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Francis Bacon - Collection of Essays

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Not Just Essays

Francis Bacon wrote a collection of essays, playing a significant role in the development of the essay. Not only was Bacon a significant contributor to the development of the English essay, but also promoted learning through experimentation (Norton Anthology, 1550). Much of the critical response applauded Bacon for the art he had of creating wise and fascinating work. Bacon wrote about universal concepts: truth, death, love, goodness, friendship, fortune, and praise, controversial matters: religion, atheism, custom and education, and usury, and many other matters.

Richard Whately analyzed Bacon's Essays and believed that it "was not a finished treatise, but the jotting down of fragmentary thoughts (Whately, 536)." Like Whately, many readers were left with the idea that the Essays were not a completed piece of work, but what was written holds a lot of knowledge and well organized thoughts. The Essays "are a collection of the ripest and best thoughts of a master thinker, whose range of speculation and knowledge seems almost fabulous, yet who is never superficial, never a copyist (Whately, 536)." Bacon's work was unlike any other writer of his time; he did not focus on one idea but wrote about multiple problems, interests, and thinking of people during that time. His work was not judging, accusing, pointing fingers, or telling people how to live their lives, but was providing insight and wisdom.

Writing essays was rare in the sixteen century and Bacon did a great job by using them as "a carefully fashioned statement, both informative and expressive (Williamson, 1)." Bacon comments about life, nature, and society. He did not write the essays to persuade people or to provide facts as if they were scientific facts. "Perhaps that is one reason why it is not so popular in an age in which the truth of claims and their practical importance are always questioned," says a critical analyzer (Williamson, 1). His essays were short, well written, humane, and lively. The last essays showed that Bacon had become a sadder but wiser individual. Titles were simple, always telling the reader what the essay was going to discuss.

From Essay of Death, Bacon believes that as society hears more and more about death, the fear of dying gets bigger. Williamson critical analysis comments in the idea that death does not have to be painful and the end of everything, "by references to Augustus Caesar, Tiberius, Vesparian, and others, Bacon shows that, even in their last moments, great men maintained their characters and composure (Williamson, 2)." Bacon believes that death can bring good endings, for example, the end to envy and bring good fame.

In From Essay of Adversity, Bacon puts his own experiences into words. He reflects on his imprisonment for bribery. "Prosperity is the blessing of the Old Testament; Adversity is the blessing



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