Franklin Evans Part 2

Franklin Evans Part II

After reading my first post on Franklin Evans, I think I alluded to some important details. Franklins Evans was a novel written by Walt Whitman before he released his celebrated poems, Leaves of Grass. A Google search of Franklin Evans yields almost no content related to Whitman while Song of Myself is a Whitman trademark. Professor Gold stated that most people still don’t know that Walt Whitman wrote Franklin Evans. Whitman even denied writing Franklin Evans at one point but this was proven false. That is one of the reasons the novel is over looked.

Franklin Evans is  a novel about intemperance or alcoholism as we call it today. Intemperance has always been a problem in society and it’s vividly described by Whitman as one of the worst evils man can commit. Through the narration of the protagonist Franklin Evans, Whitman shows us the dark side of drinking. The progression of Alcoholism starts destroying Franklin’s life and affecting his loved ones. Evans loses jobs, destroys his marriages and goes to jail as a result of his brandy escapades.

From the offset of the novel, Franklin is always observing the affects of alcohol on people’s lives. His first description of drunkeness was speaking of a farmer who had gone astray due to drinking. Franklin Evans was not drinking at this point, and then he met Colby and that was soon to change. When Colby asks Franklin to join him for a drink, he obliges and goes along with it. He regrets this action and thing come full circle at the end of the story.

I can trace the outset of all frailties, as well all the calamities that have befallen me in life, to that fatal night when Colby drew me into the drinking place; where, amid music and gayety, the first step in my downward road was taken.

Franklin makes drinking seem as an almost inescapable force to that drags down young men in Cities. Many in the novel have fallen prey. This novel is an attempt to encapsulate the many misfortunes a man can meet when he drinks. Franklin Evans stroke of luck saves him, only to sucumb to drinking again. In the conclusion, Whitman calls this novel an experiment. It is not only a look at drinking but a short treatise on temptation in the 19th century.  Many temperance groups appeared during the 19th century that discouraged drinking and other vices. This novel is arguably influential and is one of the first pieces of fictional literature that could have been called the Washingtonian Manifesto.

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