22.1.15

• Character of Desdemona in Othello

  • Character and role of Desdemona in Othello.
  • Is Desdemona a pathetic character rather than tragic? Discuss.
It is very easy, as several recent critics have noted, to canonize Desdemona, a fate rather common to a number of Shakespeare’s particularly appealing heroines. Desdemona, however, is made of stern stuff and not all her characteristics are quite so saintly. This is far from giving credence to Iago’s insinuations. It implies rather that she is human. It is a little too easy to consider Desdemona as not much more than the object of Othello’s love and the victim of the passion. This is ironic, for Desdemona’s chief quality is her independence, a characteristic not uncommon in a number of Shakespeare’s female characters. She is no shy, reticent creature when it comes to standing up for herself before the senators of Venice. We have to consider that she is brought at night to speak for herself and Othello before an angry and distressed father. Her language is firm, temperate and ingenuous. When she says in Act I, scene iii, “My father I do perceive here a divided duty”, we hear also the voices of Portia in the court room at Venice and of Cordelia before her father. It is clear that Shakespeare was much concerned with the divided allegiance between father and husband that a woman has to experience. Cordelia tries to make Lear aware of this ambivalent position of woman but neither Lear nor Brabantio understands the plight of his daughter.
In other ways too, Brabantio is mistaken about his daughter. It is in his speech in Act I, scene iii that we get the first extended description of Desdemona’s character:
“A maiden never bold,
 Of spirit so still and quiet that her motion
                    Blushed at herself.”
But Othello’s account of his courtship offers a glimpse of a Desdemona who has much more spirit and initiative than this, for it is she who invites Othello, questions him about his history and generally takes the initiative in their love-affair. In fact, her oblique hints to Othello about “a friend that loved her suggests that she is not entirely free from feminine wiles, though far from being the “super subtle Venetian” of Iago’s twisted imagination. The moment we see her, we realize that her father has never expected that she is a woman with great independence, determination and courage. The calm logic with which she defends her marriage to Othello is an unmistakable sign of a full, intelligent independent mind. But the penultimate line of her speech to the senators contains a word that takes her a little beyond that: “So much I challenge”—she staking a claim to her ‘rights’ and challenging her father that they are her rights.
            In trying to ascertain how this challenge has arisen, we perhaps discover something less admirable about Desdemona. It is of much less significance now-a-days if a young woman should suddenly and secretly disappear from home, marry and live with her husband. To Shakespeare’s first audiences this must have seemed remarkably remiss, even shocking. It could not be excused as a mere romantic elopement. A modern audience may wonder at charges that Desdemona has been spirited away by magic, love-charms and witchcraft, but to an Elizabethan her action needed some such explanation. If in the late 20th century we pay much attention to Brabantio’s anger, we probably think of it simply in terms of Desdemona running from security of home to Othello’s “sooty bosom”. That is only a lesser reason for Brabantio’s shock. At the time that the play was written, a man with his position in the world would have been astonished at what his daughte4r had done. This lays Desdemona open to Iago’s reminder to Othello, “She did deceive her father”, a warning Brabantio had uttered in the third scene:
“Look to her, Moor, if thou hast eyes to see
She has deceived her father and may thee.”
There can be little doubt that not a few in Jacobean England would have nodded approval. Thus some commentators find together in Desdemona a spirited independence and a certain willful irresponsibility.
            Desdemona, in the tradition of 19th century genteel representativeness best represented by Mrs. Jameson (Shaw’s heroine) can be seen as too innocent, too good to be true. If that does not quite accord with her independence of spirit, it accords even less with her sexuality. It is not unreasonable to suggest that if Desdemona was so ready to run from home into her beloved’s bed, she must have been, like Othello, a passionate creature. She can perhaps be best described as having a strong natural sexuality; there is little doubt that she is sexually attractive to Cassio, Roderigo, Iago and Othello. It is also evident that her independent nature that enables her to relate freely with men. However, this does not mean that one should agree with Dr. Spigack’s odd conviction that Cassio and Desdemona are really in love with each other or Auden’s belief that “given a few more years of Othello and Emilia’s influence, she might well, one feels, have taken a lover”. We know, and, Othello learns too late, that his wife is virtuous; so her pleasures are innocent and they reveal Desdemona as being quite as much as Othello or “a free and open nature.”

