September 23, 2016
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This paragraph exemplifies how law can be affected by religious beliefs. Franklin explains, “but there were now great objections to our union… this could not easily be prov’d, because of the distance”. Since they cannot prove that Deborah Read’s first marriage is invalid, they cannot get married in a church, but instead have a civil ceremony. Although religion is still prominent at the time, Franklin differentiates religion and the church and that they are not mutually exclusive.
I find it interesting that even though church and the law are separate, their marriage was still affected. The church would not allow them to get married because there was no proof that Deborah Read’s first marriage was invalid. However, they still got married, they just were not able to marry inside a church. It is interesting that even thought the church did not want to allow them to get married, they still ended up married.
Data Visualization for Franklin.
I think this paragraph is a great example of the difference between puritanism and the growing popularity of natural philosophy and rationalism. It shows us that the differences were not just in spiritual ideals, but secular and social as well. Puritans wouldn’t have allowed their to be taught mathematics, navigation, geometry, or any science similar to these things, but Franklin sought these things out on his own. He also began reading many philosophical texts, which would have been unacceptable by the puritans. The only philosophy allowed by the puritans was what came from the Bible itself. I thought this part was just a great example of how different the cultures and education of puritans and rationalists were.
This passage illustrates Franklin’s Puritan upbringing. His father warns him against exploring the sea (which could be seen as declension), but Franklin also mentions his desire for it again and again. There is a strong sense of duty to religion, a strong sense of piety, but there is also presence of Individualism. Franklin wants individual success through knowledge. He is curious, and I think there is a strong undertone of Franklin’s secular rationalism in his writing.
This paragraph stuck out to me particularly because it is a prime example of the American Dream, or the Rags to Riches motif. Franklin states regarding his first entry into the city, “I was in my working Dress…I was dirty from my Journey” (NAAL 553). It’s clear when that when Franklin entered the city, he did not have a lot of money. He was ragged, tired, and it’s clear he didn’t know much about the city, since he says he “knew no Soul, nor where to look for Lodging” (NAAL 553). Franklin was not only ragged, but coming to a place he wasn’t familiar with in the hopes of finding a better life. This is a perfect example of how the American Dream begins. People come to America with nothing, hoping to gain something.
Franklin looked so ragged that even the people on the boat didn’t want to take his money for his trip. Franklin insisted on their taking it, as he said, “A man being sometimes more generous when he but a little money than when he has plenty” (NAAL 553). Franklin points out an important message here–a man with next to nothing being generous often means more than a man with an excess of money being generous.
It’s clear as we read on that Franklin does become more successful, which is why his story embodies the American Dream. This description of where Franklin was shows just how far he came. At this point where he described his trip, he had nothing, and yet he gains so much as he goes on. He truly embodies the American Dream and the motif of Rags to Riches.
[So I might, besides correcting the faults, change some sinister accidents and events of it for others more favorable.]
This is Benjamin Franklin’s first mention of the acknowledgement of the errors or faults in his life that he will go one to point out as “Errata”, which the text has defined as, “Printer’s term for errors” (550). Franklin’s awareness of his failings throughout is very interesting to me considering how in the next paragraph Franklin invokes the notion of Providence. Later on in his text we see Franklin grapple with deism so it is very intriguing to see how both belief systems, deism and Puritanism, compel him.
I agree. Benjamin Franklin seemed to be all over the place, exploring many different things. I think he appeared this way because of his (maybe) curious nature. Aside from him being a founding father of our country Franklin was known for is experiments (lighting and the kite) and his inventions( bifocals). To be able to think “outside the box” one needs to see and follow different beliefs than those around them. In acknowledging his failures, it let him find new ways and beliefs to guide his life.
This passage is interesting because, to me, it describes much of what we see throughout history when it comes to humanity. More specifically and pertinent to our class discussion, I would say that we can see the proof of Franklin’s words in most of the readings we have gone over this semester. When the author says, “So convenient a thing it is to be a reasonable creature, since it enables one to find or make a reason for everything one has a mind to do” the point is an easily proven one. In the two major groups we have studied, the Puritans and the Deists, it is clear how the authors of those groups are able to mold “reason” into what it is they think should be supported and upheld.
[ I found this method safest for myself and very embarrassing to those against whom I used it; therefore I took a delight in it, practis’d it continually, and grew very artful and expert in drawing people, even of superior knowledge, into concessions, the consequences of which they did not foresee,]
This passage caught my attention as I feel that it really highlights the connection between self-improvement and the American Dream. Without Franklin’s determination to improve his education, he most likely wouldn’t have been as successful as we know him to be. The American Dream is about success from hard work, and though there are numerous passages where Franklin talks about improving one of his skills, the voracious nature of this specific passage truly highlights the dedication needed to achieve the Dream.
