ENGL 350: Work
The "Mac Dictionary", defines "work" as "An activity involving mental or physical effort done in order to achieve a purpose or result."
Franklin uses the word "work" frequently in the beginning of his autobiography, within several different constructs, which follow along with the definition. The first quote we found talks about his appreciation for working men "It has ever since been a pleasure to me to see good workmen handle their tools; and it has been useful to me, having learnt so much by it as to be able to do little jobs myself in my house when a workman could not readily be got, and to construct little machines for my experiments, while the intention of making the experiment was fresh and warm in my mind."
Franklin also associates different types of labor with higher and lower classes. For example, on page 127, Franklin tells the story of an old woman dusting the road for him, but he also sends someone to double check her work, as it was done very quickly. He also mentions how he manages the mood of his workers during the war on page 149, directly relating the quality of work with the temperament of his employees.
This quote represents the "physical effort" found within the definition. But in the next paragraph Franklin goes on to say "Pleased with the Pilgrim's Progress, my first collection was of John Bunyan's works in separate little volumes", representing the "mental effort" which is no less labor intensive than the physical.
Franklin seems to use the word “labor” and “work” interchangeably, both of which are held in high regard (without complaint).
Another use of the word “work” is that which refers directly to a “job” or the place at which that job takes place. Franklin uses this sense of the word quite regularly, referring to his jobs within the newspaper in chapter three constantly.
"Work" is synonymous with "industry," one of his thirteen virtues: "6. Industry. Lose no Time. Be always employ'd in something useful. Cut off all unneccesary Actions." (83).
Work is a means of becoming a functioning member of society and gaining a reputation. "To Industry and Frugality the early Easiness of his Circumstances, & Acquisition of his Fortune, with all that Knowledge which enabled him to be an useful Citizen, and obtain'd for him some Degree of Reputation among the Learned." (90-91).
Work is connected with order. "The Precept of Order requiring that every Part of my Business should have its allotted Time..."(87).
Franklin uses work in a way that recalls morality and virtue, a higher calling that betters the minds and spirits of men. His view of this definition seems to stem from the religious background of his family and pre-American british culture, but later turns into the more secular ethics and virtues as he defines and produces his own beliefs.
Work gains a mechanical aspect because of work's association with virtue. Franklin treats all of his virtues mechanically, literally writing and documenting them in essays and graphs.
When Franklin capitalizes "Work," he points to a higher ideal for work, the mechanical virtue that work symbolizes. When work is not capitalized, he means the physical act of labor or working.