One way that a writer could approach the relationship between Benjamin Franklin’s autobiography and the American Dream is through the emphasis on individual achievement. The idea that hard work is necessary for fulfilling one’s desire for success is usually considered a central component of the American Dream. At various points in his autobiography, Franklin presents both himself and other individuals as examples of diligent workers but also creative thinkers. His self-portrait is tempered by humility, however, as he points out positive qualities with which he was born and that he has labored to improve.
Franklin’s views on individual achievement are included in book 2, such as when he discusses his plans for self-improvement. He relates that he found it necessary and beneficial to assess both positive and negative qualities of his character and strive relentlessly to make the moral and useful ones better and to eliminate the bad ones. He demonstrates his belief that the individual’s responsibility to improve themselves is a key element in improving their overall situation, not the other way around. In the centuries since Franklin’s time, maximizing one’s potential—as as Franklin suggests we should—has been seen an important element in the pursuit of the American Dream.