Stylistic Qualities of Bacon’s Essays
Bacon has widely been read all over the world because of his stylistic qualities. He is generally known as father of English prose because of his contribution to it. It is not because he laid the foundation of English Essays but because he created a proper style of writing. English prose was although much developed yet it had some drawbacks. Some of the great writers like Raleigh and Hooker had already developed English essays yet their style of writing was much serious and it could not suit the topics of everyday life. In fact, the style, used in their essays was inspirational. Apart from them, some skilled writers had also shortcomings in their writing styles. Length of sentences in their essays was too long. Moreover, too much knowledge was required to read their essays as they were too studious. Latin words, far-fetched similes and remote metaphors create difficulties for the readers. Most of the writers presented their knowledge as per their own education, ignoring that the readers would face obscurity in reading. The writing style was so difficult that sometimes writers used parenthesis in order to clear the meaning of the words and because of too much parenthesis real taste of subject matter was abolished.
Bacon as hero of English prose writing, reformed the English essays by reducing all the faults, which were there, prior to his writings. There is no denying the fact that Bacon is famous because of the charm in his stylistic qualities. F.G. Selby has prayed Sir Francis Bacon in following words:
“Part of Bacon’s influence is of course due to the charm of his style”
Bacon’s style is amazingly remarkable. His sentences are short and clear. His style of writing is concise. He cuts short long sentences in just simple words. A message, which is conveyed in a paragraph, he can convey it in just few words. He has priority on other writers due to conciseness in his writing. Scarcely, any other writer of his era has the ability to cut short a sentence without losing its meanings. As discussed above, all other writers of his era though were master of prose yet were not able to brief their sentences, due to which, the interest of the readers reduces.
Bacon also removed parenthesis, which increases the interest of the readers and creates amusement. If he wanted to say anything, there is no need for explanation and to write it in parenthesis. One can easily understand it as it is self-explanatory. Hardly, we find parentheses in his essays.
Bacon’s words and sentences are lucid and there is no ambiguity in them. Although, there are allusions in his essays even then they are lucid. Due to clarity, his style has attraction and it appeals the readers. He chooses common words, which also boosts clarity and simplicity. The words are common but it does not mean that they are old. He used modern words, which were spoken in daily life. Like previous writers, he too uses similes and metaphors from poetic imagination but they are common and are mostly from everyday life. Even a layman can understand them. Thus, clarity is also an important ingredient in the style of Sir Francis Bacon.
Rhythm and coherence are additional factors of Bacon’s writing style. He remains within the limits of his subject and instead of having wide knowledge of every subject, does not go beyond the walls of his topic. He does not portray knowledge of every subject in a single essay. Essays with such like styles can only be written by Sir Francis Bacon.
As an essayist, there are some other elements which are worth mentioning. Every writer has personal touch in his writings but Bacon is not among those writers. His essays lack personal touch. No one can glance on the life of Sir Francis Bacon by just reading his essays. His life was full of experiences even then he did not portray it. He, to the point, writers what suits best to his topic rather than giving references from his personal life. There is always a relation between reader and writer while reading and writing but it can never be found in Bacon. He shares his personal experiences, not by quoting incidents of his life but straightly and effectively.
So far as themes of his essays are concerned, we know that he Bacon was the man of world and a politician. Most of the themes, which are used in his essays, are about worldly wisdom, ethical qualities, government or State and science. His taste, in every field of life, is magnificent and he thus shares it with his readers. He was a moralist as well as man of the world, due to which his philosophy and thematic concept is more about the word. He mostly deals with the Machiavellian theory and by giving solid evidence, proves it right. His concern is more with success than with honour. As an opportunist, he promotes opportunity in his essays, therefore, his essays leaves a mark on the minds of readers. The effectiveness of his style forces his reader to think twice on any matter.
Some of the weaknesses, which are considerable, in the style of Bacon are that sometimes his grammatical structure looses. Although he concise his sentences yet it effects on the grammar but it I must say that it does not affect on the meaning of the word; nor it affects on the message, which he wants to convey. Furthermore, Bacon’s essays are mixed with Greek and Latin phrases and they are unable to be understood by a layman. Only well educated persons are familiar with them and thus understand them.
Long and short of the above discussion is that Sir Francis Bacon is commonly known as father of English prose and essays because of his style. There is no match of Sir Francis Bacon, hitherto, in this regard. He had a busy life, therefore, he hardly found time for writing yet his talent of writing is unmatchable up till now. In fact, there is no flaw in saying that English Literature is in debt for making large reformation in English prose, therefore, Bacon will be remembered every time an essay will be written.