The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

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In The Autobiography, Benjamin Franklin recounts the many paramount experiences throughout his life that shaped him into great American figure he was known to be. On the opening page, Franklin reveals the book’s epistolary format by writing, “Dear Son,” going on to admit that he’s made some mistakes in the past and to recollect that past is a way to relive it. By divulging his desire to “change some sinister Accidents & Events” (Franklin 3) the author indicates how important it is for his son to observe as he amends his mistakes. Pride, virtue and vanity play a pivotal role in Benjamin Franklin’s life and the way he portrays himself to others. Instances occur where the author is shown gloating about his great accomplishments and he puts emphasis on his need to live a virtuous and morally perfect life. Throughout his story, Benjamin Franklin tells his son of his many virtuous acts and momentous achievements, motivating the question as to whether he seeks his own approval more so than the approval of his peers.

Franklin looks back on his fervent love of books, particularly Dr. Cotton Mather’s Essays to do good wherein the minister preaches about the importance of human courtesy and doing good unto others. He concludes that Dr. Mather’s essays “gave [him] a Turn of

Thinking that had an Influence on some of the principal future Events of my Life” (Franklin 13). By expressing the fact that Dr. Mather’s words played a pivotal role in his ambitions, it creates the assumption that the author’s life has been a quest for self-betterment. Throughout his existence, Franklin recounts his scholarly achievements from learning multiple languages to founding what is now known as a library. Most of all, his entire reason for writing the auto...

... middle of paper ... mistakes and let go of any self-resentment, in the eyes of his son. Though these arguments appear as rebellious against Benjamin Franklin’s hubris or self-endowment, it can also be said that these elements helped fuel his ambition and lead to great discoveries. If Franklin’s infatuation with self-betterment was arguably responsible the creation of so many necessities and components of society today, then no criticism can be dished out – Franklin deals with enough inner critique as it is.

Works Cited

Franklin, Benjamin. The Autobiography. New York: Library of America Paperback

Classics, 1987. Print.

Mather, Dr. Cotton. Essays to do good. London: Williams & Son, 1816. Google Books. Web. 3 Oct. 2011.

Bunyan, John. The Pilgrim’s Progress. London: Dent, 1678. Google Books. Web. 4 Oct. 2011.
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