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The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin

by Benjamin Franklin

Analysis: Booker's Seven Basic Plots Analysis

Christopher Booker is a scholar who wrote that every story falls into one of seven basic plot structures: Overcoming the Monster, Rags to Riches, the Quest, Voyage and Return, Comedy, Tragedy, and Rebirth. Shmoop explores which of these structures fits this story like Cinderella’s slipper.

Plot Type : Rags to Riches

Initial Wretchedness at Home and the 'Call'

Franklin hates being apprenticed to his brother and runs away to Philadelphia.

This beginning is about as traditional as you can get: as a kid, Franklin's pulled out of school, which he loves, to work as an apprentice for his brother, which he hates. He bides his time dreaming of bigger things, until he can weasel out of his contract and escape to a new city where no one knows him.

Out into the World, Initial Success

In Philadelphia, Franklin gradually makes a name for himself as a printer, inventor, and organizer.

Franklin strikes out on his own, and though he meets small conflicts at first, his hard work and good ideas pay off with a successful business. He begins to have an influence over shaping the city.

The Central Crisis

Historic events – the French and Indian War – push Franklin into fighting to develop a proper militia for the colonies and working against stupid and corrupt bureaucrats like General Braddock and Governor Denny.

Franklin's wish that Pennsylvania have its own militia, like any proper civilization, is underscored when the colonists are endangered by impending war and don't get much good help from the British army. In working on this problem, Franklin gets in the middle of a dispute between the Governor and the state Assembly.

Independence and the Final Ordeal

Franklin makes it to England and argues in court for colonists' rights on behalf of the Assembly.

Despite bureaucratic red tape and people getting in his way, Franklin perseveres in traveling to England as the colonists' representative. The kid who was stuck working for his brother is now an elected voice of reason, chosen by an entire Assembly to represent them in English courts.

Final Union, Completion, and Fulfillment

The court battle is completed, only to be undercut by the Assembly making another decision.

This part of Franklin's story really doesn't match up with Booker's guidelines. Technically, it's the final event and brings his story to a close, but it doesn't represent a proper "conclusion" or ending that reflects his fulfillment as a person. Franklin's still got a lot of stuff to do when he gets back from England, and it would be nice for us to hear his thoughts about the part he plays in the American Revolution and world diplomacy. We still want to hear more about what made Franklin (the author) the kind of person he is, but it's something we don't get to find out.

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