Read below our detailed study guide on the essay “Of Delay” by Francis Bacon. Our study guide covers Of Delay summary and analysis.
Of Delay Summary
Bacon opens the essay with a term “fortune” and associates it with a market, where the prizes might fall if you wait. It is just like nowadays “sale” in a market. But this is not the case every time. Good luck or fortune not always come with delaying. Delaying, sometimes, may also cause a serious loss. To explain the outburst of delaying, he refers to the Sibyl of Cumae, the wisest woman in Italy and her offer to Tarquin the proud. Sibyl offered Tarquin her nine books for sale that he refused. She, then, removed three books and again offered him the remaining six books with the same price that was for the nine books. He again refused to buy them. She, then, remove three more books from and offered Tarquin the remaining three books with the original price. Now, without understanding Sibyl’s demand and haggling, Tarquin bought the three books. These three books were worth reading and were kept with a great care in Rome. These books were accessed time and again in the course of Senate.
Bacon, moreover, refers to Spenser’s description of “occasion” to explain that opportunity once missed cannot get back. Spenser, in his common verse, relates occasion (opportunity) to an old woman, who has one leg. Her hair falls down on her face so that no one can recognize her until she is dead (just like we don’t recognize the opportunity before it is gone); while at the back, she has no hair, so that once she is passed no one can grab her from behind (i.e. we cannot grab the opportunity once it is gone). Bacon argues that opportunity is just like a bottle, better to receive it from handle (to avail the opportunity at the start), the belly come after which is difficult to clasp (delaying an opportunity would make difficulties for us to avail it afterward). He says that the wisdom is only if you avail the opportunities on time.
Furthermore, Bacon argues that nothing in the life is easy coming. One has to face the challenges of life. In order to avail opportunities or desired goals, it is better to face the dangers in the path, rather than watching it from a long distance. Watching challenges from the distance will make you coward, consequently, you will fall asleep. However, it doesn’t mean that one should deceive themselves with the shadows of enemies and shoot them before time (meaning not to act before time or make difficulties for yourself). It is something like early buckling. Both of the situations are the two extreme conditions. One should adopt the mediocre mode, i.e. not delaying thing for a long time and not acting before the time.
The fruitfulness and unfruitfulness of an opportunity (occasion) should be weight before availing it. Before the start, plan well but once you started, get stunning. Bacon relates this phenomenon to Argos, a hundred-eyed monster. Some of his eyes were always awake. Hera appointed him to protect lo. However, he was killed by Hermes. After his death, his eyes were transferred to the tail of peacock that resulted in fifty head Bariareus, with hundred hands.
Bacon ends the essay by advising that once you have made up your mind to do something, do it faster than a bullet before anyone bumps into you and hinders your work. He gives the example of the Pluto’s helmet that makes the wearer invisible. By alluding to this, Bacon argues that one should work as if he is invisible without making anyone aware of it and faster than the bullet before anyone encounters him.
Of Delay Analysis
“Of Delay” is an argumentative essay by Francis Bacon in which he argues about delaying in availing opportunities. He argues that it could be one’s good fortune that by delaying offers he might get the better one at the end but that’s not the case every time. Most of the time, delaying may cause you serious loss.
Of Delay Critical Appreciation:
Bacon wrote this essay with the interest to considerate the reasoning of deliberate delay. Though he alludes to delay with danger, however, he admits the point that some circumstances or states of affairs can be observed with changed significance and priority and evaluate the strength of the delay.
The main resolution of this composition is to consider the expected reactions and outcomes of delays to instruct the readers. Bacon tries to outline the standard for the effects of delay and its consequences, by decoding the man’s mind.
The readers of this essay of bacon would most likely be those who are interested in the attitude of delays. Bacon’s references, in the essays, to mythical personalities, when interpreted by the common community point out this essay is in particular form educated and possibly religious. He, by the use of metaphors that are understandable to an average man, directs the thoughts of ordinary people towards the social status
The positive and negative aspects of delay are best described by the indecisive writing that pre-dominates the style of writing. Through the use of parallel structures in the essay, Bacon builds a balance between his arguments regarding the delay, which indicates that he is neither praising it not condemning it.
Throughout the essay, Bacon’s writing contains a philosophical tone. He, time and again, employs metaphors to fund his wisdom and make his supposition seem precise. Moreover, bacon also personifies the danger to troupe man in contradiction of a figure with delay as the ambition of their assembly.
Bacon divides the essay into four parts, each part refers to some methodical figure. These are as follows
- Wait and things will get worse:
In this part, Bacon refers to the story of Sibyl of Cumae in Italy and her offers to Tarquin. It implies that the offer that offers full commodity at the start, reduced to 2/3 by delay, while it further reduced to 1/3 with the price remained unchanged. Bacon argues that “fortune” is just like waiting in a market, where the prizes might fall if you wait. It is just like nowadays “sale” in the market. But this is not the case every time. Good luck or fortune not always come with delaying. Delaying, sometimes, may also cause a serious loss.
- Time’s bald head:
In this part, Bacon refers to Spencer’s common verse in which he associates occasion (opportunity) to an old woman with one leg. She hangs down her hair on the face so that no one can recognize her until she is dead. Moreover, she is bald from the back that no wan can grab her from the back when she dies. This is a beautiful illustration to explain that no one recognizes the opportunity in the start until it is gone. And the opportunity is bald from the back that after it is gone, no one can grab it from the back.
- Eyes forward:
In this part, Bacon refers to the Argos, a hundred-eyed monster, who was appointed as a guard for Lo. When Hermes shot him, his eyes were transferred to peacock’s tail and it turned to a fifty head Biareus. This symbolizes that before availing opportunity, weigh it. Once you started it, get rocking,
- Work faster than a speeding bullet:
In this part, Bacon gives an example of the Pluto’s helmet that makes the wearer invisible. By alluding to this, Bacon argues that one should work as if he is invisible without making anyone aware of it and faster than the bullet before anyone encounters him.
More From Francis Bacon
- Of Adversity
- Of Ambition
- Of Death
- Of Delay
- Of Discourse
- Of Followers and Friends
- Of Friendship
- Of Great Place
- Of Love
- Of Marriage and Single Life
- Of Nobility
- Of Parents and Children
- Of Revenge
- Of Simulation and Dissimulation
- Of Studies
- Of Superstition
- Of Travel
- Of Truth
- Of Goodness and Goodness of Nature