In the early 1700s, Benjamin Franklin wrote essays in a newspaper that were stories being told by a fictional character named Silence Dogood. I read and analyzed his very first essay by her. In this essay, Franklin starts off with a statement that almost sounds like a disclaimer, saying that what he is writing is for pure entertainment and he will begin by explaining the early life of Silence Dogood. By starting with this, it shows how Franklin wanted readers to begin with an open mind and understand that this is for pleasure reading.
Then, the reader learns that Silence Dogood’s parents both died; her father in a shipwreck, then a few years later, her mother died as well. Throughout this first essay, Silence Dogood talks about how living without a father caused her to have to help her mother, so she worked as a nurse. When her mother died, she continued to work but also spent time reading books and learning for pleasure. Right away, the reader is given enough background information about Silence Dogood to see she is a strong-willed woman who endured struggles but got through them anyway.
I think that Franklin started his letters with this one so that readers will learn enough about Silence Dogood that they will be interested, and just enough so that they will look forward to the next letter. Also, I think that some parts of Silence Dogood’s life can relate to Franklin’s life; as if he’s writing about himself but putting a twist on it so it isn’t completely obvious. Although Franklin’s parents didn’t die when he was young, he had little to no support from them so he was forced to go out and make his own living, much like Silence Dogood after her father died. Another similarity between the two is how Silence Dogood had a “master” that helped her out and let her use his library, much like Franklin had the mayor’s help when he went to Philadelphia. I think that the parallels between Silence Dogood’s life and Franklin’s life will become more noticeable as the letters continue.