In this excerpt Benjamin Franklin acknowledges God’s absolute Sovereignty for his life accomplishments. He says, “And now I speak of thanking God, I desire with all Humility to acknowledge, that I owe the mention’d Happiness of my past Life to his kind Providence, which led me to the Means I us’d and gave them success” (539). I find this statement humbling and somehow surprising because he was a representative figure of the Enlightenment movement. However, he still believed that men are dependent upon God. This frame of reference is credit to his Puritanical up-bringing. I got the impression that as he got older, his faith did not deviate much from the Puritan influence, as he hopes God continues blessing him in his future endeavors. He states, “In whose Power is to bless to us even our afflictions” (539). This statement reminds me of Mary Rowlandson’s Puritanical views on affliction and redemption.
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I agree with your points, it is surprising to see him thank god and introduce the idea that Humanity is in debt or should praise God. It is a surprising gesture because he was a bog part of the enlighten movement. The acknowledgment of God isn’t contradictory but it does come as a surprise because of the shift from religious based ideology to more of a scientific ideology that led to people believing in science and not so much religion.
[I began to suspect that this doctrine, tho’ it might be true, was not very useful]
This is a very interesting and significant formulation, when you consider perspectives we’ve been studying since the start of class. First, it illustrates the enlightenment-era concept of utility as a measuring standard for value. Everything is to be judged according to its practical results in the world. Second, utility trumps truth as a standard for living–even religious truth. The traditional puritan perspective would have held that truth is everything, and that believers must reconcile their lives and behavior to it regardless of inconveniences and hardship. Franklin’s enlightenment attitude, by contrast, illustrates how forcibly materialistic conditions and destiny have assumed preeminent importance in American life. Finally, whereas Franklin is demonstrating significant enlightenment values with this statement, it is interesting to note that he is leveraging them against Deism on account of its moral deficiency, as he sees it. That moral impulse comes from his puritan upbringing, showing here a fascinating fusion of Puritanical and Enlightenment-era sensibilities.
This paragraph highlights the character and person of Mr. George Brownwell. Benjamin Franklin obviously thinks quite highly of him as he goes on about him for quite awhile. The way he describes him is quite poetic and is something that is worth highlighting. He talks about the constitution of his body, his stature, how he was strong and smart and was skilled in many aspects. It honestly seems if Franklin is fawning over this other man as if he was a schoolgirl fawning over her new crush.
I found this paragraph to be extremely interesting, because we get to listen to Franklin talk about God and religion from a more critical point of view. In contrast with past authors we have studied and their views and responses to God, this passage seems rather aloof and impersonal. Even by saying that it was “the kind hand of Providence, or some guardian angel, or accidental favorable circumstances and situations” that kept him safe in his youth and omitting the term ‘God’ from the conversation completely, gives us a clearer picture of the changing views of God and his involvement with the world. Morals are present, but are entirely focused on the individual with no regard to other forces: “actions might be forbidden because they were bad for us, or commanded because they were beneficial to us”. Instead of saying that actions are good or bad because God says so, Franklin changes the tone to focus on the results those actions have on us as humans and in doing so, begins to steer the ship of his own religion straight towards deism and the view of an absentee God.
I like this comment because he is judging the Pope’s words in the last paragraph and is clearly doesn’t believe in his words. This would be going against his raised belief in Puritanism. It shows his individualism and confidence in himself to say something so publicly against the Pope. Although he backtracks and realizes he shouldn’t rush to judge people, he still leaves it in his writing. It shows a bit of his rationalism in this text.
Right from the beginning, Benjamin Franklin in his Autobiography begins to construct the first and second principles of the American Dream: from rags to riches and self-realization. He rose from a state of peril that was cast upon him at birth and became enlightened and independent through his own hard work. Franklin starts his autobiography with a strong opening paragraph that establishes his firm beliefs in the American Dream and Individualism.
This part particularly stood out to me because I feel it exemplifies who Franklin was as a deist man through his upbringing. Ben wrote the “By constant labor and industry, / with God’s blessing, / They maintains a large family / comfortably” (NALA). He first praises the hard work then God. The natural philosophy of viewing God as a clock maker is seen in the statement. God blessed them for their hard work, Franklin notes, but it was their hard work and “industry” that made them so successful. Franklin also describes his father as “Pious and prudent”. To me this means that he was a vastly religious man, but did not think much about the future because God’s plan was going to happen not matter what, and he would be okay with those outcomes. Due to this upbringing I believe Franklin was able to sell his idea of the American Dream even more. He too believed that God had created this world and the machines in them and it would only benefit the people.
