Ben franklin autobiography Essay

This essay has a total of 934 words and 4 pages.


ben franklin autobiography




Ben Franklin is one of the most dynamic figures in the history of America. As a
philosopher, scientist, writer, inventor, diplomat, and more he had far reaching effects
on America and the world both in his time and today. Franklin was one of the first people
to recognize himself as "American" and distinguish the people of the new nation as
something more than British colonists. As an American, Franklin sought to improve the
country through the creation of institutions and the development of personal moral and
financial success for its citizens.

GENRE:Autobiography, Personal Narrative
In the first part, Franklin is speaking to his son, describing the past. He talks about
his childhood, family, upbringing, and general manner in business and life. In the second
part, he is more conscious of the larger audience and there is a definite change in tone.
He seems more pretentious as he discusses his quest for "moral perfection" through
thirteen self-defined virtues, library system, religious views, and more. Franklin was
influenced by Enlightenment thinking and writers such as Cotton Mather whose book
Bonifacius: An Essay Upon the Good discusses coexistence between different groups and
going out to good in society. In many ways, the autobiography work can be seen as the
first self-help book. Franklin wants to be seen as a normal everyday kind of person who,
through hard work, perseverance, and luck, brought himself up to a high level of personal
achievement. This contrasts the styles of Mary Rowlandson and Frederick Douglass who
prefer to lay out their experiences and allow the reader to react to the situation. There
are some interesting postings addressing these issues: one by me on Franklin, one by Tony
comparing Rowlandson, and two comparing Frederick Douglass, also by Tony and I.

THEMES:
1.) Religious Pragmatism: Franklin develops his own morals based on what he feels will
bring the most good to society as a whole - doing good to your fellow man. In this way, he
sees religion not as an abstract or other-worldly social concept but as a function of
society for its utility and usefulness. He does believe in G-d and thanks him for all that
he has received but, similar to Frederick Douglass, is aware of the falsehoods being
taught in mainstream religion. For instance, he describes a local ministers sermons as
"their aim seeming to be rather to make us Presbyterians than good citizens." Although he
did not believe in any one religion, he did feel that they were good for the community and
actively supported the Presbyterian minister, Jewish temples, and other groups.

2.) Industry/Self-Improvement: Franklin often can be seen assuming that any effort will be
successful if the proper amount of hard work is applied to it. He was, however, aware that
he had been very lucky and that few efforts would reach fruition without some effects of
luck. It is interesting to see how at every turn Franklin had some sort of system or
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