Essay on ben franklin's autobiography

What gets lost is the author’s own mixed feelings about single-minded pursuit of profit and his hopes for a humanitarian society in which wealth and power are in balance. “Happiness is more generally and equally diffus’d among Savages than in our civiliz’d Societies,” he wrote in 1770. “…the Care and Labour of providing for artificial and fashionable Wants, the Sight of so many Rich wallowing in superfluous Plenty, whereby so many are kept poor distress’d by Want. The Insolence of Office, the Snares and Plagues of Law, the Restraints of Custom, all contribute to disgust them with what we call civil Society.”

What's more the “purchase [of] a little temporary safety” of which Franklin complains was not the ceding of power to a government Leviathan in exchange for some promise of protection from external threat; for in Franklin’s letter, the word “purchase” does not appear to have been a metaphor. The governor was accusing the Assembly of stalling on appropriating money for frontier defense by insisting on including the Penn lands in its taxes--and thus triggering his intervention. And the Penn family later offered cash to fund defense of the frontier--as long as the Assembly would acknowledge that it lacked the power to tax the family’s lands. Franklin was thus complaining of the choice facing the legislature between being able to make funds available for frontier defense and maintaining its right of self-governance--and he was criticizing the governor for suggesting it should be willing to give up the latter to ensure the former.

Another instance where Franklin points out the importance of appearance takes place in Philadelphia. Upon arrival, Franklin offers to give his shilling away to the people who owned the boat that brought him to his destination. First, they refuse to accept the payment on grounds that he contributed in rowing the boat. However, Franklin "insisted in their taking it, a man being more generous when he has but a little money that when he has plenty through fear of being thought to have but little (19)." It is odd that Franklin uses the word "fear" in describing how he would feel if people believed that he was poor. Again, in this incident, similar to the one before, Franklin expresses his desire for people to have a favorable image of him. A highly esteemed reputation is critical of one's advancement in society and the appearance of being financially secure is the surest way of becoming one. Therefore, people should not only be aware of how others view them, but also be conscious of creating the image that they want for themselves.

Essay on ben franklin's autobiography

essay on ben franklin's autobiography

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