Sunday, June 5, 2011

Shakespeare's Imagery - Spurgeon 3 of 10

Dr. Spurgeon’s flawed research on Shakespeare and Bacon images – cont. (3)

 (3) Dr. Spurgeon continues: "Shakespeare visualizes human beings as plants and trees choked with weeds or well pruned and trained. Bacon pictures them in terms of light." 

If Bacon does, he compares Man, just as Shakespeare does, to a tree in the essay Of Death. "Man having derived his being from the earth, first lives the life of a tree, drawing his nourishment as a plant and made ripe for death: he tends downwards and is sowed again in his mother, the earth, where he persisteth not, but expects a quickening." Again Bacon writes "compare men to the Indian fig tree which being ripened to his full height is said to decline his branches down to the earth.”

It is worthwhile to consider this glorious essay, so entirely Shakespearean in thought and expression. Dr. Spurgeon will have noted that like the Indian fig tree "Nature as it grows again towards earth is fashioned for the journey, dull and heavy" (Titus Andronicus, Act II, 2) and, just as Bacon writes "Man is made ripe for death," so Shakespeare tells us "from hour to hour we ripe and ripe. And then from hour to hour we rot and rot"(As You Like It, Act II, 7) and "Men must endure their going hence, even as their coming hither. Ripeness is all (King Lear, Act V, 2). Once more, just as Shakespeare compares our bodies with gardens planted with herbs or weeds (Othello, Act I, 3) Bacon tells us "A man's nature runs either to herbs or weeds." Neither does the identity of visualization, as Dr. Spurgeon calls it, end there. Just as Bacon said that "Man is sowed again in his mother, the earth," Shakespeare makes Charles, the wrestler, ask " Where is this gallant so desirous to lie with his mother earth?" (As You Like It, Act I, 2) The entire eighth paragraph of the essay Of Death, with its seven different images, all appear in one or other of the Shakespeare plays.


  1. Okay, I stop reading here. This comparison is absurd. If you sincerely think the Bacon quote at the top of this section sounds the least but like Shakespeare's prose, even, much less his poetry, then you must be tone deaf. Spurgeon, pedestrian as she was in her methods, had at least the poetic sensitivity to recognize the quickness of Shakespeare's writing that was beyond her quantitative analysis.

    You will be persuaded by what you will be persuaded by, but just drop it and READ this stuff. You can't reduce Shakespeare to Bacon.

    I've read enough. If you had anything meaningful to say, I'd have seen it by now.

  2. Uh, I wrote nothing in this section. It's a reprint from an earlier writing. When I read it I don't try to compare Bacon's Essay writing or his philosophical writings or his legal writings with anyone's dramatic writings or poetry. I don't know why anyone would try to compare the 'tone' or 'poetic sensitivity' in such different mediums. If the early Baconian that wrote the review did so it doesn't mean that anyone else should focus their judgment on that aspect of this evidence.