Essays Themes

The three main themes in Essays include life, relationships, and truth.

  • Life: Many of Bacon's essays are concerned with how humans can to conduct themselves to lead better lives.
  • Relationships: Bacon frequently touches on the dynamics of friendships and familial relationships.
  • Truth: Bacon's essays are all, whether directly or indirectly, concerned with searching for the truth.

Themes

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Last Updated September 5, 2023.

Life

Bacon's essays encompass topics like religion, personal wisdom, connections to other people, work, and moral quandaries. It seems as if Bacon has created a guidebook to explain to his readers how to examine different parts of their lives and find better ways to understand them. By addressing so many different areas of life, he's able to come to a better understanding of the meaning and purpose of life itself. Many of his essays include life advice: for example,

A man had need, if he be plentiful in some kind of expense, to be as saving again in some other. As if he be plentiful in diet, to be saving in apparel; if he be plentiful in the hall, to be saving in the stable; and the like. For he that is plentiful in expenses of all kinds, will hardly be preserved from decay. In clearing of a man's estate, he may as well hurt himself in being too sudden, as in letting it run on too long.

Bacon clearly wrote these Essays to guide people toward living a better life through the thoughts and experiences he himself had.

Relationships

Bacon published essays about friendship, followers, family, and how to relate to others. He says that anyone who is married with children has created barriers to great accomplishments in his life. He says the greatest, most important works came from childless, unmarried men. At the same time, he says that children make work feel sweeter and make problems seem more bitter. In other words, they might prevent you from achieving great things, but they also give your work more meaning because there is someone else depending on you. Bacon also clearly believed that friendship was good for most men; he said anyone who preferred solitude was either a god or a wild beast.

Truth

It's important to remember that the Essays are all individual works and were originally published separately from one another. The themes vary according to the particular essay that a person is reading. However, each of the essays concerns the search for truth. One of the first essays that Bacon published was called "Of Truth," and it sets up the understanding that most people don't care about objective truth. Instead, they look for truths that are most convenient for them or ignore ones that might create problems. Truth is a difficult thing because it requires a person to work hard and limit their freedom. Bacon also discusses the difference between objective truth and subjective truth, which is the truth of civil business.

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