Silence Dogood Essay #1

One of Benjamin Franklin’s first publications was his Silence Dogood Essays on April 2, 1722. Franklin adopts the alias of “Silence Dogood” so he can print these stories and commentaries without his brother knowing. James Franklin, who was furious with Benjamin Franklin since he had outwitted the elder James in regards to his apprenticeship, would never allow his younger brother to gain fame from his writings in The New England Courant. Because of the censorship of his brother, Franklin adopts the pseudonym Silence Dogood.

In Benjamin Franklin’s first Silence Dogood Essays, he introduces the narrator of the fourteen-part essay that would be printed in his brother’s newspaper. It covers the circumstances of her birth and how her father died on that day, “…a merciless Wave entered the Ship, and in one Moment carry’d him beyond Reprieve.” Her mother sends her to apprentice with a minster, who instills the young girl virtues and a hunger for knowledge and reading. After two years being an apprentice to this minster, her mother dies and “leaving me as it were by my self, with no Relation on Earth within my knowledge.” Instead of going on and on about her life, Silence Dogood simply states she has had a good life full of “profit and pleasure” and ends the essay by saying that her humor should not be taken seriously and she does not aim to make anyone angry.

Franklin’s goal of this first letter is to establish who Silence Dogood is and why she is writing these letters and printing them in the newspaper. She is giving an account of her life and gives the reader a sense of who the author is. However, Franklin’s most important point comes at he end of the letter when he writes, “I am not insensible of the impossibility of pleasing all, but I would not willing displease any” Franklin is isolating his fictitious author from the threat of being censored by the Massachusetts Assembly. If he states these essays are not designed to insult, then the Assembly will have a difficult time to quiet this part of the newspaper if it is not malicious, but pokes fun at he government.

One thought on “Silence Dogood Essay #1”

  1. First off, I think this response is extremely well-written. Not only did you give background as to why Benjamin Franklin picked up the alias of Silence Dogood (something that was not outright mentioned in the particular piece of work), but you also summarized Silence Dogood’s first essay really well. Your response was very to the point and allowed for everything that was of importance to be represented and reiterated; this is especially true when you mention the goal of Dogood in writing these essays. However, I think it would be really interesting to hear how you personally feel about the piece and what it contains. Some reflection in here would definitely add to its overall excellence!

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