            The tendency to see Desdemona as a passive victim rather than as a tragic heroine in her own right depends on our assuming that she is dramatically parasitical on the hero. But as a recent critic, J. Adamson has put it, “the significance of the play is deepened by what it shows her individual inner experience to be—especially what it shows in her love for Othello and her ways of responding to him throughout the action”. When taken as a person in her own right, Desdemona is seen to have a more complex character than she was credited with in earlier criticism. 

27.2.09

Variations in English Prosody


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There are a few variations in English prosody. For the convenience of the readers I explain those briefly below:
  • Spondee: When both the syllables are accented, the foot is called spondee.
Ere ha'lf / my day's / in this / da'rk wo'rld / and wi'de
  • Pyrrhic: When both the syllables are unaccented, the foot is called pyrrhic.
Ere ha'lf / my day's / in this / da'rk wo'rld / and wi'de
  • Catalectic: If at the end of a trochaic line, there is only an accented syllable, it is presumed that an unaccented syllable has been dropped. In this case the foot is called catalectic.
A'll the / jo'ys that / ble'ss thee.
Swee't-er/ fa'r may/ be'.
  • Acephalous: If in the beginning of an iambic line, there is only one accented syllable, it is presumed that an unaccented syllable has been dropped. In this case the foot is called acephalous.
Ha'te/-ful i's/ the da'rk/ blue sky'.
  • Hypermetrical: If at the end of an iambic line, there is only an unaccented syllable, it is presumed that the syllable is extra. In this case the line is called extra-metrical or hypermetrical.
He a'te/ himse'lf / the ri'nd / and pa'r / -ing.

24.2.09

Analysis of Bacon’s Essay "Of Friendship"


