Unable to publish letters in the New- England Courant using his own name, Benjamin Franklin composed a set of fourteen essays under the pseudonym Silence Dogood that were accepted and published in the newspaper. The sixth essay written by Franklin as Mrs. Dogood was published in the newspaper’s June 4th to the 11th, 1722 issue.
In the sixth essay, Franklin starts his writing by expressing his dislike for a certain vice, pride. He says that pride is “a Vice the most hateful to God and Man”. Franklin believes that all people have a yearning to be considered someone who has pride, being superior over all others without it. It is implied that Franklin finds pride to be the folly of every man and woman. Every man and woman desire to have pride, yet it almost always leads to “destruction”. Franklin talks about those who strive to have pride but says, “until one Misfortune comes upon the Neck of the other, and every Step they take is a step backwards”, furthering that pride is a foolish thing to try to obtain as it will only hinder progression. Despite wanting it, pride is a characteristic that no one wants to see in others around them. Even those who have pride have a sense of disdain for others with it. Franklin, writing as his female alias, turns to a more specific subject of pride being the Pride of Apparel, as he has begun to notice more of this, especially among the women of the community. He focuses on women’s fashion, mainly their “monstrous topsy-turvy” Hoop-Petticoats. It is clear that Franklin is disgusted by these gaudy and over-sized pieces of apparel so popular among the women. He finds that the Hoop-Petticoats take up too much space in the rooms for the little to no contribution the women are providing to conversation or business by men. Franklin writes, “I would at least desire them to lessen the Circumference of their Hoops.” Throughout this essay, Franklin repeatedly expresses his dislike, for Hoop-Petticoats, believing in his opinion that they are an “Indication of Immodesty” with their huge size coupled with the women’s lack of contribution. Franklin, again, writing as a woman, does not believe this letter will persuade other women to stop wearing the Hoop-Petticoats, but suggests that they consider making them smaller in size, so as to not take up the most space in a room, and to possibly be made suitable for places such as the Church or kitchen.