I find this passage interesting because it is unclear whether Franklin actually believed that women were equal in terms of “their abilities for study” or if he merely took this stance to be part of “dispute’s sake”. I personally like to think that Franklin was a believer in education for women, and his witty writing style seems to come out here as he only says, “perhaps a little for dispute’s sake”. I believe that he is somewhat messing with his readers during this section. The way he phrases this sentence, using the word perhaps as if he is unclear why he chose this opinion to argue, as well as saying a little, which kind of confirms that at least part of him truly believes that women are capable of study and education. It is also interesting how the writing and articulation here seems to be the focus rather than the argument itself.
I agree. It starts off as a letter to his son and constructs his ideas of what America was supposed to become. Immigrants came to america to escape poverty and persecution. This is what caused the English to come to America back when “the pilgrims” landed here. It is great to know that his ideals are what America came to be.
This paragraph was of interest to me because of the various references to title and position. It is clear in this time period title and position really play a large part in the respect and development of a person. It shows how important it is for a man to have respect for his craft and hone his skills, and due to fewer people present it is clear how important family names are as well. This is in contrast to Puritan times in which a person’s spiritual position was more important than their craft or professional position or family title.
Forde notes that Benjamin Franklin has had many critics that say Franklin was morally shallow and self-serving. He feels that while Franklin’s autobiography was written in part to provide a model for democratic culture, he still feels that it also provides moral teaching. If one pays closer attention to the text, they will reveal a subtle and multilayered moral teaching, that most people miss. As America was a newly emerging nation with a unique culture he presented his autobiography to appeal to the most varied and wide audience, and this autobiography was meant to elevate them in a way that most benefited them. He even mentions that Franklin took on the subject of religion. “This does not mean that Franklin is pushing his readers to irreligion, however; for another of the key lessons of the Autobiography is that religion can and should be reasonable. Franklin pointedly approves of the Dunkers, a sect that refused to publish its doctrines, on the grounds that they might later have to be changed.” (365) Forde notes in his conclusion that the autobiography is not a biography in the rigorous sense but an effort to shape America like he made himself-combining virtue and prosperity while contributing to society with benevolence and charm.
Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR,
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April 27, 2018 at 1:25 pm
See in context
March 20, 2018 at 10:33 am
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April 30, 2018 at 10:35 pm
In Charles Brockden Brown’s article, “The Difference between History and Romance” he writes about the novel, Wieland, and the relationship that the novel has between history and romance. He explains how history and romance are intertwined and how imperfections of man are part of our future, present, and past. In this paragraph, Clara is overtaken by her senses of this man, “I count among the most extraordinary incidents of my life”. Clara is an irrational character taken over by romantic ideas. Her history and her future are based on her emotional decisions. There is no separation between the two. Brockden Brown writes, “when busy in assigning motives to actions, are not historians but romancers.” Which relates directly to what is happening to Clara in this passage. When talking about history, it is the “noting and recording of the actions of men” which I think is very important because mankind is often if not always driven by passion and emotion. This also plays well with the strong theme of passion and emotion that is current throughout Wieland and all the characters.
Barnard, Philip, and Stephen Shapiro, editors. “The Difference Between History and Romance.” Wieland or the Transformation, with Related Texts, by Charles Brockden Brown, Hackett Publishing Company, Inc., 2009, pp. 195–198.
April 27, 2018 at 11:10 pm
This passage is very focused on individualism, Franklin seems to be looking at the better things in his life instead of focusing on the negative. He doesn’t dwell on the idea that he wish he lived life without committing fault instead he touches on it and shifts into how he’s basically glad with how he’s lived life. In “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” Steven Forde presents the idea that Franklin Autobiography should be used as a model of developing good character and morals. Franklin states, “conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection”, but soon realizes that he had, “undertaken a task of more difficulty than he had imagined.” Forde believes, “each of the loopholes… is deliberate”. The loopholes represent another idea, that being that when striving for greater morality the individual must also take all aspects of life in consideration and be reasonable. Forbes introduces another idea, “If Franklin had viewed virtue more strictly, he might have been forced to give up on it”.
Forde, Steven. “Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and the Education of America.” The American Political Science Review, vol. 86, no. 2, 1992, pp. 357–368. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/1964225.
