An Analysis of Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography

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Introduction Benjamin Franklin is revered by Americans as one of its most revered and adored founding fathers. For foreigners, Benjamin Franklin became the very icon of America, not only because he was accomplished, but because he was a new man, a man that could only have been made in America. Franklin came to be seen as the embodiment of American values. The image and the values promoted in Franklin's autobiography would later come to be regarded as essential American virtues: determination, industriousness, and self-sufficiency. It was purportedly these virtues which led to his great practical accomplishments in publishing, politics, and science. In a sense, Franklin's autobiography was the first exposition of the now-famous American Dream. Thesis: In his autobiography, Franklin is undoubtedly concerned with developing virtue and self-improvement, but relies on others as the primary frame of reference for his own progress, always measuring himself with others. This habit of comparison results in the development of vices as well as virtues. Background Aims At the start of the First Chapter, Franklin claims to write only so that his own life may be an example for his son of how one can live well and how one can get through hardships. He meant to show"…the conducing means...which…so well succeeded, my posterity…may find some of them suitable to their own situations." Franklin, B. (1909). The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin. (New York: P F Collier & Son Company,
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