Narrator and Essay Analysis: The Way to Wealth by Benjamin Franklin

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This essay ‘The way to wealth’ is more of a reflection of an earlier book ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’ by Benjamin Franklin first published in the year 1978. It is a collection of wise sayings and lessons on how to make wealth and live a generally comfortable life.

The setting of the essay at the beginning shows an old wise man at an auctioning market who is speaking to a gathering crowd of people who earlier were complaining seriously about the taxes they had to pay to the king (Franklin, 1986).

 This old man happens to be quoting almost purely works from the older publication ‘Poor Richard’s Almanac’. It happens that Benjamin Franklin is the same person in both cases. It clearly seems like the author, who in the introduction of the essay has revealed his intention of being interesting as much as he may be passing on important information, is extending his idea of interesting to the idea of the essay, by writing the essay as if someone else was giving a speech (Franklin, 1986). It is really thrilling and serves the purpose that it was meant to serve. The style of the essay wraps all the important content with quite an interesting, easy and relatable context, as opposed to simply laying of concepts without building a context of application.

During the period when this essay was written, the Americans were living under the British rule and it could be presumed that no one was happy about paying taxes which must according to the people then were of unreasonable rates. Complaining must have been what frequented on the lips of the native and Franklin’s words must have been exactly what was needed by the people. He emphasizes the fact that people would complain that they were taxed much whereas most of their time was spent idling around. The author has spoken extensively on being industrious, throwing in rich proverbs and sayings to back up his convictions. He believed that if people would spend all their time productively, the amount that they would have to pay for their taxes would not bother them much.  He states that ‘Lost time is never found again’, to emphasize that any other thing including money can be lost and still made again yet time when lost could never be recovered (Franklin, 1986). He continues to say that ‘Sloth makes all things difficult, but industry makes all things easy’. This is to address the fact that though probably their being under the British rule was nothing to be happy about, if all were busy doing some work, then things would have been easier than when they all come together to sit and just complain.

Franklin’s emphasis could not be any less true in such times even after many years of independence. His works continue to be quoted in many places even unknowingly. His famous saying ‘early to bed, early to rise’ is one which not many people may even tell is by Franklin yet people continue to believe in it.

After deep emphasis of hard work, the essay addresses the issue of managing money which is a serious problem especially to the youths today. Through social media, the youth are being influenced by the posting of information that entices them to improve on their image which most times is to be attained by using money. Franklin’s idea of good wealth management is by making savings that are proportional to what one is earning. He is against extravagance that is prone to lead people into debt. He finds it unnecessary to work to finance a lifestyle which sooner or later leads to debts and with debts follows disgrace and loss of confidence in oneself.

     He says, ‘Extravagance is a folly soon punished,’ states Franklin in his words against indulgence in luxuries saying that they are an enemy to future financial security. His hatred for debts can clearly be seen by his explanation of what being in debt means to a person. He says that a person would rather sleep hungry rather than rising to debts. This is quite a debatable point which most people would think not right considering their health and well-being, but simply shows the sacrifice a person can and should get to in avoiding debts.

The writer is not only narrating points he heard from a place or simply read from a book but by years of learning through which he has drawn conviction of the lessons he teaches. Over the 25 years of research and compiling his knowledge, he has collected so much that he would desire that people may apply, but just as he ends his ‘story’ many people simply hear but still go on about their business of recklessly spending their time and money in extravagance as if they learnt nothing. However, the author quite expects this for he says, ‘experience keeps a dear school, but fools will learn in no other way.’ He has handed down many generations; applicable profound knowledge and only the wise as he would put it would take the courage to apply and live the lessons.


Franklin, B. (1986). The way to wealth. Boston: Applewood Books.

November 24, 2023

History Literature

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Benjamin Franklin

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