Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Just as Benjamin Franklin himself was a man of many interests, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin has many facets. It shows how an ambitious individual can move up in the world by being willing to work hard, by having a decent amount of good luck, and by seizing opportunities. Among other things, his autobiography is a study in entrepreneurism and individual pluck. Franklin’s economic climb came the hard way, as he worked first as an apprentice to his brother James, who published a newspaper, and eventually became the printer for the state of Pennsylvania and owned his own business. When Franklin was appointed to official government offices, such as postmaster, he also came to know people who were important politically, and some of these early contacts are described in the work. Yet what Franklin seems most proud of and what he spends the most time recounting are the many civic improvements that he had a hand in—from the formation of the first American subscription library to the first fire department, from a plan for improving city cleanliness by paving the streets and keeping the pavement swept to a design for a more efficient stove. Another area that he only begins to describe is his work as a diplomat. Unfortunately, the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin ends before it reaches the period of Franklin’s international recognition.

When Franklin began his autobiography, he wrote in the form of memoirs and referred to the work...

(The entire section is 499 words.)