The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin Benjamin Franklin’s life made a huge impact on the history of America. He also was an influence for many citizens.
Since Franklin lived during the eighteenth century, a period of growth for America, he also played a part in the political founding of the United States. To help future generations, Franklin wrote an autobiography of his life. An autobiography is a piece of literature about someone’s own life. He separates his into four parts, each one depicting a different phase of his life.In The Autobiography by Benjamin Franklin, the author uses his life events to describe values and ways of life that every man should believe and follow.
In part one, Franklin examines his adolescent years. During this time, he apprenticed underneath his older brother. This shows his desire to succeed, a popular quality of his time period. This part of The Autobiography describes his “rags-to-riches story, a chronicle of one man’s rise from pennilessness to power” (Moss and Wilson 26). His story supports the belief that people of that time period were clever and strong-willed.Franklin wrote part one in 1771, and it is the most personal out of the four parts. It talks about his motivations for writing an autobiography and his mistakes and accomplishments.
For example, Franklin wrote part one to provide a model life for his son, William, and future generations. This portion creates an image of a hard working, independent young man for Franklin. This image reinforces the period in which he lived, the Enlightenment period. During the eighteenth century, many men were similar to Franklin; therefore, they had a deep desire for success.Part one focuses mainly on Franklin’s character and its formation.
Through his adolescence and growing into a young adult, he matured greatly. He began his successful career and The Autobiography describes, briefly, his venture into founding the public library in Philadelphia. Overall, Franklin’s first part of his autobiography describes his young life and formation of character (Moss and Wilson 29).
In 1784, Franklin wrote the second part of his autobiography. Part two discusses Franklin’s library work and home life briefly but mainly dives into his virtues and moral beliefs.Compared to many other people of his time period, Franklin had a good home life. This was mostly because he and his wife, Deborah Reed, loved one another.
This was uncommon. At the time, marriage was not as focused on the love between two people as it is now. It was more of a contract. His relationship is briefly described in his autobiography.
However, part two mainly focuses on his virtues, morals, and values. Franklin describes the importance of each of his virtues individually. He includes a “picture of a checklist he used to keep track of his progress to moral Perfection (Moss and Wilson 26).Most of his virtues trace back to the teachings of Socrates. They focus in on morals, religion, honor, and status (Santa-Maria). Even though his virtues focused on religion, Franklin was not very religious.
Rather, he valued Puritan values, such as moderation, industry, and humility. He believed that people should focus on doing good works. This is reflected in his autobiography (Moss and Wilson 23). Another one of his strong beliefs is that in order to achieve liberty, one must follow a strict discipline system.
If one does not follow it, they may become poor (Santa-Maria).This is why he believed that poverty is completely the person’s fault. These beliefs all trace back to the period of Enlightenment and the Age of Reason. Franklin created a “model of the bourgeois American self: someone who is born into poverty and obscurity but who manages through hard work and moral virtue to rise to a position of wealth” (Pannapacker). Many people looked up to him, and this is one of the reasons he wrote his autobiography.
Part two specifically shows how Franklin was an enlightened man and dives into major detail about his morals and his path to moral perfection.Parts three and four are the business portions of The Autobiography. Part three, the longest of the four sections, began in 1788. This portion “marks a gradual change in focus from personal anecdotes and advice on virtue to a comparatively dry rendering of his public activities and Philadelphia’s political concerns” (Moss and Wilson 26). His change in topic, however, is not all boring.
He describes his success in his everyday life. For example, Franklin discusses his jobs and, more in depth, the part he played in the French and Indian War. He also briefly talks about his inventions and experiments with electricity.All of his involvements back up the belief of his being a man of the Enlightenment period. He strived to succeed and never settled for less. This is evident in part four of The Autobiography. Franklin discusses his travels to England, where he acts as a financial advisor (Moss and Wilson 26). Benjamin Franklin’s work The Autobiography uses his life experiences to show the model life and beliefs every man should live by.
Franklin wrote his autobiography to give a model to live by for his son and future generations. Broken into four parts, The Autobiography describes specific life events of Franklin’s life.Part one breaks down his childhood and character. Part two lists the virtues that he followed and why he followed them.
He also briefly mentions his home life with his wife, Deborah Reed. The second half, containing parts three and four, is strictly Franklin’s business life. It describes his political life and his work with inventions and electricity. Benjamin Franklin’s life made a huge impact on America and readers should be grateful that they have the chance to share in his life and accomplishments.
Works Cited Franklin, Benjamin. “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. ” Penguin Edition.The American Experience. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Prentice Hall, 2007.
.Print. Pannapacker, William. “Autobiography. ” American History Through Liturature 1820-1870. Ed. Janet Gabler-Hover and Robert Sattelmeyer.
Vol. 1. Detroit: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 2006. 61-66. Gale US History In Context. Web. Santa-Maria, Philip. “Virtuous victims of an enlightenment paradox.
” Nebula 6. 1 (2009): 66+. Gale Student Resources In Context. Web. Moss, Joyce and George Wilson. “The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. ” Literature and Its Times.
Vol. 1. Detroit: Gale, 1997. 22-29.