Poor Richard's AlmanackWhat strategy did Franklin use in Poor Richard's Almanack and what is the most powerful irony in the passage?

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Susan Hurn | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Again, we would need the specific passage to answer questions about it, but here is some additional information about the Poor Richard almanacs and Franklin's aphorisms that appeared in them. Like almanacs in general, Franklin included a wealth of information for his readers--daily weather predictions for the days of the year, along with daily times for high and low tides and for sunrises and sunsets. He also included tables of measurements and distances and noted the dates of special events.

The aphorisms were a really popular feature in Poor Richard, but Franklin didn't originate their ideas. He selected proverbs and old sayings and rewrote them to make them more effective and entertaining. Here's a passage from the Heritage Edition of Adventures in American Literature that explains Franklin's writing technique:

. . . he took older sayings and rewrote them in crisper language. Sometimes he shortened the original. For instance, he clipped the proverb "The greatest talkers are the least doers" to "Great talkers, little doers." At other times he changed an abstraction into a concrete image. He sharpened the saying "What maintains one vice costeth more than ten virtues" by changing it to "What maintains one vice would bring up two children."

Franklin, like all good writers, wrote for his specific audience. His style in the Poor Richard almanacs was plain and simple--and often very funny.

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missy575 | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Educator Emeritus

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Many of Franklin's maxims or aphorisms employed the use of great hyperbole. Such exaggeration offered both truth and humor. Take for example this proverb:

You cannot pluck roses without fear of thorns,
Nor enjoy a fair wife without danger of horns.

This sort of reminds me of the truth that if you play with fire you just might get burned. Or, it reminds me of the idea that if you want the good in life you are going to have to consider taking some of the bad.

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belarafon | (Level 2) Educator Emeritus

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Although the Almanack was one of the progenitors of the modern Newspaper, it was a yearly publication, and so couldn't have daily sales; it needed to draw readers to buy it on a regular basis. One of Franklin's strategies was to run certain stories as serials, prompting curiosity in the readers. They would buy the next year's copy to find out what happened next. It is likely that the bulk of these stories were invented, but they achieved their purpose in raising sales.

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accessteacher | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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I am reminded by Mark Twain's writings when I read the proverbs of Franklin in this collection. The combination of down to earth wisdom with exaggeration for comic effect makes us laugh whilst also establishing certain truths about life that we would be foolish to ignore. In this sense, we can see his proverbs as being descendants of the Book of Proverbs in the Bible, that managed to offer earthy realistic advice.

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litteacher8 | High School Teacher | (Level 3) Distinguished Educator

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Franklin uses humor mixed with practicality. We'd need to know the specific passage to point out exactly how and where he used it. Here is a link to a list of Poor Richard's proverbs. My favorite compares a fish and a guest. After a few days, both start to smell! http://www.richhall.com/poor_richard.htm