When Franklin was still working as an apprentice for his brother James in the printing shop, he knew that James would never publish a piece of writing that he wrote in the Courant. He therefore developed a pseudonym for himself under the name Silence Dogood, and tricked his brother into publishing his work. I will be examining the second essay that was published on April 16th, 1772.
Silence Dogood was a woman whom began by describing her life story which continues into the second essay. She begins by stating that, “histories of lives are seldom entertaining, unless they are admirable or exemplar” and then explains that that her life is not all that interesting, so she doesn’t want to burden her readers with boring life stories. Therefore, instead she is going to give a brief summary of her life “in as few words as possible.” I believe that Franklin did this so that the reader understands that this piece of writing is not coming from anyone of importance, and was just for entertainment. This statement was rather ironic since later on Franklin’s life becomes extremely exemplar. However, Dogood then explains how her reverend asked her hand in marriage. At first, she states that she “burst out into an unmannerly laughter”. But she took the offer into consideration and accepted. Here, I think that Franklin was just trying to create an image for his readers, one that was entertaining and humorous.
Many people were not happy about the engagement, however she said that he made her fall in love with him. She explains that their marriage was indeed a wonderful one. They had two daughters and one son. Sadly, after only seven years of marriage her husband faced an “inexorable, unrelenting death”. She wants to remarry, but finds that there are no suitable men. She explains how she now spends all of her free time in conversation with her neighbors, or writing letters. She finishes the second letter by giving her readers a sense of her character. When describing some of these characteristics, she states that she is “an enemy to vice, and a friend to virtue…a mortal enemy to arbitrary government and unlimited power… [and] jealous for the rights and liberties of my country”. I believe that although the majority of the story he has told so far is fictional, the characteristics he is describing here are describing himself. Franklin clearly demonstrates these characteristics, given that he was a major figure in the writing of the Declaration of Independence. Many of Franklin’s main points he is making are his own person and political views. Lastly, I think that it is possible that Franklin made up the biography not only to trick his brother into printing it, but also to make his readers feel a connection to Dogood before he continues with the rest of his essays.