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“Letter on Old Mistresses” and “the Way to Wealth”, Essay Example

Pages: 1

Words: 396

Essay

In many of his essays and pieces, Benjamin Franklin utilized satire and humor as a way of expressing his ideas and thoughts, mostly because he felt that satire or making fun of something as a joke and humor was the best way to get his message across to the reader. Satire and humor also created quite a bit of levity in his writings, meaning that from his perspective, the subject matter or topic being satirized was not that serious when compared to more important things in life.

In his “Letter on Old Mistresses,” originally entitled “Old Mistresses Apologue” from June 25, 1745, Franklin addresses a “friend” who obviously has some fears and concerns related to getting married. Franklin mentions that the friend’s “violent natural inclinations,” being to have sexual relations with a woman without being married, can only be remedied through marriage. Franklin also tells his friend that he should marry an older woman and provides several satirical reasons–first, when an older woman “ceases to be handsome,” she studies to be good since her physical attractiveness is gone; second, there is no “hazard of children,” a strange way of expressing that children bring misfortune rather than happiness; and third, Franklin advises his friend that even when a woman is old, her “lower parts” continue to be “as plump as ever.” Franklin also satirically advises his friend that if he does not like what he sees above the “girdle” or waist, then simply “cover all above with a basket” (Franklin, “Old Mistresses Apologue”).

In contrast, in “The Way to Wealth,” written on July 7, 1757 and signed by “Richard Saunders” who appears to be none other than Poor Richard himself, Franklin utilizes humorous analogies and metaphors as a way of expressing his ideas to the reader concerning the state of the Nation circa the French and Indian Wars. As to paying taxes, Richard declares that idleness or “absolute sloth, or (the) doing of nothing” is more harmful than the taxes. Sloth, he says, “like rust, consumes faster than labor wears, while the used key is always bright.” Richard also admonishes his readers/listeners by stating that if you love life, “then do not squander time, for that’s the stuff life is made of.” Perhaps Richard’s most humorous observation (i.e., dark humor) is that sleep accomplishes nothing, for “there will be sleeping enough in the grave” (Franklin, “The Way to Wealth”).

Time is precious

Time is precious

don’t waste it!

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