“Of Death” by Francis Bacon

“Of Death” by Francis Bacon

This is an argumentative essay by Francis Bacon. He actually works on the minds of the readers and tries to remove the fears of death from their minds. He says that no doubt, death is a great reality and sooner or later, we are to die but most of the people are afraid of death. They think that it is a painful thing but Bacon does not agree with these people and preaches his own view regarding death. He says that it is not terrifying or painful thing as most of us believe. 

The writer actually points out the reasons why the people are afraid of death. He says that the way the children are afraid of darkness, in the same way, the people are afraid of death. But why are the children afraid of darkness? The answer is that the children are told the stories in which they are told that the giants, witches, fairies and ghosts appear at night. Such details create fear in their minds and they are always afraid of death. Similarly, the people also fear death because of two basic concepts. First concept of death is based on religious ideas while the other one is natural concept of death. Religious point of view compels him to think that he is to die and he would be punished and rewarded for his bad or good deeds. Bacon is against this concept. He says that the religious scholars take guidance from religious books and mix them with superstitions. He rejects this concept. The second concept is natural that a man is to die because it is the law of nature. Bacon further says that fear of death in case of natural perspective is sign of being coward.   

What is death according to Francis Bacon and what is more horrifying i.e. death or its concept? Bacon refers to Seneca, a Roman philosopher. Seneca also believed: “It is not death that is terrifying. It is the concept of death that terrifies us.” According to Seneca, the very idea of death is terrifying. Whenever some witnesses someone dying, he is frightened. After his death, his dead body frightens us. The death circumstances and funeral ceremonies are terrifying and enhance the fear of death. 

Bacon then tells us who the brave people and fearless people are. According to the writer, there are some people who are not afraid of death. First one is the person who wants to take revenge. He does not care for his life. The only purpose of his life is to take revenge at any cost. Second one is the person who is a true lover and loves his beloved more than anything else. Third one is a man of honour who prefers death to humiliation. Forth one is the person who is downtrodden. He prefers death to the pain and sufferings. However, in so far as suicide is concerned, he again refers to Seneca who favours suicide in case of being fed up with life or being bored of monotonous life. 

Bacon mentions some brave people from the pages of history. He gives the examples of different persons who remained peaceful and did not show any sign of cowardice at the time of death. Augustus Caesar, a Roman emperor gave compliment to his wife at the time of his death. Vespasian, also a Roman emperor claimed to be god and died. Similarly, Galba, another Roman emperor, sacrificed his life for the welfare of his people without any fear of death. 

Bacon’s suggestion regarding fear of death is that no one should fear death. To support his opinion, he refers to Juvenal, a Roman writer. The fear of death makes a man ready to make preparations for it. A man should remain busy and ignore the idea of death. However, he should focus on doing good deeds. This will give him satisfaction and lessen his fear of death. 

At the end of the essay, bacon tells two of the major benefits of death. He says that the death of a person creates feelings of sympathy for the dead person. His work is appreciated and praised after his death. When he is alive, there are only a few people who appreciate him. Second major benefit of death is that the death of a person removes the feelings of jealousy from the mind and heart of his enemies. He suggests that the fear of death can be overcome but the main thing that can play a vital role in overcoming this fear is the wish to overcome it. If he can wish, he can do it. 

In a nut shell, with the help of knowledge of Roman history and Greek philosophy, Bacon has given solid arguments to prove his point of view. The use of Latin phrases has beautifully been made. The approach of the writer is highly optimistic. He also succeeds in convincing his readers with the details he has presented about death. (Words: 825)