Ben Franklin and Tintern Abbey and This Lime Tree Bower My Prison Term Paper

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Ben Franklin's writing expresses many ideas and techniques of the Enlightenment that can also be found in Pope's writings, yet is also uniquely American. And the second part analyzes Tintern Abbey by Wordsworth and This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison.

Ben Franklin and Alexander Pope were two great literary writers whose technique comparatively reflected the themes and concepts popular during the age of Enlightenment including individuality and human freedom.

Benjamin Franklin was one of the leading thinkers of the Enlightenment in America. He explored themes of human individuality and natural effect, freedom of will, the rights of man, social structures and progressive ideologies for the new nation. The genius of the man is reflected in his writings, analyzed in this essay, in comparison with another great writer of the era, Alexander Pope.

Franklin's work revealed that the man was unique among his contemporaries, in his approach to philosophy and human nature. During a time in which the working of the human mind went through a complete overhaul, Franklin's work showed that human beings could control their circumstances and react positively with their surroundings, thereby understanding and improving their lives. His literature displays his ideas, many of which are uniquely American, in a remarkable style.

Much of Franklin's technique revolves around his clear insight into daily social and human circumstance, and his analytical powers. The tone of his work could be best described as philosophically forthright, a fact that won him acclaim as a renowned thinker and even criticism from certain literary figures. Most of his intensity and complexity sometimes eluded his contemporaries, largely because of the deep ideas cloaked in sheer simplicity. He advises: "never to pretend to wit, but to make that of others appear as much as possibly we can; to hearken to what is said and to answer to the purpose." His wit extended to society and human customs too; elsewhere he writes: "Three may keep a secret, if two of them are dead." And the immortal "..
.. In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

With regard to parallels that may be drawn with Pope, one finds that Franklin's direct satirical wit and human philosophizing are the main distinguishing features between the two writers. Pope was also a master of satire, albeit in his own fashion, and was instrumental in highlighting the hypocritical superficiality of his era's social structure. Pope was also endowed with deep philosophical insight but of a kind more in tone with the Enlightenment. He writes: "A man should never be ashamed to own he has been wrong, which is but saying, that he is wiser today than he was yesterday"; and "Be not the first by whom the new are tried, / Nor yet the last to lay the old aside." His social satire is best discovered in The Rape of the Lock, in which he writes "What mighty Contests rise from trivial Things" a line that perfectly describes all that was and is wrong in society. Franklin's involvement in the American Independence movement also contributed greatly to setting him apart from Pope, in that he dealt with an idea that was born from the age of Enlightenment: revolution, and one in a new land; thereby creating the world of active American Enlightenment.

Source: Baym, Abrams, Maynard, Cassill (editors). Norton Anthologies. W.W. Norton. 1979-2002.


Both of the poems, Tintern Abbey by Wordsworth and This Lime-Tree Bower My Prison by Coleridge are accounts of profound appreciation of the depths of the beauty of nature. In Coleridge's case, he says that the sensory experiences of nature are like "hues that veil the Almighty, but both revealing and concealing Him"; Wordsworth, on the other hand, says that he believes that there is "a motion and a spirit that impels / All thinking….....

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