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Scarlet Letter 2 Essay, Research Paper

Hester’s dark glossy hair shines in the sunlight as though it were surmounted by a halo, making her almost an image of the “divine maternity” opens Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel The Scarlet Letter [sl02.html#g19]. Her husband arrives in America, finding Hester Prynne in the pillory with her illegitimate child in her arms. Refusing to divulge the name of her lover, she is forced to wear a scarlet A, signifying adulteress, as a token of her sin. The husband conceals his identity, assumes the name Roger Chillingworth, and in the guise of a doctor seeks to discover her lover. Later discovering Dimmesdale to be the father of Hester’s child, Pearl, Chillingworth plots revenge. Reverend Dimmesdale, a seemingly saintly young minister, struggles for years with his hidden guilt. Although Nathaniel Hawthorne was a writer long before the 1900’s, nevertheless his novel The Scarlet Letter is relevant to today’s teenage parents. When we first encounter Hester at the story’s beginning, she appears upon a scaffold outside of a prison house. It is here Hester shows the scarlet letter “so fantastically embroidered and illuminated upon her bosom,” for the first time [sl02.html#g11]. Physically outward the letter forces not only Hester’s viewing of it but also provokes ridiculing from many members of the Puritan society in which she lives. “This woman has brought shame upon us all, and ought to die,” remarked a female townsperson before Hester emerges from the prison house [sl02.html#g07]. This sentiment remains as Hester stands upon the scaffold, and is not soon forgotten. The scarlet letter is the first mark of Hester’s sin, where as the first mark of a teenager’s mistake is the rapid expansion of her stomach that often results in permanent stretch marks. Uneasiness stems from morning sickness, tiredness, and sudden mood swings most teenagers experience during pregnancy. These conditions are further enhanced by the constant flow of reactions directed towards her. These reactions include shock, anger, sadness, and disappointment from loved ones and disapproval from society. In contrast, Hester was not the only one to face consequences due to a transgression. Dimmesdale anguishes with guilt that he is forced to encounter daily. Overcome by a guilty conscience, he often fabricated his own “scarlet token on his naked breast, right over his heart” [sl12.html#g04]. This pain of guilt “the gnawing and poisonous tooth of bodily pain” is not enough, however, to bring Dimmesdale into confession only at the last possible moment, causing his time with Pearl to be minimal [sl12.html#g04]. Selfishly, Dimmesdale sides with respect of the society rather than becoming a real father to Pearl.

The society as a whole frowns upon teenage pregnancy. This constant jeering from society often causes teenage fathers to flee from the burden, as Dimmesdale does. Others are not emotionally ready to be faced with the role of being a father. Many times, this inability of being a good father plagues the adolescent throughout life, resulting in many consequences laid upon the growing child. The consequences that are laid upon Pearl as a result of Hester and Dimmesdale’s crime are vast. One consequence Pearl faces is the punishment she relays to her mother daily for it is said that “One token of her (Hester’s) shame would but poorly serve to hide another” [sl02.html#g10]. Pearl has begun to recognize the scarlet letter as an extension of her own being as she mimics it by placing mermaid’s garb and eel-grass “on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar with…”[sl15.html#g11]. Teenagers can become so involved with their own problems when faced with an unplanned pregnancy, that they don’t stop to consider how it will affect the baby. Being born to a teenage mother can result in serious and lasting consequences for the child. The child develops in many cases slower than a child born to older parents. The child also faces overwhelming emotional problems because many products of teen pregnancy grow up without a father figure present and a still immature mother. Thus, teen parents are unable to provide the child with adequate love and attention while attending to future plans. Therefore, The Scarlet Letter is relevant to today’s teen parents, in many accounts. The mother, father, and child are all faced with consequences stemming from the initial act of wrongdoing. Doesn’t a child follow the parent’s example, even the most ill-fitted action?

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