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The Enlightenment And Its Effect On Succeeding Literary Movements

1076 words - 5 pages


The Age of Enlightenment was a societal movement, which began, in the late 17th and 18th century in Europe emphasizing reason was the cause of events in life, rather than religion, tradition or cultural beliefs. During this period, society went under a rebirth, exploring ideas, which took away the authority of the Catholic Church, which up until that point, had been believed by the people as the cause of everything in life. This ideas uncovered in this period transformed the views of people in the so-called Western World of religion and life itself. Between 1714 and 1818, ideas from Europe travelled over the Atlantic Ocean and the thirteen colonies themselves, went through a period of Enlightenment. Thinkers such as Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin gave emphasis to religious tolerance and believed in Deist ideals, which revolved around the thought that Man's fate was in his own hands, not God's. Benjamin Franklin, in particular, put forth some revolutionary ideas regarding how one should live their life. These thoughts carried on with society and directly affected succeeding literary movements such as the Romanticism Period.
In Benjamin Franklin's The Way to Wealth, he explores and solidifies the idea that God will not determine how man will be successful, but is up to man's desire for success. He states in this piece, "Sloth, by bringing on diseases, absolutely shortens life." By sloth, Franklin means laziness. This statement emphasizes the point that laziness brings about no success and is basically a disease once it becomes routine. It appears to shorten life because the lazy person has not accomplished anything and spent their time doing something worthwhile. Franklin also emphasizes the point that when man is not working, leisure is time given for something productive. This leads to Benjamin Franklin's The Autobiography [Part 2], where he puts forth values that he believes man should follow if he wants to achieve maximum efficiency and success in life. The thirteen values Franklin believed were crucial to Man's life were temperance, silence, order, resolution, frugality, industry, sincerity, justice, moderation, cleanliness, tranquility, chastity and lastly, humility. Of these thirteen values, I think order is the most emphasized by Franklin and subsequently, the most important. Franklin defines order as "Let your Things have their Places. Let each Part of your Business have its Time." By this he means man should keep his belongings organized and make sure everything in nature has a definite place. With the second part of the definition, Franklin is trying to convey the idea that man should be time conscious and organize activities. In Franklin's planner, he determines when to practice the thirteen values on each day of the week as shown on the previous page. They are shown going downwards on the page. As shown, Franklin believes order should be the most practiced value at six times a week. In the succeeding literary...

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