The central ideas of the Enlightenment writers were similar to, yet very different
from, those of the writers of earlier periods. Four major Enlightenment writers were
Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, and Patrick Henry.
Their main purpose was to write to educate and edify and not so much as to write
for aesthetic purposes. Most of their work was designed to convey truth or give sound
instruction on such issues of political, social, or economic interest as Benjamin Franklin’s
“The Way to Wealth.”
The writers of the Enlightenment or, better put, die Aufklarung conveyed the ideas
of freedom, such as freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom from oppression, and
the intellectual freedom that every man has a right to whether it be oppressed by political
or religious issues which were, at the time, basically the same since the church and state
were still one.
The Enlightenment writers pushed forward their ideas and beliefs that all men
should be educated and have the ability to read so that they might learn more and rise
higher, socially and politically which would lead to self betterment.
Enlightenment writers and pre-Enlightenment writers were similar in the way that
they tried to convey reason and learning. They differed of the premise of the techniques of
writing. The pre-Enlightenment writers were mostly made up of the educated class of
clergy and the upper class, who would afford to go to school. The clergy wrote mainly
for the purposes of the church, such as transcribing books or writing works on God or
religion. The upper-class writers would be of the nobility, so they would usually write for
aesthetic purposes or to write essays to impress their peers.
Many great ideas were presented and defended by the Enlightenment writers which
were similar yet different from writers form earlier periods.