The Other Side of Ben Franklin Benjamin Franklin is famously known for using his knowledge to conquer many life achievements such as discovering lightening, co-signing The Declaration of Independence, and establishing the first American library, but all of his ultimate accomplishments would not have been established if he had not have found his niche for writing. In his younger years, Franklin rejected attending grammar school and following after his dad in becoming a “tallow chandler and soap boiler,” so he had no other choice than working with his brother as a printer (Norton 455).
He there found his place for books, reading, and writing. What makes Franklins writing so Interesting and deferent Is the fact he started out writing In the point of views of non- fiction people, which this opposes non-fiction novels because the letters and essays serve as a deeper, personal view of society. He would make up different characters with different opinions: his most famous voice are letters by “Silence Dogwood” which Franklins brother published these letters not knowing they were by Franklin. Franklins accidental discovery was sparked by the immediate interest of the public.
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His true struggle from rags to riches in reach of the “American Dream” makes his essays even more authentic and believable in which people could receive a strong opinion towards a social or political issue. One of Franklins essays, “The Speech of Miss Poly Baker,” effectively accomplishes this idea of expressing a strong opinion towards a social issue, In this case about a woman who gives birth to five bastard children. Poly Baker’s ultimate goal in the essay Is to Justify her actions towards the court In order to opt out of punishment for her sins.
Franklin captures this woman’s opinion primarily from personal experience. Franklin, himself, had a son out of wedlock but took responsibility from his actions by adopting his son when he married and established his life. This essay was also written during the time of “his unusually progressive views of women for this time” (Norton 456). Looking in detail, one can find that, through Franklins voice, Poly Baker voices her strong and exaggerated opinion using different rhetorical techniques towards the court stating that she alone should not be punished for her actions.
She states several reasons for why she should not be punished, such as her poor economic tutus, risking her life for having children, religious decisions, and more in order to change the court’s decision. First, Poly Baker attempts to alter the court’s decision by using pathos. To create ultimate sympathy In front of the court, she describes that she Is a “poor unhappy Woman; who [has] no Money to Fee Lawyers to plead for [her] (Norton 463). She then goes to say that this Is the fifth time she has “been drag’s before [the] Courts on the same Account; twice… For] heavy Fines, and twice have from the court is to state that she risqu?? her own life to bear the children that will be useful to the world. One can see that by using obvious, penetrating words, such as poor, punishment, risqu??, can grab the listeners’ attention to hopefully receive sympathy for what the character has to undergo in life. Although, one weak point Poly Baker makes is that this is her fifth kid. If she knew she would receive punishment and already has four other times, why have another and face the consequences again?
Why did she not learn from her actions, and with the court knowing this, how can the Jury have sympathy? If she wanted a kid so badly, why not get married and produce safely and abundantly with no consequence of punishment? The last question will be answered later in the discussion. ) Poly Baker’s tone, secondly, grabs the courts attention. She successfully moves her tone from a humble voice to a more exaggerated voice in order the keep the court’s attention and sustains them from interrupting her speech.
She expresses humbleness by, again, stating she is poor and essentially beneath the court’s status. Throughout the speech, she is able to keep a sense of low status instead of representing herself as above them. She reminds the court that she has paid her fines and accepts punishment from the government as a responsible citizen; this emends again that she is beneath the court by stating how the government implements these laws. Her humble voice also says how she not committed murder, nor has she “debauched no other Women’s Husband” (Norton 464).
In her humbleness, she even agrees that she would “suffer eternal Fire” in Hell for her actions; ” the Precepts of Religion are violated by my transgressions. ” Accepting that she might go to Hell for her actions show that she is bother humble and understands that her actions are wrong. The point she make her is that if she understands that what she did may be wrong in the eyes of the Lord and the fact she hurt no other, hen why is it up to the government to barge and decide her fate on a private matter?
Ben Franklin is making political point her by asking should the government be in charge of punishment over a private life choice. Why cannot religion be the bases of one’s choices from right to wrong and drive their moral accounts? Lastly, Poly Baker switches the attention of herself to the attention of a general sense of male duty. She first does this by using a personal example. Poly Baker says she was going to get married when she was a virgin. She had one proposal and accepted, but the man impregnated her and “then forsook [her]. That very [man]… Is now… A Magistrate of [the] County’ (Norton 464).
Her honor of men was last after this, and she believes that that man should have been punished for leaving her, instead he prospers in his life. She states that this is both “unjust and unequal” (Norton 464). The second way she fixates the attention towards sinful nature of men is by pointing out that there are various bachelors and some of them not once have courted a woman. She believes that this is committing a sin in itself withholding selfishly from being with a woman and not reproducing. Poly Baker effectively proves her point that she should not be punished for her sinful nature.
She uses sympathy, a growth of tone form humble to exaggerated, and redirects attention to the opposite of sex through multiple examples such as government versus religion, men committing the same sin, humbly accepting previous punishments, and many more by proving her innocence. Ben character by indirectly stating that the government should not control private matters of the common people. Through Poly Baker’s speech, one can see that Franklin believes religion solely should be able to drive moral decision knowing that Heaven and Hell is the ultimate deciding factor.
Also, Franklin drives the point that sufficient bachelors should want to court a woman and reproduce for that is the “Command of Nature” (Norton 465). He efficiently captures the nature of women and their daily struggles. Is this speech a little over exaggerated by having five kids out of wedlock and at the end forcing his voice to go and reproduce? Yes. But, that is what makes Franklins speech so effective; his exaggerated style and indirectly asserting how men should take some responsibility, as he did himself, calls his timeless audience to action.