The initial intention of the book deviated as well, with the introduction of the “13 virtues”; it changes from a story of one man’s life to a manual for self- improvement. It is unknown If Franklin intended for his book to eventually become a self-improvement book or was simply written with the Intention of sharing the tale of his life, but the book became a model for self-help books to come. The book begins with Franklin writing stories to William.. His intentions for doing so are for his son to use his life as an example of how he should live his own life.
Franklin goes on to tell his son that he’s lived a good life, one worth repeating and would desire to correct only a few minor faults. He continues “Since such a repetition s not to be expected the next thing most like living one’s life over again seems to be recollection of that life, and to make that recollection as durable as possible by putting It down In writing. ” () Franklin even goes on to tell his son that the Autobiography does a good deal to gratify his vanity, a virtue he never could quite perfect.
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At the close of Part 1 it is mentioned that what has been written so far is nothing but anecdotal stories, important only to family members, and Franklin is left wondering If he should end the book there or proceed with publishing It. However, In the beginning of Part 2, after receiving responses from two different letters, Franklin Is encouraged to continue on with the writings and complete the book. HIS friend and author of the first letter, Mr..
Able, states, ” I know of no character living, nor many of them put together, who has so much power as thyself to promote a greater spirit of industry and early attention to business, frugality, and temperance with the American youth. ” 0 Benjamin writes the second letter to Franklin, and he too encourages the finishing of the book. Tells Franklin that if he does not finish the Autobiography himself someone else surely will, In which case, “perhaps so as nearly to do as much harm as your own management of the thing might do good. () also communicates to Franklin that his book would be a good model for how other people can better live their lives, and based on these recommendations Franklin moves forward with the book. With Franklins obsession with self-improvement , he ” the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection. I wished to live without committing NY fault at any time. ” 0 He goes on to write that he knew what was right and wrong and “to do the one to avoid the other. “() As he goes along on his journey he discovers that this task will not be accomplished that easily.
Franklin then devises a chart with all the virtues listed and allows himself one week to perfect each one, in hopes to be a guide to the public on how to live a more virtuous life; however, Franklin finds some of these virtues hard to abide by. Order over material things such as his papers, but had such a great memory that he felt no need for order. With the failure to perfect order, Franklin begins to feel a fault in his character, but he goes on to tell a story of how, “A benevolent man should allow a few faults in himself, to keep his friends in countenance. () Ironically, Franklin admits that in his older age his memory was not what it used to be and perhaps he should have made better want of order. The virtue of humility is the last to be added to the list in response to Franklins friends stating that he is too arrogant. In an attempt to make himself seem more humble and to perfect the virtue, Franklin begins to change the phrasing of many of this words and even goes on to say that he began enjoying conversations more after making these adjustments.
His pride however, he found hard to vanquish. In one of his more humorous lines he mentions how he became so humble that he was proud of his own humility. Though Franklin admits he fell short of perfecting each virtue, he maintains that he was much happier than if he had never attempted to make any of the changes. He writes that his hope for his descendants is to derive some enjoyment and benefits from acquiring these virtues; he seems genuine in his plight to help others.
Not only did he write what effectively became the model for self-help books, but he went on to invent things that also assisted his fellow man. His work with electricity and lightening made a celebrity out of Franklin, and for that work he received a medal of honor. He also developed the Franklin stove and conducted other experiments with the expectation of helping generations to come; not as a ploy to gain fame but as a simple gesture of his willingness and desire to improve the lives of mankind.