THE TEXT
Of Friendship
IT HAD been hard for him that spake it to have put more truth and untruth together in few words, than in that speech, Whatsoever is delighted in solitude, is either a wild beast or a god. For it is most true, that a natural and secret hatred, and aversation towards society, in any man, hath somewhat of the savage beast; but it is most untrue, that it should have any character at all, of the divine nature; except it proceed, not out of a pleasure in solitude, but out of a love and desire to sequester a man’s self, for a higher conversation: such as is found to have been falsely and feignedly in some of the heathen; as Epimenides the Candian, Numa the Roman, Empedocles the Sicilian, and Apollonius of Tyana; and truly and really, in divers of the ancient hermits and holy fathers of the church. But little do men perceive what solitude is, and how far it extendeth. For a crowd is not company; and faces are but a gallery of pictures; and talk but a tinkling cymbal, where there is no love. The Latin adage meeteth with it a little: Magna civitas, magna solitudo; because in a great town friends are scattered; so that there is not that fellowship, for the most part, which is in less neighborhoods. But we may go further, and affirm most truly, that it is a mere and miserable solitude to want true friends; without which the world is but a wilderness; and even in this sense also of solitude, whosoever in the frame of his nature and affections, is unfit for friendship, he taketh it of the beast, and not from humanity.
A principal fruit of friendship, is the ease and discharge of the fulness and swellings of the heart, which passions of all kinds do cause and induce. We know diseases of stoppings, and suffocations, are the most dangerous in the body; and it is not much otherwise in the mind; you may take sarza to open the liver, steel to open the spleen, flowers of sulphur for the lungs, castoreum for the brain; but no receipt openeth the heart, but a true friend; to whom you may impart griefs, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, counsels, and whatsoever lieth upon the heart to oppress it, in a kind of civil shrift or confession.
It is a strange thing to observe, how high a rate great kings and monarchs do set upon this fruit of friendship, whereof we speak: so great, as they purchase it, many times, at the hazard of their own safety and greatness. For princes, in regard of the distance of their fortune from that of their subjects and servants, cannot gather this fruit, except (to make themselves capable thereof) they raise some persons to be, as it were, companions and almost equals to themselves, which many times sorteth to inconvenience. The modern languages give unto such persons the name of favorites, or privadoes; as if it were matter of grace, or conversation. But the Roman name attaineth the true use and cause thereof, naming them participes curarum; for it is that which tieth the knot. And we see plainly that this hath been done, not by weak and passionate princes only, but by the wisest and most politic that ever reigned; who have oftentimes joined to themselves some of their servants; whom both themselves have called friends, and allowed other likewise to call them in the same manner; using the word which is received between private men.
L. Sylla, when he commanded Rome, raised Pompey (after surnamed the Great) to that height, that Pompey vaunted himself for Sylla’s overmatch. For when he had carried the consulship for a friend of his, against the pursuit of Sylla, and that Sylla did a little resent thereat, and began to speak great, Pompey turned upon him again, and in effect bade him be quiet; for that more men adored the sun rising, than the sun setting. With Julius Caesar, Decimus Brutus had obtained that interest as he set him down in his testament, for heir in remainder, after his nephew. And this was the man that had power with him, to draw him forth to his death. For when Caesar would have discharged the senate, in regard of some ill presages, and specially a dream of Calpurnia; this man lifted him gently by the arm out of his chair, telling him he hoped he would not dismiss the senate, till his wife had dreamt a better dream. And it seemeth his favor was so great, as Antonius, in a letter which is recited verbatim in one of Cicero’s Philippics, calleth him venefica, witch; as if he had enchanted Caesar. Augustus raised Agrippa (though of mean birth) to that height, as when he consulted with Maecenas, about the marriage of his daughter Julia, Maecenas took the liberty to tell him, that he must either marry his daughter to Agrippa, or take away his life; there was no third way, he had made him so great. With Tiberius Caesar, Sejanus had ascended to that height, as they two were termed, and reckoned, as a pair of friends. Tiberius in a letter to him saith, Haec pro amicitia nostra non occultavi; and the whole senate dedicated an altar to Friendship, as to a goddess, in respect of the great dearness of friendship, between them two. The like, or more, was between Septimius Severus and Plautianus. For he forced his eldest son to marry the daughter of Plautianus; and would often maintain Plautianus, in doing affronts to his son; and did write also in a letter to the senate, by these words: I love the man so well, as I wish he may over-live me. Now if these princes had been as a Trajan, or a Marcus Aurelius, a man might have thought that this had proceeded of an abundant goodness of nature; but being men so wise, of such strength and severity of mind, and so extreme lovers of themselves, as all these were, it proveth most plainly that they found their own felicity (though as great as ever happened to mortal men) but as an half piece, except they mought have a friend, to make it entire; and yet, which is more, they were princes that had wives, sons, nephews; and yet all these could not supply the comfort of friendship.
