Silence Dogood Essay #13

Between September 17th and September 24th of 1722, Benjamin Franklin under the pseudonym of “Silence Dogood” writes and submits his thirteenth essay addressed to the author of the New England Courant. In this brief essay, Franklin writes in the character of a woman who describes her encounters with the people she observes as she travels around town on a “pleasant moonlight evening”. As the story progresses, Franklin smoothly shifts from exploring the imagination associated with adventure to questioning women and their natural craving for pleasure.
Throughout the essay, Franklin repeatedly references women that Dogood observes the night of her walk. Franklin first illuminates women when Dogood encounters a crowd of about twenty people and describes it as one that consists of “both genders”. Soon after first spotting the crowd, Dogood would once again draw attention to women when she engages in conversation with “one of the females” that pretends to know her. By continuously citing women enjoying themselves, Franklin promotes the escapism of late night adventure while enticing his female readers to seek pleasure outside of the home.
As Franklin describes the enjoyment of various groups Dogood encounters, he also revives the spirit of his readers who might otherwise hesitate seeking excitement outside of the home. An instance of this occurring is when Dogood recalls a memory in which a woman asks a shoe maker how long he expects her shoes to last. Replying to the woman’s question, the shoe maker tells her “that he knew how many days she might wear them, but not how many nights because they were then put to a more violent and irregular service than when she employed herself in the common affairs of the house”. By referring to the woman’s role in the home, Franklin intends to question the gender roles of his time. This particular passage serves as another example of how Franklin explores gender roles in addition to the livelihood of all middle class people. Although much of the essay seemed to be a “night’s ramble”, Franklin reminds his readers that his imagination gives him too much to write stating that anything more “would take up too much room in your paper”. Statements such as this one where Franklin communicates directly with the reader demonstrates how his writing style elicits interest. In doing so, Franklin succeeds in stressing the power of imagination and how it can be used to understand people around you. To conclude, Benjamin Franklin tells the story of his encounters on a walk after dark to prove the existence of imagination and adventure.

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