解析本杰明 富兰克林《自传》中的文学性 Analysis of literariness in Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography毕业论文
Looking back upon the long scroll of history, readers can find that different countries and different nations have produced excellent pioneers, leading their countries and nations from oppression to freedom, from weakness to prosperity, from chaos to clarity. Benjamin Franklin, as one of the founding fathers of the United States and American democracy, changed his own life with his lofty thoughts, extraordinary talents, and charming personality, and further changed the country’s trajectory. He wrote The Autobiography, which is highly praised by people all over the world. It is a life record of a great man, a historical document of a new era, and also a classic work of English literature. Its profound influence has been existent in the United States and even in today’s world. Today, scholars’ interpretations and appreciations of The Autobiography mostly focus on the value of historical documents and philosophical aspects of life. Some scholars have mentioned that its language styles are simple and plain, and there are words and phrases rich in substance, and some other scholars observe it as an autobiography, studying it in terms of literary genre. However very few scholars use literary techniques as an entry to analyze its literary value in depth. This paper will proceed from two rhetorical devices of allusion and analogy, to analyze the literariness of The Autobiography through the representative and vivid examples and deliver the effect on expressing the central idea: moral perfection. The paper holds that this famous work is the combination of its great thoughts and artistry.
Key Words: The Autobiography；Literariness; Allusions; Analogies
1 Introduction 1
1.1 Benjamin Franklin and his Works 1
1.2 Literature Review 2
1.3 Significance and Layout of this Paper 3
2 Allusions in The Autobiography 4
2.1 Jesus Christ and Socrates: Humility 4
2.2 Pythagoras and Cicero: Morality-oriented 6
3 Analogies in The Autobiography 8
3.1 Moral Self-achievement VS Weed Control: Realization of Thirteen Virtues 8
3.2 Urban Environment Governance VS Shaving Oneself: Cleanliness 10
4 Conclusion 12
4.1 Summary 12
4.2 Limitations and Further Study 13
Analysis of Literariness in Benjamin Franklin’s The Autobiography
1.1 Benjamin Franklin and his Works
As one of the founding fathers of the United States, the pioneer in the movement for American Independence, and the representative of American mind, Benjamin Franklin plays a vital role in defining American ethos — thrift, industry, initiative and opposition to authoritarianism. Being the key figure in shaping American society, Franklin is one of the most accomplished and influential Americans of his age (Uldrich, 2005). He is not only an outstanding politician and diplomat, but also a political theorist, leading author, postmaster, scientist, humorist, inventor, civic activist, statesman, printer and writer.
As a printer and writer, he publishes Poor Richard’s Almanack and The Autobiography. And Franklin’s The Autobiography, the first American book to be taken seriously as literature by Europeans, has received widespread praise and appreciation, both for its historical value as a record of an important early American and for its literary style. In The Autobiography, he makes a review of his life, recording his emotions, his failures and setbacks, and his success and achievements. Benjamin Franklin, since he appeared on the 100 dollar as a non-presidential identity, his spirit must be respected by Americans. Despite the fact that he did not get along well with his brother when he was a young printer, he could still handle the relationship with his brother skillfully; Despite the young age, he was a boy who was brave to express his opinion; Despite being alone, he came to Philadelphia and began his adventurous life-journey. In general, his The Autobiography consists of four parts. Part One takes the form of a family letter to his son. Franklin relates the ancestry and his experience of self-struggle, hoping that his offspring could learn something valuable from his experience to imitate. Part Two begins with two letters from his friends. Both of them encourage him to continue writing his The Autobiography for the purpose of educating the youth. In Part Three Franklin describes his devotion to public services and facilities. Part Four records his journey to Britain as an agent to defend the rights for the colonial people. And what impresses people most is his thirteen virtues and his unremitting efforts for moral perfection.
1.2 Literature Review
This paper searches for the relevant foreign researches and finds that critics overseas mainly focus on Franklin’s influence, his religion and morality, and his public service. Several articles explore his identity construction and other specific topics. Some researchers focus on Franklin’s religion and the influence of Puritanism, explaining his religious beliefs that a reasonable deity exists in the universe and he shows no doubt about the providential design of the world, and Puritans examine their conscience to meet God’s moral standards and prove themselves to be God’s selected ones (Li Yangchu, 2011:163). Other scholars pay attention to the influence of Franklin and his The Autobiography, such as the influence on moral philosophy and the function for social edification (Jerry, 2008). Some scholars take Franklin’s ethics as the research object, arguing that self-reflection with a goal toward self-improvement works as an effective way for Franklin to be a man with reason and morality (Xie Duanying, 2017: 27). Lu Chen analyzes Franklin’s educational practice which is divided into four indispensable parts: self education, social education, school education and family education (Lu Chen, 2014: 16). As the example of individual success, Franklin provides a paradigm of self-reliance and self-fulfillment. Yan Xiaoxu focuses on the embodiment of Franklin’s individualism from three aspects: independent judgement, self-construction and self-improvement, and pragmatic spirit (Yan Xiaoxu, 2017: 51). Other scholars analyze Franklin’s science and technology historical value, illustrating the necessary combination of theory and practical reality, and the importance of innovative thinking (Zhao Peijun, 2010: 14). And Bobker analyzes The Autobiography from punctuation: the dash (Bobker, 2013).