It is not to be forgotten, what Comineus observeth of his first master, Duke Charles the Hardy, namely, that he would communicate his secrets with none; and least of all, those secrets which troubled him most. Whereupon he goeth on, and saith that towards his latter time, that closeness did impair, and a little perish his understanding. Surely Comineus mought have made the same judgment also, if it had pleased him, of his second master, Lewis the Eleventh, whose closeness was indeed his tormentor. The parable of Pythagoras is dark, but true; Cor ne edito; Eat not the heart. Certainly, if a man would give it a hard phrase, those that want friends, to open themselves unto, are carnnibals of their own hearts. But one thing is most admirable (wherewith I will conclude this first fruit of friendship), which is, that this communicating of a man’s self to his friend, works two contrary effects; for it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halves. For there is no man, that imparteth his joys to his friend, but he joyeth the more; and no man that imparteth his griefs to his friend, but he grieveth the less. So that it is in truth, of operation upon a man’s mind, of like virtue as the alchemists use to attribute to their stone, for man’s body; that it worketh all contrary effects, but still to the good and benefit of nature. But yet without praying in aid of alchemists, there is a manifest image of this, in the ordinary course of nature. For in bodies, union strengtheneth and cherisheth any natural action; and on the other side, weakeneth and dulleth any violent impression: and even so it is of minds.
The second fruit of friendship, is healthful and sovereign for the understanding, as the first is for the affections. For friendship maketh indeed a fair day in the affections, from storm and tempests; but it maketh daylight in the understanding, out of darkness, and confusion of thoughts. Neither is this to be understood only of faithful counsel, which a man receiveth from his friend; but before you come to that, certain it is, that whosoever hath his mind fraught with many thoughts, his wits and understanding do clarify and break up, in the communicating and discoursing with another; he tosseth his thoughts more easily; he marshalleth them more orderly, he seeth how they look when they are turned into words: finally, he waxeth wiser than himself; and that more by an hour’s discourse, than by a day’s meditation. It was well said by Themistocles, to the king of Persia, That speech was like cloth of Arras, opened and put abroad; whereby the imagery doth appear in figure; whereas in thoughts they lie but as in packs. Neither is this second fruit of friendship, in opening the understanding, restrained only to such friends as are able to give a man counsel; (they indeed are best;) but even without that, a man learneth of himself, and bringeth his own thoughts to light, and whetteth his wits as against a stone, which itself cuts not. In a word, a man were better relate himself to a statua, or picture, than to suffer his thoughts to pass in smother.
Add now, to make this second fruit of friendship complete, that other point, which lieth more open, and falleth within vulgar observation; which is faithful counsel from a friend. Heraclitus saith well in one of his enigmas, Dry light is ever the best. And certain it is, that the light that a man receiveth by counsel from another, is drier and purer, than that which cometh from his own understanding and judgment; which is ever infused, and drenched, in his affections and customs. So as there is as much difference between the counsel, that a friend giveth, and that a man giveth himself, as there is between the counsel of a friend, and of a flatterer. For there is no such flatterer as is a man’s self; and there is no such remedy against flattery of a man’s self, as the liberty of a friend. Counsel is of two sorts: the one concerning manners, the other concerning business. For the first, the best preservative to keep the mind in health, is the faithful admonition of a friend. The calling of a man’s self to a strict account, is a medicine, sometime too piercing and corrosive. Reading good books of morality, is a little flat and dead. Observing our faults in others, is sometimes improper for our case. But the best receipt (best, I say, to work, and best to take) is the admonition of a friend. It is a strange thing to behold, what gross errors and extreme absurdities many (especially of the greater sort) do commit, for want of a friend to tell them of them; to the great damage both of their fame and fortune: for, as St. James saith, they are as men that look sometimes into a glass, and presently forget their own shape and favor. As for business, a man may think, if he win, that two eyes see no more than one; or that a gamester seeth always more than a looker-on; or that a man in anger, is as wise as he that hath said over the four and twenty letters; or that a musket may be shot off as well upon the arm, as upon a rest; and such other fond and high imaginations, to think himself all in all. But when all is done, the help of good counsel, is that which setteth business straight. And if any man think that he will take counsel, but it shall be by pieces; asking counsel in one business, of one man, and in another business, of another man; it is well (that is to say, better, perhaps, than if he asked none at all); but he runneth two dangers: one, that he shall not be faithfully counselled; for it is a rare thing, except it be from a perfect and entire friend, to have counsel given, but such as shall be bowed and crooked to some ends, which he hath, that giveth it. The other, that he shall have counsel given, hurtful and unsafe (though with good meaning), and mixed partly of mischief and partly of remedy; even as if you would call a physician, that is thought good for the cure of the disease you complain of, but is unacquainted with your body; and therefore may put you in way for a present cure, but overthroweth your health in some other kind; and so cure the disease, and kill the patient. But a friend that is wholly acquainted with a man’s estate, will beware, by furthering any present business, how he dasheth upon other inconvenience. And therefore rest not upon scattered counsels; they will rather distract and mislead, than settle and direct.