April 27, 2018 at 4:40 pm
In her article “What’s Wrong With Charlotte Temple” Marion Rust addresses Charlotte’s passions as well as her inability to make decisions and relates it to her overall fall from her position in society. Rust uses this paragraph as an example of Charlotte’s indecisiveness. Here it is exemplified that Charlotte can’t even make a simple decision on her own. She has to reach out to her mentor in order to decide what to even do with something as simple as a written letter. Rust catapults off this point by claiming that Charlotte’s future will continue to be unguided and spiral downward farther than she already has. Rust bases this claim on the idea that Charlotte will not be able to support herself because she is always looking to some one outside herself to guide her through obstacles.
Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/3491497.
April 27, 2018 at 4:16 pm
Andrew Scheiber’s article “The Arm Lifted against Me”: Love, Terror and the Construction of Gender in “Wieland” explores Clara’s gendered role in Charles Brockden Brown’s Wieland. Scheiber points to patterns of Clara’s marginalization and enclosure throughout the story, specifically in relation to her role in the context of the familial structure of the story’s plot. Scheiber explains that, “though the Age of Reason invites her to identify herself with the life of the mind, Clara is barred by her womanhood from fully achieving such an identification, since the gender ideology of the times defines the intellect as secondary rather than primary, to the essence of “feminine” nature” (Schieber 178) which is an interesting perspective considering the emphasis on reason and intellect throughout the story, and the fact that Clara is the primary protagonist of the story. Schieber claims that when Clara questions the audience, “was I not likewise transformed from rational and human into a creature of nameless and fearful attributes” (Brown 137) that she is exposing her “self-condemnation” that is born out of the gendered system that relates “rational” and “human” on the masculine side of gender axis, and the negation of those qualities to the feminine side of the axis.
Brown, Charles Brockden, Philip Barnard, and Stephen Shapiro. Wieland ; or the Transformation. An American Tale with Related Texts. Indianapolis: Hackett Pub., 2009. Print.
Scheiber, Andrew J. “‘The Arm Lifted against Me’: Love, Terror, and the Construction of Gender in ‘Wieland.’” Early American Literature, vol. 26, no. 2, 1991, pp. 173–194.
April 27, 2018 at 4:07 pm
In his article, entitled ‘Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture’, scholar Robert A. Ferguson examines the character of Rip Van Winkle in depth and identifies some of the key flaws that keep this iconic figure of early American Folklore in conversation to this day. One of the flaws identified in Ferguson’s article is the issue of drink, which is brought up in the selected paragraph. Ferguson argues that Rip’s problems with being a “naturally thirsty soul” can be attributed to and explain his lack of success in life: “Habitual drinking keeps him from the steady application that every good farm requires” (533). This explanation of Rip’s tendency to ‘bum around’ aligns to the events of the story, as well as illuminating a reason why he continues to be a influential character in American literature. According to Ferguson, “We value Rip most of all because we find something of our own foibles in him, not because we worry about drink or because we fear an encounter with Heinrich Hudson when we enter the Kaatskill Mountains. Rip’s faults…are our own bad habits carried to extremes. Irving keeps to the lighter side of these extremes” (533-534). Through the relatable aspects and complexities of Rip’s character, readers throughout the years are enabled, through Irving’s lighthearted storytelling, to return to this original American folktale with as timeless a perspective as the readers who scanned the first print-warmed lines of this work.
Ferguson, Robert A. “Rip Van Winkle and the Generational Divide in American Culture.” Early American Literature, vol. 40, no. 3, 2005, pp. 529–544. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/25057421.
April 27, 2018 at 3:46 pm
In “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity” by Blythe Forcey, it is said that the motherly affection of the narrator is what really makes this story relatable. I found this article to be interesting because I think that it very true. I think the way that the narrator acts in a motherly way really helps the story along. Forcey states, “Early American readers were able, as they read this novel, to live through a nightmare of dislocation, alienation, and abandonment that mapped their worst fears. But, guided by the careful and caring narrative of Mrs. Rowson, they emerged safe and unscathed, with all troubling ambiguities and terrors temporarily put to rest” (227-228). I think this is a very important quote because it makes you, as the reader, realize just how good of an author Susana Rowson truly was. To be able to make her readers feel safe even during a scary time, all due to the way this story is narrated. Forcey also states, “The motherly character of Rowson’s narrative voice is evident from her first addresses to the reader… Thus she offers, quite explicitly, to stand in for those ‘natural friends’ that the reader might have lost and to protect them from the horrors of the world” (228). I think this is a very important statement as well. Forcey makes it clear that even from the very first sentence of this story, Susana Rowson manages to take our hand and make us feel safe.
