The author, Richard Saunders, used the literary persona of Poor Richard in his essay, Benjamin Franklin’s “The Way to Wealth.” Poor Richard is considered to be wise because of his views regarding money. The literary persona believes that time and hard work are the sources of a good comfortable life and that laziness coupled with complaining or ill-use of money only brings a man lower to his knees. The use of this persona allowed Saunders to attack the different views and principles of other people without directly offending them.
One of the quotes used was “a word to the wise is enough, and many words won’t fill a bushel.” This is actually intended for scholars and people who consider them selves knowledgeable. This simply means that it is easy to talk about what to do with one’s life and look smart because of it. However, wisdom and speech does not make one earn money. By using Poor Richard as a persona, Saunders is able to raise his views on this group of people to whom he feels a bit disappointed for not acknowledging his works.
Poor Richard also said, “God helps them that help themselves.” In a way, this is a comment against people who put too much emphasis on their religion and find the time to complain about their plight. By using the persona, Saunders is able to make statements that could offend religious people safely without really putting himself on the spot.
Using the persona, Saunders is also able to attack the wrong notions of people who feel that their low station in life has already burdened them for eternal poverty. “at the working man’s house hunger looks in, but dares not enter…for industry pays debts, while despare encreaseth them” and “Sloth, like rust, consumes faster than labor wears” are really statements that refer to laziness as the real attribute of a poor man’s problem. Saunders believes that hard work is the real way to get out of poverty and that complaining only makes one lose the valuable time to get out of debt.
Another group that Saunders criticized through his literary persona are those who are materialistic and do not use their money well. Poor Richard says, “What is a butterfly? At best He’s but a caterpillar dressed.” He feels that this want of material goods drives people in debt especially when these earthly desires teach them to borrow money.
The use of literary persona served Saunders well because he was able to point out the various mistakes that many stereotypical people make when it comes to money. Through the use of Poor Richard, the author was able to freely speak his mind about people who he could have offended if he used his own character to do so. Because of Poor Richard, Saunders was able to successfully deliver his thoughts safely.