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"Having emerg'd from the Poverty and Obscurity in which I was born and bred, to a State of Affluence and some Degree of Reputation in the World, and having gone so far thro' Life with a considerable Share of Felicity, the conducing Means I made use of, which with the Blessing of God so well succeeded, my Posterity may like to know, as they may find some of them suitable to their own Situations, and therefore fit to be imitated."
Benjamin Franklin's autobiography is a draft chronicling his life; he was as a printer, author, statesman, patriot, scientist, inventor and diplomat despite that he attended school only until the age of ten. But he labored constantly to improve his mind and character. He was one of those who influenced the 18th century world. It was published in French and English language over several years. Franklin's autobiography is a literary triumph which makes him US founding father. Franklin initially had intended that his autobiography would be a source of inspiration and lesson for his own son, William. Different parts of the autobiography were written in different years. The first part which addresses his son was written in 1771, while the remaining parts written in 1784, 1788, and 1790 respectively reflects its subject's expectation to touch a wide range of addressees and that it would benefit his audience in later periods of time.
It would not be an exaggeration saying that this historical account of Franklin served as a virtual guideline to being righteous not for eighteen century but would be for coming decades as well. Franklin's autobiography is certainly considered one of the "conduct books" written by various literate prior to him. His writing style was frank which points out a simple person behind that persona. He was contented with his achievements and life and never wished to have a new life rather he used to mention often that he would prefer same life again if given the option. He strived to achieve moral perfection in his life which is what he intends to articulate to generation in his autobiography.
Franklin presents his story as an illustration of self-improvement by also recalling his own father's ways of making him learn. He was inspired by his father and his life style. In his writings Franklin has mention about his father that he always used to converse with learned and wise people. He'd always observed his father conversing about constructive topics to make his children learn good, productive things and conduct of life. This life style of his father helped Franklin improve a lot morally as well as mentally.
Literary critics have been criticizing Benjamin Franklin in different ways. But no one can disagree Franklin's Autobiography has received extensive reading and praise in the world of literature. The author in fact attempts to articulate his understanding or beliefs of the social behaviors through his autobiography and wishes his readers to comprehend them in the light of their own observations and experiences. Franklin presents his story of struggle, failures and success he'd in his life as a lesson to its readers. It intends to articulate triumph could be achieved by anyone with adequate and incessant struggle.
Franklin was one of the most well-known people in the world during his lifetime due to the diversity of his interests and flairs and he has remained famous however; the reason for his fame has shifted over the centuries. He knew and had experienced the importance of self-improvement therefore, the whole account of his is meant to edify his son in particular and generations in general. Franklin intends to tell his readers that if you inculcate the practice of self control in terms of having a balanced mind with objectivity and positive approach, you are actually making a pre-emptive strike on the ills of society which have not been born yet.
In the scribe's opinion his own sufferings and hardships motivated him to write this autobiography. He'd hard times to explore the world and he experienced a lot to get a standing in his life. He intended to teach his son and he knew the importance of writing all this furthermore, he wanted to write for the generations to come. He was certainly a man of wisdom due to which he enlightened himself without formal education. He'd explored the world through various aspects.
The scribe believes he was certainly successful in articulating the lesson of self-improvement not only to his son but to future generations as well. Prove of his success is acknowledgment of his wisdom even today establishes the fact that he was a great literary figure in the world. There are few points of misunderstanding Franklin's wisdom in the book. Like at some points he appears to be restricted to his own time rather being universal. In the scribe's opinion such points are just the intricacies of his expression. Such points in his account have been criticized differently but not his wisdom certainly. As Ormond Seavey comments:
"Other writers of autobiography have been overtly aware of the character of their times as they wrote-Gibbon, Wordsworth, and Henry Adams, for example. For Franklin the age is almost entirely excluded from consideration. He was not disposed in the AutobiographyÂ to treat the eighteenth century as a distinctive period, burdened with its own limitations and proclivities. He was conscious all along of addressing posterity; he would be read not by his contemporaries but by the unforeseeable future. So he was unwilling to suggest that there have been large differences from one historical period to another, for fear of being trapped in a period himself." (University Park and London: Pennsylvania State UP, 1988).
Franklin may still not be regarded as being among America's very greatest literary men by some critics, yet his writings will surely still be read and studied for many years to come. The Autobiography has in recent years come to be valued more for its intricacies, and its playful use of language and persona, than for its apparently straightforward story of the rise of a self-made.
A comprehensive and careful study of the Autobiography of Franklin concludes that he was very effective in his ways. He definitely inspired the generations to come. The acknowledgement of his services is an evidence of his success in this attempt of helping others in self improvement. It is also very clear that his own struggle was the motivation behind this act of sharing his experiences so that others could improve. His ways may be criticized, his approached may be discussed, but definitely he can not be called a person who was just trying to promote himself.