Franklin was truly an innovative individual, bright and original, and also a tremendously decent man. Ben Franklin frequently refers to the theme of virtue and how he was a virtuous man. Over the years Franklin collected numerous desirable qualities he had heard from persons or read in literature. He wanted to make note of these assets, but thought that many of these had too many or too few under the same idea and were somewhat confusing. This instigated Franklin to categorize them in his own way, dividing out the ideas into his “Thirteen Virtues”.
Franklin, was a kind hearted man, decent, and did have high morals. Franklin does note in his autobiography that he strived to be virtuous in character. He wanted to live his life without any faults and was fascinated with improving himself with admirable qualities. This is evident when Franklin states, “It was about this time I conceived the bold and arduous project of arriving at moral perfection,” (pg 93). Franklin does go on to reveal that it was not as easy as he first thought it would be, but he would put together a method for learning and performing his virtues to the fullest extent.
Benjamin Franklin, along with being a worthy human being, was an extremely ingenious person as well. Franklin was a very clever man, intellectual and witty, and he did not let his ideas go to waste. Franklin was often intrigued when he would learn new ideas from books he read during his journeys. He was always trying to gain knowledge by creative self-experiences. It didn’t bother Franklin to try new ideas that the common folk wouldn’t necessarily accept into they’re routine lifestyle. A clear example of this is when he took up vegetarianism for the first time.
In the text Franklin states, “When I was about sixteen years of age I happened to meet with a book written by one Tyron, recommending a vegetable diet... My refusing to eat flesh occasioned an inconveniency, and I was frequently chid for my singularity,” (p 29). This shows how Franklin was not a product of his society because he was always anxious to break beyond the realm of the “normal” culture. Later on in his life, he gradually began to shape the culture and society he was apart of.
The brilliance of his writing, from a young teen to a grown adult, inspired anyone who read his work. One of his most popular pieces written was the Poor Richard’s Almanack. This almanac had an immediate impact on the common people as Franklin states it was “both entertaining and useful,” (p 107). Poor Richards Almanack is an example of how Franklin shaped society as it “accordingly came in such demand that I reaped considerable profit from it, vending annually near ten thousand,” (p 107).
Ben Franklin’s ingenious nature allowed him to express his ideas to the people and help shape society and culture of his time. Ben Franklin did not life his life entirely to the Puritan standards. The Puritan lifestyle of the time period was a very strict way of life and much revolved around the church and God. Franklin did have his praises to religion and God, as he mentioned several times in the autobiography, but he didn’t live his life to the firm structure of the Puritans. He was very open-minded and free spirited, and couldn’t contain his unsatisfied understanding of the world.
Franklin welcomed the thought of change, which wasn’t normal to the Puritan existence. Also contrary to the Puritans, who believed the church and God was the key to happiness, Franklin had a different view. A quote that shows this is when Franklin says, “I grew convinced that truth, sincerity, and integrity, in dealings between man and man, were of the utmost importance to the felicity of life,” (p 70). This message expresses Franklins perspective of human nature is and what he believes is the key to having excessive happiness in life.