Benjamin Franklin's Views on Women Analytical Essay by Jessie

Benjamin Franklin's Views on Women
Looks at the Benjamin Franklin's writings to try to understand his complicated, sometimes flirtatious, view of women.
# 149580 | 6,810 words | 18 sources | MLA | 2011 | US

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This paper explains that Benjamin Franklin's writings present a varied and complicated view of women so that scholars cannot fully comprehend his attitude towards them. Next, the paper describes colonial America's views on women, Franklin's relationship with his wife, his nickname "our founding flirt", his writings as Miss Polly Baker and his later years. Although he was known as a proponent for the rights of African slaves, the paper criticizes Franklin's failure to support women's rights but does state that he was involved in actions to better other issues faced by women. The paper includes many quotations especially from his writings.

Table of Contents:
Colonial America's Views on Women
Benjamin Franklin's Married Life
"Miss Polly Baker"
Franklin's Later Years

From the Paper:

"Miss Polly Baker was another pseudonym used by Franklin to explore the legal position of women during the period. Miss Baker was a young woman who gave birth to a bastard child and was subsequently "punished" for this "crime." Her punishment involved a forced marriage to one of her judges. Polly offers witness to the inequities of women in the public sphere; she is a victim not only of her actions, which were condemned by a judgmental society but not, technically, illegal, but also by the social restraints that prevented her from legally improving her position.
"In reading Miss Baker's "testimony" the reader learns that this is not her first infraction. Rather, Polly has mothered several illegitimate children and the fathers of her children are rumored to be high respected members of society. The testimony of Polly demonstrates the inequity faced by a woman in the then modern society. First, Polly was disadvantaged because of her poor education; she lacked the means to sustain herself in a lawful employment and was therefore unable to afford an attorney for representation. " MAY it please the Honourable Bench to indulge me in a few Words: I am a poor unhappy Woman, who have no Money to fee Lawyers to plead for me, being hard put to it to get a tolerable Living.""

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Brands, H.W. The First American: The Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin. New York: Doubleday, division of Random House, 2000.
  • Franklin, B. The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin: Second Edition. New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 2003.
  • Franklin, B. as Silence Dogood, No. 2. The New-England Courant, April 16, 1722. Accessed online 1-20-2007 at
  • Franklin, B. as Silence Dogood, No. 5, The New-England Courant, May 28, 1722. Accessed online 1-20-2007 at
  • Franklin, B. To Jane Franklin, Philadelphia, January 6, 1726. Accessed online 1-20-2007 At

Cite this Analytical Essay:

APA Format

Benjamin Franklin's Views on Women (2011, December 25) Retrieved March 03, 2024, from

MLA Format

"Benjamin Franklin's Views on Women" 25 December 2011. Web. 03 March. 2024. <>