Francis Bacon Prose style | Stylistic Qualities of Bacon’s Essays

Francis Bacon Prose style | Stylistic Qualities of Bacon’s Essays

Francis Bacon has widely been read all over the world not only because of his philosophy but also because of his prose style. There are certain stylistic qualities in Bacon’s essays due to which he gained fame. Generally, he is known as father of English prose. He does not only laid the foundation of English Essays but also created a proper writing style. Bacon is famous because of the charm in his stylistic qualities. F.G. Selby appreciated Bacon’s contribution in following words:

“Part of Bacon’s influence is of course due to the charm of his style”

F.G. Selby – on prose style of Francis Bacon

Indeed, prose style of sir Francis Bacon is remarkable. Let’s find out some advance features in it. However, before doing so, it is necessary to have knowledge about prose style of former writers so that we can compare it with Sir Francis Bacon.

Former writers’ Prose Style:

Many writers have contributed in keeping prose up-to-date. It was already developed even then it had some drawbacks. Some of the great writers like Raleigh and Hooker were writing prose yet their style of writing was much serious as compared to Sir Francis Bacon due to which it was difficult to write on common topics. Apart from them, some skilled writers had also shortcomings in their writing styles. For instance, length of sentences was too long. Essays were too studious hence extra knowledge was required to read them. Latin words, far-fetched similes and remote metaphors created difficulties for the readers. They lead the readers into obscurity. Practice of using parenthesis was common resulted in ruining the real taste of essays.

Prose Style of Francis Bacon:

Francis Bacon reformed the English prose style by reducing all above said shortcomings. It is not wrong to say that Francis Bacon introduced a new style of prose writing. Following are some stylistic qualities of Bacon’s essays.

  • Short and concise sentences.
  • No Parenthesis.
  • Clarity.
  • Rhythm and Coherence.
  • Aphoristic style.
  • Themes related to worldly wisdom.

Conciseness as one of the major stylistic qualities of Francis Bacon:

Bacon uses short and concise sentences. His purpose is to explain his philosophy in lesser words. We hardly find any essay which is too long. It is easier for him to cut short the long sentences. A message which requires a paragraph, he can convey it in fewer words and that too without loosing its meanings. Scarcely, any other writer of his era has this kind of ability. In short, he keeps his subject focused, clear and concise.

No Parenthesis:

Bacon has also removed parenthesis. He has no sentence that requires explanation; therefore, he does not need parenthesis. This stylistic quality of Bacon’s essays, increases interest of readers. Every word is self-explanatory; each sentence explains itself.

Clarity in Prose Style of Francis Bacon:

Bacon’s words and sentences are lucid and there is no ambiguity in them. There are allusions in his essays even then there is no vagueness. His style has attraction and it appeals to the readers due to clarity. He chooses simple and common words. Like previous writers, he too uses similes and metaphors but they are not far-fetched. He also gives examples mostly from everyday life experiences. Even a layman can understand his philosophy. Clarity, in this way, is another important ingredient of prose style of Sir Francis Bacon.

Rhythm and Coherence:

Besides, clarity and conciseness, coherence has its own importance. Lack of coherence in sentences means lack of interest of readers. Bacon knows it; therefore, there is a kind of rhythm in his essays. He elucidates his philosophy step by step. He divides subtopics in paragraphs. Several critics appreciate coherence in Bacon’s essays. Coherence is harmony and harmony increases the interest of readers.

Aphoristic style:

It is an epigrammatic style of writing. All above mentioned qualities fall in it. Aphoristic style prefers describing facts and truths. We know that Francis Bacon does not create Utopian world in his essays. He is known for his worldly philosophy. One can become successful in this wold if he follows him. Hence, his philosophy is based on truths and facts. He may be the meanest kind of person yet he always speaks the truth.

Aphoristic style is the combination of following qualities:

  • Epigram
  • Straightforward 
  • Truthfulness
  • Impartiality
  • Impersonality

All above qualities are there in his essays. These make prose style of Francis Bacon charming as pointed out by F.G. Selby.

Click to read More about Aphoristic style.

Themes:

So far as themes of his essays are concerned, we know that Bacon was the man of world and a politician. Most of the themes used by him are related to:

  • Worldly wisdom.
  • Ethical qualities.
  • Government.
  • State.
  • science.

His experience, in every field of life, is magnificent thus he shares it with his readers. He is a moralist though his morality is related to worldly success. His thematic concept is more related to word. His approach is Machiavellian and by giving solid examples from history, he proves it right. He prefers success to honour. As an opportunist, he suggests to avail every opportunity. Effectiveness of his style forces his readers to think twice on a matter.

Weaknesses in Prose Style of Francis Bacon:

There are some weaknesses which are noteworthy. Sometimes his grammatical structure looses. He makes his sentences concise but readers see its effect directly on grammar. However, I must say that it does not affect meanings of the words. Furthermore, he uses excessive Latin phrases which sometimes create difficulty.

Conclusion:

Sir Francis Bacon is commonly known as father of English prose and essays because of his style. There is no match for him, hitherto. He had a busy life, therefore, he hardly found time for writing yet his talent of writing was unsurpassed up till now. English Literature is in debt to him for making large reformation in English prose. Indeed, he would be remembered every time an essay is written.

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Francis Bacon Prose style | Stylistic Qualities of Bacon's Essays
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Francis Bacon Prose style | Stylistic Qualities of Bacon's Essays
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Francis Bacon has widely been read all over the world because of his prose style. Certain stylistic qualities in Bacon's essays helped him in gaining fame.
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