Forcey, Blythe. “Charlotte Temple and the End of Epistolarity.” American Literature, vol. 63, no. 2, 1991, pp. 225–241. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/2927163.
April 27, 2018 at 3:45 pm
I also really loved this line. The Earth is the beginning and the end of the cycle of life, and that gets so overlooked in our day to day struggles. Nature and death are like you said, both important parts of the cycle of life. The connection being made in these two lines applies to most of what we have studied through the semester in this class. Even the puritans had themes of nature as a part of their beliefs. Nature and death are the two things that connect humanity because no human on Earth can avoid either one of these things. We will all die and become a part of nature once more, because that is how we began the cycle.
April 27, 2018 at 3:12 pm
Within this passage, we witness the first instance of Charlotte beginning to distrust her own instincts. While at the party she was led to believe would be fun and entertaining, she realizes that being obedient and staying home would have been better than sneaking out with La Rue. As the story progresses we see Charlotte trust those instincts less and, according to Marion Rust’s article “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple'”, her behavior becomes increasingly described as some “form of collapse, in which her future direction is determined by nothing more deliberate than her center of gravity.” This continual falling down that Charlotte experiences effectively acts to demonstrate Rowson’s commentary on the unreliability of young women’s own moral character and how they are insufficiently able to stand up to the force of external moral corruption.
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Rust, Marion. “What’s Wrong with ‘Charlotte Temple?”.” The William and Mary Quarterly, vol. 60, no. 1, 2003, pp. 99–118.
April 27, 2018 at 2:25 pm
Throughout her essay, “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself”, Cath N. Davidson expresses the aspects which make the text so significant. She explains the strength of emotion that is brought because the narrative is told from Equiano himself. She also expresses that the non-traditional storytelling is what makes it interesting and evokes emotion throughout. Davidson ultimately points out that, “Many aspects of the text make it significant, but especially impressive is it expansive reach” (19). His story is told in many parts of the world and allows readers to feel this narrative from place to place based on his narrating abilities. For example, Equiano himself states “in the preceding chapter I have set before the reader a few of those many instances of oppression, extortion, and cruelty, which I have been a witness to in the West Indies”. As readers have been taken from place to place Equiano stops to show the places he’s been and the things he’s seen. Davidson also points out the emotion-evoking tones and voice used by Equiano. Addressing the many aspects of the text Davidson writes, The text combines (in unequal parts) slave narrative, sea yarn, military adventure, ethnographic reportage, historical fiction, travelogue, picaresque saga, sentimental novel, allegory, tall tale, pastoral origins myth, gothic romance, conversion tale, and abolitionist tract, with different features coming to the fore at different times, and the mood vacillating accordingly” (20). His slave trade journey was terrible and cruel; as readers see Equiano journey from place to place they empathize with him more and begin to realize the terrible conditions in which he was under. The narrative of Equiano become more and more effective for readers because of the places Equiano takes us and the voice he uses to evoke that emotion out of readers.
Davidson, Cathy N. “Olaudah Equiano, Written by Himself.” NOVEL: A Forum on Fiction, vol. 40, no. 1/2, 2006, pp. 18–51. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/40267683.
April 27, 2018 at 1:26 pm
According to William Pencak, author of “Benjamin Franklin’s Biography, Cotton Mather, and a Puritan God,” in this paragraph, Franklin is defending the stakes on which he wrote his autobiography, as well as defending his own morality. Franklin was very dedicated to his moral standing with himself and God and went through extreme measures to ensure that he would end up on the ‘right’ side of things. This particular passage is about the ‘justification of his book’ which ‘illustrates an important philosophical point: the need for ideal principles, realized in practice, to subdue “Natural Inclination,” as well as the bad effects of, “Custom and Company” (Pencak 8). The ‘artifice’ that Franklin describes represents the civilization of people that he is surrounded by and he believes that they should be informed of his knowledge, life, and commitment to God. Franklin didn’t believe that being religious meant attending church, donating to pastors, or things alike. It was about believing in God, Praying honestly, and being virtuous. Throughout this autobiography, Franklin defends and justifies his beliefs and morality.
Pencak, William. “BENJAMIN FRANKLIN’S AUTOBIOGRAPHY, COTTON MATHER, AND A PURITAN GOD.” Pennsylvania History: A Journal of Mid-Atlantic Studies, vol. 53, no. 1, 1986, pp. 1–25. JSTOR, JSTOR, http://www.jstor.org/stable/27773087.
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