader completing an analysis must pay attention to these things.

In regards to his essay "Of Death," Bacon hides makes no restraints. The essay opens stating "Men fear death." Immediately after, he compares this fear to the fear felt by children when afraid of the dark. Although nothing really exists within the dark to support the fear, it is the fear of what could be there which increases and enforces the fear. Bacon's essay, then, is meant to enlighten the reader in regards to why one should not fear death. Essentially, Bacon's argument lies in the fact that death is natural, and, for that reason, it should not be feared. Therefore, Bacon's purpose lies in comforting his reader about the concepts surrounding and existing within death. 

The repetition of the "s," "m, and "f" " sounds illustrates Bacon's purpose. "S's" (should, sometimes, superstition) are sibilants. These sounds tends to be soft and comforting (when used correctly). "M's" (meditations, mixtures), on the other hand, are nasals. These sounds soften and calm. "F" (fingers, friar, fear) sounds are fricatives and can be hard or voiceless. In Bacon's essay, many of the "f" sounds are voiceless (which, again, add to the calming nature of the essay). 

Overall, Bacon's language choices and stylistic choices insure the message of his essay (that death should be accepted and not feared) is heard. The essay's movement allows for the reader to become comfortable with death since the fear is compared to a child's fear of the dark (which, as an adult, the reader may have already overcome). By bringing forward a prior emotion and victory over a previous fear, Bacon illustrates the reasoning behind one not possessing a fear of death. 

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