Self-Made Man: The Construction of Identity in Franklin's Autobiography - Benjamin Church

American literature essay. Literary analysis of works and characters - Sykalo Evgen 2023

Self-Made Man: The Construction of Identity in Franklin's Autobiography
Benjamin Church

More than just a personal story, Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography is a skillfully constructed self-portrait intended to present Franklin as the archetypal self-made man. Through a literary analysis, this essay will look at how Franklin uses a variety of themes and approaches to create his personality.


Self-improvement: Franklin highlights his dedication to continuously learning new things and trying new things throughout his life. He is portrayed in the story as a committed learner, an avid reader, and an industrious innovator who is constantly looking to increase his knowledge and abilities.
Pragmatism: Franklin's pragmatic and logical outlook on life characterizes him. He stresses the value of diligence, thrift, and prudent risk-taking. His use of reason and reasoning to make decisions demonstrates his independence and self-reliance.
Social mobility: The American ideal of social mobility is embodied by Benjamin Franklin's journey from impoverished apprentice to renowned politician and diplomat. He demonstrates the possibility for everyone to reach greatness regardless of background by highlighting his capacity to overcome obstacles and achieve achievement via self-initiative.
Virtue: Throughout the story, Franklin presents himself as a morally pure person. He highlights his commitment to public service, honesty, and integrity. His status as a deserving role model is further enhanced by this portrayal, which is consistent with the Enlightenment values of reason and virtue.
Literary Techniques:

tales: Franklin makes extensive use of tales to highlight his experiences and highlight his personality. His humor, resourcefulness, and capacity to overcome hardship are frequently highlighted in these tales, which helps to humanize and relatable him.
Self-deprecation: Although Franklin presents a positive image of himself, he occasionally uses calculated self-loathing. His relationship with readers is further strengthened by this strategy, which gives the impression that he is more modest and grounded.
comedy: Franklin's use of comedy gives the story a captivating and enjoyable quality. In addition to adding to the text's enjoyment, his humorous remarks and stories highlight his astute intellect and sharp sense of humor.
Moralizing: Franklin often takes a moment to share moral guidance and thoughts on lessons learnt in life. These sections support his reputation as a knowledgeable and experienced person by providing insightful information for readers to think on.
Evaluation Criticism:

Widespread praise has been bestowed upon Franklin's Autobiography for its captivating story, perceptive observations, and deft self-portraiture. It is still studied and loved by readers all over the world and is regarded as a masterpiece of American literature.

Sustaining Legacy:

The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin has had a significant influence on American literature and society. It helped to create the stereotype of the self-made man, encouraging countless numbers of people to follow their goals and succeed in life with tenacity and hard work. With its ageless teachings on virtue-seeking, personal accountability, and self-improvement, the work is still a great source of inspiration and direction.

In summary:

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin is a brilliant examination of identity formation and self-invention. Through thoughtfully selected insights, anecdotes, and literary tricks, Franklin creates an engaging self-portrait. The book is still relevant to readers today because it provides insightful analyses of the human condition and stands as a powerful example of the potential for personal growth and tenacity.