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Of Revenge: Francis Bacon’s Optimistic Tale?

Of Revenge: Francis Bacon’s Optimistic Tale?

Revenge and vengeance are basic tools of human instinct. Whether society chooses to accept or blind itself to this fact, it is an indisputable truth. Francis Bacon examines this truth in “Of Revenge”, a view of society and literary characters that reflects the strive for vengeance. However, “Of Revenge” deeply underestimates the corruption of the human spirit and soul. It completely disregards the presence of the basic human instinct which thrives on the manipulation and destruction of others, for the sake of satisfaction. Though Bacon’s inferences to the book of Job or Solomon are perfectly viable to a character that chooses to take revenge after they have been wronged, to believe that “no man does evil just for the sake of evil” annihilates any complete sense of credibility that Bacon’s thoughts imply. The author’s aspirations of the seeking of revenge solely as a means of retribution for oneself, and not to satisfy the evil within the human soul, is a beautiful and idealistic hope which belongs in some earthen utopia. Unfortunately, it has no bearing on the modern world. Though the beliefs of Bacon expressed in “On Revenge” fulfill the traits of characters such as Medea, they neglect the human thrive for meaningless vengeance in characters such as Shakespeare’s Iago.

Euripides’s Medea uses the theme of the search for revenge in order to instigate the downfalls and deaths of many characters. This theme is expressed through the character of Medea, who fits directly into the mold laid out in the guidelines of “Of Revenge”. Medea’s search for revenge commences after her husband, the famous Greek hero Jason, leaves her for…

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…nge” Francis Bacon considers the good and evil sides of man, and thus draws conclusions given the relationship between the good and evil in a character is equal. Therefore, a character such as Medea, who possessed many virtuous qualities, as well as detestable ones, fits the mold of Bacon’s beliefs of the justification of revenge. However, Bacon disregards the fact that in some men, their is more evil than their is good, and the strength and tenacity of that man override moral views. It is this imbalance that leads characters like Iago to do “evil for the sake of evil” and though they are not justified in their search for revenge, they endlessly endeavor to disrupt the natural flow of good to satisfy their evil cravings. Bacon discounts this amoral view of the human race which irrevocably overshadows the conclusions he draws as to the justification of human vengeance.

The Wind in the Willows: Kenneth Grahame and Neopaganism

The Wind in the Willows: Kenneth Grahame and Neopaganism

The beauty of the English countryside–cultivated or wild, pastoral or primeval, it was an endless source of inspiration for eighteenth-century Romantic poets. Such notables as Wordsworth, Keats, and Shelley envisioned ancient and exotic Hellenic gods in familiar, typically British settings. Douglas Bush says of Keats, “For him the common sights of Hampstead Heath could suggest how poets had first conceived of fauns and dryads, of Psyche and Pan and Narcissus and Endymion” ( Pagan Myth 46). Later writers, clearly influenced by the Romantic world view, would describe idealized pastoral scenes in terms of “the rich meadow-grass . . . of a freshness and a greenness unsurpassable . . . . the roses so vivid, the willow-herb so riotous . . .” (Grahame, Wind 911). This was the haunt of Nature personified:

Then suddenly the Mole felt a great Awe fall upon him, an awe that turned his muscles to water, bowed his head, and rooted his feet to the ground. It was no panic terror– indeed he felt wonderfully at peace and happy . . . he looked in the very eyes of the Friend and Helper; saw the backward sweep of the curved horns, gleaming in the growing daylight; saw the stern, hooked nose between the kindly eyes that were looking down on them humorously, while the bearded mouth broke into a half-smile at the corners; saw the rippling muscles on the arm that lay across the broad chest, the long supple hand still holding the pan-pipes only just fallen away from the parted lips; saw the splendid curves of the shaggy limbs disposed in majestic ease on the sward . . . . (912]

Pan’s appearance in “The Piper at the Gates of Dawn” constitutes my most vivid impressio…

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…dence in the Victorian Fin de Siecle . Princeton: Princeton

UP, 1986.

Grahame, Kenneth. Pagan Papers . 5th ed. 1898. London: Lane, 1914.

—. The Wind in the Willows . 1908. Classics of Children’s Literature . Ed. John W. Griffith and

Charles H. Frey. 4th ed. Upper Saddle River: Prentice, 1996. 865-957.

“Grahame, Kenneth.” Yesterday’s Authors of Books for Children . Ed. Anne Commire. Vol. 1.

Detroit: Gale, 1977. 144-153.

Green, Peter. Kenneth Grahame: A Biography . Cleveland: World, 1959.

“Kenneth Grahame.” Children’s Literature Review . Ed. Gerard J. Senick. Vol. 5. Detroit:

Gale, 1983. 109-136.

Sale, Roger. “Kenneth Grahame.” Fairy Tales and After . Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1978. 165-193.

Wullschlager, Jackie. “Kenneth Grahame: Et in Arcadia Ego.” Inventing Wonderland . New York:

Free P, 1995. 143-174.

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