Saturday, August 27, 2011

Benjamin Franklin Autobiography

Beginning with chapter one of the autobiography, Benjamin Franklin makes it very clear that he is writing his story in order to better the lives of others around him.  He makes this very clear in paragraph two.  I found it interesting that in paragraph three Franklin states that he doesn't want to burden others with the recollection of stories like so many elderly people feel entitled to do.  I also really enjoyed his opinions on vanity but wondered what he meant when he said "vanity can sometimes benefit others in their sphere of action?"  It is also important to note that in paragraph four he credits everything good that has happened in his life to God and he has faith that he will continue to bless him to the end of his life.
In the last four paragraphs, it is evident that Franklin is a physically durable and strong person.  Transportation during this time period was evidently hard to come by and very time consuming but Franklin seems to roll with the punches so to speak, and get to Philadelphia with his social connections.  All throughout the last four paragraphs, there are obvious connections to the Sotweed Factor and the fear of social disapproval.  In the second to last paragraph, Franklin specifically mentions to fear of being suspected as a runaway servant.  Also in this paragraph, Dr. Brown is introduced which is important because he has completely different views than Franklin when it comes to religion yet Franklin stayed friends with him until the end of his life.  Franklin is obviously somewhat open-minded and accepting of different views.  People are also very trusting and hospitable which is evident in the third to last paragraph.  At this point I was wondering why he was traveling to Philadelphia but I discovered in the second chapter that he was looking for work and possibly running from something in Boston which is referenced in paragraph eight of chapter two.  In chapter two we also find out that Franklin finds work with two different printers through his connections in society.  He is very critical about Keimer's work (Keimer is one of his bosses) and the way he runs his business.  It is also important to note that families in this time period were loyal to each other (Robert Holmes in paragraph 8) but only when they looked the part (paragraph 1).
Chapter six is different that the other chapters.  The speaker obviously thinks very highly of Franklin and his life.  He thinks that his autobiography will help and influence lots of people especially the youth of the time.  I assume that Benjamin Vaughan is the publisher assigned to Franklin's work?  Vaughan definitely approves of the publishing and thinks that his autobiography is a perfect representation of the times and society as a whole.  He thinks that Franklin will influence in order to make wise men with characteristics that include frugality, diligence, and temperance.  Throughout, he encourages him to be genuine and honest in his writing in order to have a worldly influence through his writing.  It is important to note that books during this time period were hard to come by and were more like stocks in the stock market with investors (Mr. Charles Brockden).  It is obvious through the speaker's respect for religion and virtues, that he wants to obtain the perfect character (The Act of Virtue).  It also important to note that the discussion of pride in the last paragraph of chapter six ties in nicely with Franklin's discussion of vanity in chapter one.


  1. Looks good so far! Nice use of specifics in your notes. What did you find most interesting in this reading? Why?

  2. The thing I found most interesting about Franklin's autobiography was the way society is depicted in his writing. It's ironic how they could be so hospitable and so cold and unwelcoming at the same time. Strangers were giving Franklin a place to stay and food to eat and yet were judgmental about his appearance asking if he was a runaway. It seems as if they were willing to be giving as long as it did not hurt their reputation. It would obviously not look good if someone was found to be housing a runaway. People in this time period were obviously consumed with the way others viewed them. I think we are still like that today as a society but we are not as obvious about it. We pretend to not care what others think of what we do, the way we dress, act, etc. but inside we do desire society approval just like Franklin's society did.

  3. I have to agree with your statement, about Franklin being an strong character. I think a lot cna be learned, by just reading about him.