How does Equiano’s narrative compare with others we’ve read in the class, such as Bradford’s, Rowlandson’s, or Franklin’s? What values and/or experiences do they seem to share?
Why is Olaudah Equiano’s narrative appropriate reading for an American literature course? He was born in Nigeria, and except for ten years as a slave in the Americas, he lived most of his life in England. What specifically “American” experiences or values does he seem to typify or embrace?
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Benjamin Franklin refers to himself as “B. Franklin Printer.” The main reason as to why Franklin refers himself as such is due to his belief that he is spreading truth and wisdom to anyone that is reading the papers that he has published. Franklin capitalized on his ability to share information that he acquired leading up to the signing of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin’s passing of knowledge on to others can also be called Enlightenment.
An example of Enlightment that is expressed by Franklin is the shift from piety to moralism. Piety can be defined as the quality of being religious. Moralism is defined as showing a tendency to make judgments about other peoples’ morality. Puritan beliefs were strict on obeying religious rules, but it seems that there has been a change in which Franklin is judging the actions of others more than following Puritan beliefs. This connects to another example of Enlightenment which is that the power to judge from God to men. Before, only God could judge anyone. However, it seems that men were judging one another and that was acceptable during this time of stress and dispair.
It is clear that there a shift to Enlightenment during this time period. Franklin, also known as the “B. Franklin Printer,” was able to share with others the news that was happening around them. His detailed papers allowed people to start forming their own opinions.