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Benjamin Franklin’S Autobiography

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As it is with any piece of writing, the intended audience within the author’s mind can have significant impacts on both the way the prose is crafted, and how the reader interprets it. For instance, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography appears to be written for a very particular individual. This is made explicit by the first two words of the book: “Dear son.” Immediately, one becomes aware of the fact that Franklin is not engaged directly in a dialogue with the reader, but rather, that he is addressing his own son. At first, it may seem rather peculiar for him to address his audience in a way so closely akin to a personal letter to his son; however, it is precisely this witty beginning that renders Franklin’s voice remarkably reliable, fatherly, and conversational. Furthermore, it serves to generate an instant intimacy with the reader and establishes the Autobiography as a suitable reading for not only his own posterity, but also any person who seeks self-improvement.

The familiar address, “Dear Son,” assures the reader that Franklin’s voice in this particular narrative is a very reliable one. He must be telling the truthвЂ"the whole truth, because he is speaking to his son. In other words, we are listening to him through the ears of his son, for whom Franklin wishes to unmask his past experiences. Also, to thus address his reader naturally gives Franklin a very fatherly voice. To address the reader as “Dear Son” gives us the feeling that Franklin is not speaking to an equal, but to one who is younger, less experienced, and who will most likely be able to benefit from his great wisdom. Of course, if we consider the case of an eighty-year-old person reading this text, Franklin’s calling him “Son” may be a little strange (if not mildly patronizing). Alternatively, when viewed through the lenses of say,



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