• Alyssa Proctor

Alpha's and Delta's: Work Ethic

As people we have strengths and weaknesses, good and bad habits, nobody is the same. Everyone possesses different personality traits, both positive and negative, however Rip Van Winkle was surely the contrary personality of Benjamin Franklin. Although Rip Van Winkle is a fictional character, for the purpose of this paper we will be comparing these two frequently discussed men. The two individuals are nearly opposites of one another, considering how their differences are rather obvious and easily recognized. During this we can also consider how possessing certain personality traits may contribute to dictating someone’s success in both their career and life.

Benjamin Franklin, an extremely successful individual, began developing healthy habits early on during his upbringing, by immersing himself in the most possible education and knowledge. Reading was an enjoyable activity to him, therefore he gained great amounts of knowledge throughout the years, which he would later use in his career. He truly desired to enhance his education as much as possible, despite the many tasks which he had to tackle all at once, one being the apprenticeship under his father who was a candlemaker. The time which he initially invested in enhancing his knowledge payed off, considering that “By the time he was twenty-four, he was the sole owner of a successful printing shop as well as the editor and publisher of the Pennsylvania Gazette” (Franklin 440).

Then there is Rip Van Winkle, a thought to be fictional character whom lived a life which was nearly the opposite of Benjamin Franklin’s. We do not know much information of Van Winkle’s education, although from reading about the character, we can agree that he does not enjoy partaking in a challenging activity for a long period of time, as he wants to take a route which requires the lowest amount of effort. The reputation of “Rip Van Winkle, however, was one of those happy mortals, of foolish, well-oiled dispositions, who take the word easy, eat white bread or brown, which ever can be got with least thought or trouble, and would rather starve on a penny than work for a pound” (Irving 1006). The level of energy and dedication which someone is willing to pay, in hopes of accomplishing a goal is differentiated based upon the individual.

After being asleep for twenty years, Van Winkle woke up to find that his wife had passed, although his perspective on the event seemed to assume that this would ease his stress. He also never demonstrated a strong opinion on opposing or supporting the American Revolution, which also took place during his slumber. When he woke from his sleep which had lasted an entire two decades, the major changes of the world he lived were quite vast, although he is a passive individual, so he did not give many remarks on his opinion of the events. In fact, Winkle preferred to have the opinion of the majority, as it would increase his chances of being accepted by others.

Van Winkle passionately opposed partaking in Christianity, as he didn’t see the need to follow the set rules of another or spend his Sunday morning at church. Franklin, however, sought it to be an important asset for stability in one’s self. The fewer rules there were more freedom Van Winkle felt while Franklin felt security and comfort when rules were applied.

Time management is an asset which can be learned, although most people seize to remember how it simplifies their life. Franklin truly valued time, as he wrote,

“If time be of all things the most precious, wasting time must be . . . the greatest prodigality; . . . lost time is never found again; and what we call time enough, always proves little enough . . .” (Franklin 443).

In contrast, Rip Van Winkle would often leave the house with no reason other than to merely escape the company of his wife and family. Rip Van Winkle didn’t have much to manage when he woke in the morning, so excessive drinking was not an inconvenient action for him to partake in. Franklin however strongly opposed drinking as he always liked to be in a state of mind that was ready to tackle tasks.

In psychology, individuals are oftentimes categorized by their personality types. We can see that Benjamin Franklin would nearly check all the traits of an Alpha male, due to his thorough record of working hard and becoming accomplished.

“He is extremely successful both in his private life and his business life and because of that, he has many enemies. A man like this is a born leader, so when he speaks, the rest of the people around him keep their mouths shut” (Keller).

Alphas are confident and believe that their opinions should be heard and considered. Because of their habits and personality traits, they work hard and reap the reward in life through wealth and happiness.

Van Winkle, however, is far different from Franklin and would most likely be categorized as a Delta. For Van Winkle, it is obviously described that,

“He doesn’t have the same amount of self-esteem as an Alpha male but he tries to be the best version of himself” (Keller).

Considering how he reacted to waking up twenty years later and missing the American Revolution, he remained to have the attitude that he didn’t care much about it. Just as Van Winkle Deltas are,

“Extremely private people, deltas are aloof, with an 'I really couldn't care less' attitude and are often resentful towards something or the other” (Wood).

Their carelessness in life often results in them losing out on their aspirations, if they even had any aspirations this is. Because of his lack of ambition, he remains unsuccessful and must settle for merely existing.

In conclusion, both of these men began at a relatively similar starting point, considering the fact that Franklin was the son of a candle and soap maker. We do not know much of Van Winkle’s parents, although the story setting helps us to assume that he also came from a low social ranking. Franklin made his earnings and social stature from the ground up, because of his hard work ethic, while Van Winkle wallowed in what had been handed to him. One individual achieved success, a satisfying life and was a founding father, while the other individual lived a life of just merely existing and made no influence upon society.

Works Cited

Franklin, Benjamin. “Benjamin Franklin.” The Norton Anthology American Literature, Beginnings to 1820, 9 ed., edited by Robert S. Levine, Norton, 2017, pp. 440.

Irving, Washington. “Rip Van Winkle.” The Norton Anthology American Literature, Beginnings to 1820, 9 ed., edited by Robert S. Levine, Norton, 2017, pp. 1006.

Keller, Christine. “Alpha vs Beta vs Gamma vs Omega vs Delta vs Sigma Personality – Which Type Are You?” Her Way, Her Way, 1 Oct. 2019, https://herway.net/life/alpha-vs-beta-vs-gamma-vs-omega-vs-delta-vs-sigma-personality-type/.

Wood, Robin. “From Alpha To Gamma, Here Are 5 Male Personality Types That Decide Your Characteristic Traits.” Mensxp.com, MensXP.com, 30 Sept. 2018, https://www.mensxp.com/relationships/impress-women/47584-from-alpha-to-gamma-here-are-5-male-personality-types-that-decide-your-characteristic-traits.html.


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