After these two noble fruits of friendship (peace in the affections, and support of the judgment), followeth the last fruit; which is like the pomegranate, full of many kernels; I mean aid, and bearing a part, in all actions and occasions. Here the best way to represent to life the manifold use of friendship, is to cast and see how many things there are, which a man cannot do himself; and then it will appear, that it was a sparing speech of the ancients, to say, that a friend is another himself; for that a friend is far more than himself. Men have their time, and die many times, in desire of some things which they principally take to heart; the bestowing of a child, the finishing of a work, or the like. If a man have a true friend, he may rest almost secure that the care of those things will continue after him. So that a man hath, as it were, two lives in his desires. A man hath a body, and that body is confined to a place; but where friendship is, all offices of life are as it were granted to him, and his deputy. For he may exercise them by his friend. How many things are there which a man cannot, with any face or comeliness, say or do himself? A man can scarce allege his own merits with modesty, much less extol them; a man cannot sometimes brook to supplicate or beg; and a number of the like. But all these things are graceful, in a friend’s mouth, which are blushing in a man’s own. So again, a man’s person hath many proper relations, which he cannot put off. A man cannot speak to his son but as a father; to his wife but as a husband; to his enemy but upon terms: whereas a friend may speak as the case requires, and not as it sorteth with the person. But to enumerate these things were endless; I have given the rule, where a man cannot fitly play his own part; if he have not a friend, he may quit the stage.
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Critical Appreciation 
Bacon’s Of Friendship
As a pragmatic and as an empirical thinker Bacon followed two fundamental Renaissance principles—Sepantia or search for knowledge and Eloquentia, the art of rhetoric. This explains, to some extent, the impassioned presentation of his ideas and views and the aphoristic style of his writing. But the essay Of Friendship is stylistically somewhat different in that it contains passionate and flattering statements along with profuse analogies and examples in support of his arguments perhaps because this essay was occasioned by the request of his friend Toby Matthew.
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature. First, he refers to Aristotle’s view in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  According to Aristotle, a man by nature and behaviour may be degraded to such an extent that he may be called unfit for society. Again, he may be so self-sufficient that he may not need society.  In the first case, he resembles a wild beast and in the second, he resembles gods. Here it should be pointed out that Bacon is not ruling out the value of solitude; in fact, he is reserving solitude for higher kind of life, which is possible for a few great men like Epimenides, Numa, Empedocles, Apollonius and some Christian saints. Here too Bacon is following Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life:
“It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason. First of all, friendship is necessary for maintaining good mental health by controlling and regulating the passions of the mind. In other words, Bacon here speaks of the therapeutic use of friendship though which one can lighten the heart by revealing the pent-up feelings and emotions: sorrows, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, advice and the like.
Then in order to justify the value of friendship, Bacon points out the practice of friendship on the highest social level. He informs us that the kings and princes, in order to make friends, would raise some persons who would be fit for friendship. Then Bacon tries to glorify friendship by translating the Roman term for friendship, Participes curarum, which means ‘sharers of their cares’. He gives instances of raising of men as friends from the Roman history: Sylla and Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar and Antonius, Augustus and Agrippa, Tiberius Caesar and Sejanus, Septimius Severus and Plautianus. Bacon also refers to what Comineus wrote of Duke Charles the Hardy’s deterioration of his mental faculty just because of his reserve and loneliness and extends his judgement to the case of Comineus’ second master, Louis XI. The point which Bacon strongly wants to assert is that friendship functions for a man in a double yet paradoxically contrary manner: “...it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs”.
The second fruit of friendship, according to Bacon, is beneficial for the clarity of understanding. If a man has got a faithful friend, he can be consulted to clarify the confusions of the mind. He calls the counsel of a friend, citing Heraclitus, “drier and purer” than that a man gives himself out of self love, which clouds his judgement. Bacon then counsel of this sort into two kinds: “the one concerning manners and the other concerning business.” A friend’s constructive criticism of the other friend’s behaviour helps him more than a book of morality. In the matter of conducting practical business, Bacon thinks, a true friend’s advice can also be helpful in undertaking a venture or averting a danger.

