The Innovators of American Literature
From their critical assessments on how to improve themselves and to the American public that they influenced by their writings, Jonathan Edwards and Benjamin Franklin illustrate American themes in their personal narratives that quintessentially make part of American Literature. Although they lived in different times during the early development of the United States of America and wrote for different purposes, they share common themes. Their influence by their environment, individualism, proposals for a better society, and events that affected their society generate from their writings. By analyzing Jonathan Edwards' "Personal Narrative," "Resolutions," "Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God," and selections from Benjamin Franklin's The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin found in The Heath Anthology of American Literature: Third Edition Volume One edited by Paul Lauter, the fundamental themes in American literature are evident and their individual ideas are distinctive.
These personal narratives reveal the influences of their environment that gave them epiphanies to their closer perfection of themselves. Jonathan Edwards' "Personal Narrative" shows his journey towards a closer relationship
He pleas to divert the influence of uncertified preachers and stay close to the community and save themselves. Through his contemplation and goals seen in "Resolutions," he constantly seeks to improve himself, so he can fulfill God's plan for a new Holy Land, which is his congregation in New England. The theme of "rags to riches" dominates Franklin autobiography and it is a common theme used by many American writers. Franklin's true account of his success from moving from the lower class to the upper class influenced many of his fellow American in a needful time. Edwards endures a "rite of passage," which brings him closer to God. The spirituality of Franklin and Edwards is distinctive, and their writings reflect their experiences and growth of improvement. In, "Sinners of an Angry God," Edwards reacts with anger and fierceness to his congregation in the reaction to the "Great Awakening. The Heath Anthology of American Literature. At the time after America won its independence, the nation struggled for the identification of a model citizen. who lived close to nature faithful to her laws uncontaminated by artificialities of court or town" (9, 11). These epiphanies assisted on his assessment of becoming a better man in the eyes of God and minister to his community. " In Soundings: Some Early American Writers, Lewis Leary writes "Franklin was the true American. He discusses that the application of his list of virtues and how they make man a good citizen.