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Old Friday, October 28, 2016
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Default BACON ESSAY, “Of marriage and single life”


“Of marriage and single life”
In Bacon’s essay ‘of marriage and single life’, Francis Bacon weighs the pros and cons of marriage chiefly from the point of view of society, with only a nod to the personal benefits or detriments. The first part of the opening sentence of Bacon’s essay, “Of Marriage and single life”, is usually taken as a comment against marriage;
“He that hath wife and children hath given hostages to fortune”
‘Hostage to Fortune’ is the title of Jardine & Stewart’s biography of Bacon (discussed briefly biographical posts.) The phrase just means that people with spouses and kids are no longer free to choose as they please. They have to make sensible choices, which tend to be moderate. Great enterprises entail risk.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing about this essay is its outstanding objectivity. Bacon looks at the institution of marriage with clinical eye. The first part of the opening sentence does appear to be negative in its import. And this is the part which is usually quoted. However the second part of the essay completes the picture and should not be ignored.
The main aspect of the writer in this essay is to convey his thoughts regarding marriage that some people do not like to get marry because they regard wife and children as items of expenditures and also they want to be rich and to acquire a reputation of being rich. It is also fact that they want to lead an independent life and marriage curtains freedom. Bacon is mostly perceived as a cold and calculating person. As such, he cannot be considered as having a soft corner for children. But, consider the following lines:
“…there are some foolish rich, covetous men that take a pride in having no children because they may be thought so much the richer…”
It is true that Bacon considers the merits of unmarried men too. Bacon argues that it is the single and childless men who have done a great deal for society. They give a lot of attention to the public and use their money and resources for public benefit, in this sense they can be regarded as having married the public at large and considering it to be their children. The public is a single man's family and he gives his love and money to it in Bacon's viewpoint. Bacon further says that single men prove to be best friends, better masters and servants. However, they are not always good citizens, as, being rootless and without responsibility. They find it easy to leave the country. Bacon says an interesting thing as:
"A single life doth well with churchmen; for charity will hardly water the ground where it must first fill a pool."
Advancing his argument upon the topic, Bacon says that some men regard wife and children as financial liabilities to be avoided. Other foolish and greedy men pride themselves upon the fact that they have no children. They feel that they would be thought rich by others if they had no children on whom they had to spend more.
As regards the various professions; a single life is good for the clergy and other churchmen. If they have no wife and children, they would have more for charity, it does not matter much whether a judge is married or single but marriage is preferable because married judges are more kind and sympathetic. Single men may be more charitable for their means but they are hard hearted. Grave men are loving and faithful husbands. Chaste woman are proud of their chastity and often forward in their manners. A wife is obedient and chaste only if she thinks her husband wise. But if her husband is jealous, she will never do this. Husbands should, therefore, never be jealous. Wives are young men’s mistresses, companions for middle age and old men’s nurses. A man may marry when he likes but it would better if he marries young. It is to be noted that figure of speech to illustrate the idea is very apt and has literary charm. Enumerating the advantages of married life Bacon says:
“Certainly wife and children are a kind of discipline of humanity”
It can be concluded here that “Of Marriage and single life” is one of Bacon’s deliberating essay in which its objectivity can be examined easily. Bacon’s nobility of diction, characterization and all collaborated ideas made him quite aloof and distinctive in the history of English prose writing. Overall, in the essay "OF MARRIAGE AND SINGLE LIFE" there is lack of emotions but the arguments are perfectly logical and therefore, convincing.
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