Finally, Bacon speaks of the last fruit of friendship, which is manifold in the sense that there are so many things in life, which can be fulfilled only with the help of a friend. In fact, at a rare moment Bacon gets emotional and quotes classical maxim that “a friend is another self”. His point is that a man may have many a desire, which may not be realised in his life-time, but if he has got a true friend, his unfulfilled desire will be taken care of by his friend. Not only this, a friend, unlike the near and dear ones and enemies, can talk to him on equal terms whenever situation demands. Keeping all these things, Bacon concludes that if a man does not have a friend, he may well leave this world. That is to say, he is not fit for the human society to live in. 
Bacon: Questions & Answers 
1.      Discuss Aristotle’s Views on solitude/man as a social animal as quoted by Bacon.
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature. First, he refers to Aristotle’s view in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  According to Aristotle, a man by nature and behaviour may be degraded to such an extent that he may be called unfit for society. Again, he may be so self-sufficient that he may not need society.  In the first case, he resembles a wild beast and in the second, he resembles gods. Here it should be pointed out that Bacon is not ruling out the value of solitude; in fact, he is reserving solitude for higher kind of life, which is possible for a few great men like Epimenides, Numa, Empedocles, Apollonius and some Christian saints. Here too Bacon is following Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life:
“It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason.

2.    What, according to Bacon, are the fruits of friendship?
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature as expressed by him in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  Here Bacon also follows Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life: “It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason. First of all, friendship is necessary for maintaining good mental health by controlling and regulating the passions of the mind. In other words, Bacon here speaks of the therapeutic use of friendship through which one can lighten the heart by revealing the pent-up feelings and emotions: sorrows, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, advice and the like.
Then in order to justify the value of friendship, Bacon points out the practice of friendship on the highest social level among the kings and princes. He informs us that they, in order to make friends, would raise some persons who would be fit for friendship. Then Bacon tries to glorify friendship by translating the Roman term for friendship, Participes curarum, which means ‘sharers of their cares’. The point which Bacon strongly wants to assert is that friendship functions for a man in a double yet paradoxically contrary manner: “...it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs”.
The second fruit of friendship, according to Bacon, is beneficial for the clarity of understanding. If a man has got a faithful friend, he can be consulted to clarify the confusions of the mind. He calls the counsel of a friend, citing Heraclitus, “drier and purer” than that a man gives himself out of self love, which clouds his judgement. Bacon then divides counsel of this sort into two kinds: “the one concerning manners and the other concerning business.” A friend’s constructive criticism of the other friend’s behaviour helps him more than a book of morality. In the matter of conducting practical business, Bacon thinks, a true friend’s advice can also be helpful in undertaking a venture or averting a danger.
Finally, Bacon speaks of the last fruit of friendship, which is manifold in the sense that there are so many things in life, which can be fulfilled only with the help of a friend. In fact, at a rare moment Bacon gets emotional and quotes classical maxim that “a friend is another self”. Not only this, a friend, unlike the near and dear ones and enemies, can talk to him on equal terms whenever situation demands. Keeping all these things, Bacon concludes that if a man does not have a friend, he may well leave this world. That is to say, he is not fit for the human society to live in.

3.      How does Bacon explain the first fruit of friendship?
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature as expressed by him in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  Here Bacon also follows Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life: “It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason. First of all, friendship is necessary for maintaining good mental health by controlling and regulating the passions of the mind. In other words, Bacon here speaks of the therapeutic use of friendship through which one can lighten the heart by revealing the pent-up feelings and emotions: sorrows, joys, fears, hopes, suspicions, advice and the like.
Then in order to justify the value of friendship, Bacon points out the practice of friendship on the highest social level. He informs us that the kings and princes, in order to make friends, would raise some persons who would be fit for friendship. Then Bacon tries to glorify friendship by translating the Roman term for friendship, Participes curarum, which means ‘sharers of their cares’. He gives instances of raising of men as friends from the Roman history: Sylla and Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar and Antonius, Augustus and Agrippa, Tiberius Caesar and Sejanus, Septimius Severus and Plautianus. Bacon also refers to what Comineus wrote of Duke Charles the Hardy’s deterioration of his mental faculty just because of his reserve and loneliness and extends his judgement to the case of Comineus’ second master, Louis XI. The point which Bacon strongly wants to assert is that friendship functions for a man in a double yet paradoxically contrary manner: “...it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs”.


4.    What does Bacon say about the second fruit of friendship?
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature as expressed by him in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  Here Bacon also follows Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life: “It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason.
The second fruit of friendship, according to Bacon, is beneficial for the clarity of understanding. If a man has got a faithful friend, he can be consulted to clarify the confusions of the mind. He calls the counsel of a friend, citing Heraclitus, “drier and purer” than that a man gives himself out of self love, which clouds his judgement. Bacon then counsel of this sort into two kinds: “the one concerning manners and the other concerning business.” A friend’s constructive criticism of the other friend’s behaviour helps him more than a book of morality. In the matter of conducting practical business, Bacon thinks, a true friend’s advice can also be helpful in undertaking a venture or averting a danger.
5.    What does Bacon say about the third/last fruit of friendship?
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature as expressed by him in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  Here Bacon also follows Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life: “It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason.
Bacon concludes the essay commenting on the last fruit of friendship, which is manifold in the sense that there are so many things in life, which can be fulfilled only with the help of a friend. In fact, at a rare moment Bacon gets emotional and quotes classical maxim that “a friend is another self”. His point is that a man may have many a desire, which may not be realised in his life-time, but if he has got a true friend, his unfulfilled desire will be taken care of by his friend. Not only this, a friend, unlike the near and dear ones and enemies, can talk to him on equal terms whenever situation demands. Keeping all these things, Bacon concludes that if a man does not have a friend, he may well leave this world. That is to say, he is not fit for the human society to live in.

