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The Stylistic Features of Francis Bacon’s Essays

Author RuanYaMei
Tutor LiangZaiMing
School Harbin Engineering University
Course English Language and Literature
Keywords stylistics functional stylistics Francis Bacon Essays
Type Master's thesis
Year 2002
Downloads 628
Quotes 2
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Francis Bacon was the first English essayist, who entitled his collected masterpieces Essays, which arouse wide interest both in the linguistic circles and in the literary circles, such as Of Studies and Of Friendship are well known as his typical masterpieces. Bacon’s essays are noted for being concise, logical and consummate in style.The traditional stylistic approaches focus on the study of the stylistic features on the lexical level, the grammatical level, figure of speech, cohesion and co-context, which can hardly explore all the semantic features of Bacon’s Essays. With the assistance of Halliday’s systemic-functional theory which mainly deals with the internal structure of each clause and also the relationship between clauses, we may achieve a clearer and more systemic illustration about the semantic selection, organization of the construction of Bacon’s essays separately. This thesis provides a detailed analysis of essay, which is the least studied in modern stylistics, in terms of the systemic-functional theory and we try to combine the advantages of these two scientific approaches so as to offer a new perspective and an alternative to the stylistic study of similar literary texts.The thesis can be divided into four chapters. In Chapter One, relevant theories have been surveyed, including the varied definitions of style and stylistics, the four main trends of modern stylistics, a classification of stylistics and then some information about Bacon’s Essays has been presented.Chapter Two deals with the theoretical background of the thesis, which covers three systemic-functional stylistic approaches derived from Halliday’s systemic-functional theory. He believes that all the semantic components within the language system are functional components, which are also called three"metafunctions"-ideational function, interpersonal function and textual function. The ideational function can be realized by the transitivity analysis; the interpersonal function can be realized by mood and modality; and the textual function is realized by the Theme-Rheme structure, the information structure and the cohesion system. The contextual level contains the Field, the Tenor and the Mode, which are corresponding to the three ’metafunctions’ on the semantic level. The semantic choices determine the choices on the grammatical level.Chapter Three applies the checklist of stylistic categories (Leech and Short) as my framework to the study of the stylistic features of Bacon’s Essays, consisting of five categories: Lexical features, grammatical features, figure of speech, cohesion and co-context. First, on the lexical level, we study the relationships between lexical words according to various fields. Second, on the grammatical level, we further discuss the typical sentence structures (Senecan sentence or loose sentence structure) in Bacon’s Essays with the aid of traditional literary approaches. Third, simile and metaphor, parallelism, and inversion are the major traditional stylistic approaches in view of figure of speech which have been generally accepted by the author. Fourthly and lastly, on the level of cohesion and co-context, Halliday’s theories of Theme-Rheme, and the Thematic Progress have been put forward for the analysis of Bacon’s Of Studies as a sample.This thesis is a tentative effort to understand and appreciate the essays of Bacon from a new perspective and it will hopefully contribute to a better appreciation of literary texts of similar style.

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