garger ben franklin essay

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					Amanda Garger
AP Lang&Comp pd. 1
Mrs. Davis
March 7, 2008

          Ben Franklin. A famous American who has lived through generations in infamy with his many contributions

to society, both in the fields of science and politics. When most people think of Mr. Franklin, a noble American with an

impressive list of experiences and accomplishments come to mind. What is almost always overlooked, however, is

Benjamin Franklin’s true personality and character. Throughout his life, Franklin always had to be the center of

attention and get all the credit for everything, and would stop at nothing to make sure that he was put on a pedestal

and praised for his amazing ways. From the very beginnings of this autobiography, Franklin shows that he is all about

himself by including an acrostic poem of his name with descriptions that display just how wonderful he thinks he is.

Although he is often praised by society and liked to think of himself as a model citizen, endless instances and facts

contained in his autobiography show that Franklin was both egotistical and had the notion that he was greater than all


          Ben Franklin’s egotism can be best portrayed through his use of anaphora in his autobiography. Although

an autobiography is written in first person and is about the author, it is clear to the reader that Franklin goes out of his

way to include the words “I” and “me” as many times as possible, if not more. On page 285 alone, Franklin uses the

word “I” an astonishing 34 times. Even for an autobiography that is extremely excessive. “When I disengaged myself,

as above mentioned, from private business, I flattered myself that, but the sufficient tho’ moderate fortune I had

acquired, I had secured leisure… I purchased…” (181). As if that isn’t enough, in the same paragraph, only one

sentence later, Franklin goes on to write “The Governor put me into the commission of the peace; the corporation of

the city chose me of the common council and soon after an alderman; and the citizens at large elected me a burgess

to represent them in Assembly” (181). There are many, many other ways in which Franklin could have phrased these

sentences. Instead of simply explaining what happened, he was quick to make sure that he was able to slip his own

pronoun in as much as he could, showing his self-centeredness and egotism. In writing his autobiography, he is quick
to point out every small accomplishment he has achieved in his lifetime in order to make sure that readers fully

understand his greatness.

         Although Ben Franklin tried to come across as a common man and appeal to all people, his writing style in

his autobiography shed light to the fact that he deemed himself superior to almost all other beings. On numerous

occasions he gives his accounts of different events and opinions on subjects so direct and to the point that it is

obvious that he wants readers to think that he is the ultimate authority. Argument from authority is abundant

throughout the writing, and it can easily seen that Franklin feels that he is the superior figure and go-to man for all

subjects of life. When discussing his virtues, Franklin goes into detail about each one and how he feels they should

be carried out. After talking about Temperance, he writes “I hope, therefore, that some of my descendants may follow

the example and reap the benefit” (154). The example he is talking about, obviously, is his own. In this case, as well

as many others in the autobiography, Franklin takes it upon himself to basically be the person who knows everything

and who all people should turn to for wisdom and guidance. In one part of the autobiography, Franklin goes into

detail about how to prevent house fires, thinking that he is a form of authority on this simply because he wrote a

paper about it that happened to be published. A publication of a paper is in no way regarded as a sense of authority

by any means. “…this was much spoken of as a useful piece, and gave rise to a project which soon followed it of

forming a company for the more ready extinguishing of fires…” (166). Franklin draws the conclusion that this success

came solely from him writing a paper which was published, which is in no way accurate. These statements Franklin

makes in his piece show his readers the true sides of him, and the fact that he views himself as the superior figure to

all can clearly be seen.

         In hoping to convey his lavish and extraordinary life to everyone possible, Ben Franklin actually harmed his

reputation by writing his autobiography. Once viewed as simply a contributor to American culture, the autobiography

exposed his true character, causing his readers to feel distant and less connected with him as a person. What is

possibly most upsetting is the fact that he tries hard to make himself sound like the perfect person, making himself

appear relatable to all, but he actually shows that he is a self-centered and demoralizing human being. His unending
attempts at making himself the better person in all cases and making sure every single one of his achievements is

glorified shows his true self, a person not very appealing to anyone.

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