Short Questions
1.    Explain the expression “Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god”.
Bacon begins the essay by invoking the classical authority of Aristotle on basic human nature. First, he refers to Aristotle’s view in Politics: Whosoever is delighted in solitude is either a wild beast or a god.  According to Aristotle, a man by nature and behaviour may be degraded to such an extent that he may be called unfit for society. Again, he may be so self-sufficient that he may not need society.  In the first case, he resembles a wild beast and in the second, he resembles gods. Here too Bacon is following Aristotelian view on solitude as expressed in Ethics, where Aristotle prefers a contemplative life to an active life:
“It is the highest kind of life, it can be enjoyed uninterruptedly for the greatest length of time...”
Bacon’s logic is that those who live in society should enjoy the bliss of friendship for more than one reason.
2.    Explain the expression, “Magna civitas, magna solitude”.
In order to justify the value of friendship Bacon brings in the Latin proverb   “Magna civitas, magna solitude”, which means “A great city is a great solitude”. This proverb was coined by a comic poet, who punned upon the name of Megalopolis (a great city) and applied to the city of Babylon as a great city of great desert. Bacon’s point is that in a great city friends are scattered and therefore city life is not favourable for friendship.
  1. What is the meaning of the phrase “participles curarum”? Why does Bacon refer to this?
In order to justify the value of friendship, Bacon points out the practice of friendship on the highest social level. He informs us that the kings and princes, in order to make friends, would raise some persons who would be fit for friendship. Then Bacon tries to glorify friendship by translating the Roman term for friendship, Participes curarum, which means ‘sharers of their cares’. The title was given by the Roman Emperor Tiberius to his minister Sejanus.
4.    “...it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs”. How does Bacon prove this?
In order to justify the value of friendship, Bacon points out the practice of friendship on the highest social level. He informs us that the kings and princes, in order to make friends, would raise some persons who would be fit for friendship. Then Bacon tries to glorify friendship by translating the Roman term for friendship, Participes curarum, which means ‘sharers of their cares’. He gives instances of raising of men as friends from the Roman history: Sylla and Pompey the Great, Julius Caesar and Antonius, Augustus and Agrippa, Tiberius Caesar and Sejanus, Septimius Severus and Plautianus. Bacon also refers to what Comineus wrote of Duke Charles the Hardy’s deterioration of his mental faculty just because of his reserve and loneliness and extends his judgement to the case of Comineus’ second master, Louis XI. The point which Bacon strongly wants to assert is that friendship functions for a man in a double yet paradoxically contrary manner: “...it redoubleth joys, and cutteth griefs in halfs”.
  1. Who was Heraclitus? Why does Bacon quote his saying: “Dry light is ever the best”?
Heraclitus was a Greek philosopher, famous for brief enigmatic sayings. One of his sayings is: “Dry light is ever the best”. Here Bacon calls the counsel of a friend, citing Heraclitus, “drier and purer” than that a man gives himself out of self love, which clouds his judgement. Bacon then counsel of this sort into two kinds: “the one concerning manners and the other concerning business.” A friend’s constructive criticism of the other friend’s behaviour helps him more than a book of morality. In the matter of conducting practical business, Bacon thinks, a true friend’s advice can also be helpful in undertaking a venture or averting a danger.
  1. “...if have not a friend, he may quit the stage”. Why does Bacon say this?

Finally, Bacon speaks of the last fruit of friendship, which is manifold in the sense that there are so many things in life, which can be fulfilled only with the help of a friend. In fact, at a rare moment Bacon gets emotional and quotes classical maxim that “a friend is another self”. His point is that a man may have many a desire, which may not be realised in his life-time, but if he has got a true friend, his unfulfilled desire will be taken care of by his friend. Not only this, a friend, unlike the near and dear ones and enemies, can talk to him on equal terms whenever situation demands. Keeping all these things, Bacon concludes that if a man does not have a friend, he may well leave this world. That is to say, he is not fit for the human society to live in. 

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