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Home » » Estimate the growth and the development of English prose in the early 17th Century
The Jacobean Age is a great period of prose writing. The prose writing of this period is highly ornamented, complex and intricate. In other words. it is highly pithy and epigrammatic. But it is increasingly used for practically all purposes for which prose can be used. The tendency towards simplicity and clarity is well marked..It is fast acquiring greater flexibility and realism. In the carly 17th century, the essayists show a clear understanding of the principles of prose and The development of English Prose. The prose grows very near to the speech of daily life in the hands of the dramatists. The pamphleteers also play a very significant role in the development of a modern prose-style. Their prose can rise to the heights of eloquence. It appeals to the imagination and emotion. But it can also appeal to the intellect. Before 1600, it was poor. Whereas its rapid development during the early 17th century is remarkable.


In the Jacobean Age, the most popular exercise of the essayist is the delineation of character. Francis Bacon undoubtedly founds a genre, but he has practically no successors. The character-writers of the early 17th century draw their inspiration from the Greak writer, Theophrastus. They are also indebted to Ben Jonson's theory of humours. On the other hand, Bacon supplies them with the style, concise, pointed and sententious diction. Thus the art of character-writing which remains popular during the greater part of the century is a very strange example of the fusion of various elements. John Earle, Thomas Overbury and George Herbert are the greatest of the writers in this genre. Later in the century, Thomas Fuller is also a remarkable writer of this kind.

Sir Thomas Overbury is known for the twenty one prose sketches. He adds them to the first edition of his poem "The Wife". His characters are much inferior to those of Earle. His style is hopelessly artificial. Because he sacrifices matter to manner, his style abounds in far-fetched and fantastic conceits. In this way, his concern with manner pushes out truth and reality. However, his characters become concrete and solid. We know that almost all the character writers in the Jacobean Age have followed the tradition of Theophrastus. But George Herbert has broken this tradition. Because his work, The Country Parson" does not deal with a number of different characters. The book contains thirty seven essays which have the country parson as the central figure. Each essay deals with a different aspect of his personality. Thus his work has a unity of design.

The Age of Milton is a great age of political and religious pamphlets. The main purpose of a pamphleteer is to convey his point of view of the people or to attack that of his opponents. So pamphleteering encourages simplicity and clarity in expression. It is conducive to the development of a prose style more useful for practical purpose. The pamphleteers of the period  have done a valuable service to the cause of English prose. But their work can hardly be called literature for certain causes. Countless pamphlets are published during the Jacobean Period. Whereas hardly any of them is read today outside the work of Milton. Milton too takes part in the controversies of the day and writes a number of pamphlets. He has written them to support the Republican and Puritan. "Areopagitica is among the immortal classics of English prose.

The Authorized Version of the Bible has the greatest influence that shapes English prose. Its influence has been continuing one. There is practically no writer of English Prose who has not been influenced by it. The Authorized Version of the Bible is the work of forty seven scholars presided over by Bishop Andrews. It is supervised and nominated by James-I. The translators are divided into a number of groups and each group is assigned a particular part. The translation made by each group is revised by the other groups. In this way, the Authorized Bible is the join work of all the translators. Since then this Bible is read in all churches all over the country by king's command.

The influence of the Bible on English language cannot be exaggerated. There are some features of the style of its language. The Bible has sonorous passage of perfect beauty having beauty of the highest poetry. It has a pleasant archaic flavour which differs its prose from other kinds of prose. So it has come to be  regarded as truly religious prose, Use of phrases idioms, turns of speech, maxims and sententious expressions, pithy and concentrated sentences have passed into everyday speech and writing. Use of a wealth of imagery, a host of similes and metaphors based on the common everyday objects of nature are obvious in the language of the version. A lofty and poetic style which has inspired even the ignorant and has impressed all readers.

Thus the growth and development of English prose in the early 17th century can be estimated.. In this discussion, we have attempted to show the contribution to the development of English prose of the character-writers, the pamphleteers and the Bible. We have also tried to bring out fully the influence of the Authorized version of the Bible in the development of modern prose-style. Its influence is not only seen in the use of Biblical idiom and phraseology but also in the frequent allusions and references in the prose writing. We can say that English prose might not have been possible today without the Authorized Version of 1613.

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