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The Mark Of The Times Essay, Research Paper

The Mark of the TimesA lifetime ago… and yet somehow only yesterday, I awoke to the shiny air that always haunts that special morning. It was Christmas. The tingle I felt that morning came from somewhere else though. It was not from the tree nor the gifts that lay beneath. It came from the dark secret I held inside. As children often do, I chose to remain ignorant. With a joyus bounce, I leapt into the living room. To my surprise, the adults seemed to be crying. I inquired as to why they cried on such a joyus occasion. They seemed rather hesitant and unresposive. It took several minutes for me to invoke a response and even then it was nebulous at best. Eventually, I wrenched out the fact that I already knew. It seemed that Aunt Susie was having another baby and the tears where out of benevolence. This explanation was followed by an inevitable question and a rather long narrative on the rather impious nature of storks. Several years later, a friend of mine shot down the last stork and ended my ignorance. It turns out that human action actually creates babies. It is no wonder that this is such. Welfare encourages unwed mothers to breed like rabbits and schools do anything but teach abstinence. With the mention of the word “monogamy” most teenagers frown and point at the nearest mahogany. Schools under the facade of teaching “family life” instead instill sexual values reminiscent of the anything-goes ideology of the sixties. Welfare is given away to rectify the horrible problem of unsupportable children as Big Brother sits in his cold dark castle and wonders why the problem is so bad. Clearly the nation is in need of a crash course in sexual education and The Scarlet Letter is considered the bible of sexual education. Even those who have not read this classic realize its central image. A young woman is forced to wear a scarlet letter because she has commited the ultimate sin of adultery. The letter both defames her and provides a living example of the evils of adultery. The entire Puritan village refuses to aid Hester because of the illicit passion that left her alone with her daughter, Pearl. Hester’s former husband Roger Chillingsworth is bent on uncovering her dark secret and demanding retribution. The Scarlet Letter is much more than a fiery brand. Hester Prynne is the archetypical unwed mother of America. Plunging into a loveless marriage, Hester soon finds herself in a foreign country without the man she exchanged vows. The years slowly pass and everyone assumes that her husband has died. She falls in love with a minister, Arthur Dimmesdale but must raise the child alone because the father will not acknowledge the child. Hester pays dearly for her love. Unlike Dimmesdale, she cannot hide from her sin. “Once in my life I met the Black Man, this scarlet letter is his mark.” (16) Every day her whimsical child, Pearl, is there to remind her. And Pearl with the wild air of an animal, never finds a place in society. Only when she moves away from her home does she ever find solace. The dilemma facing Hester is one that has plagued American society for years. Today it is labeled the illegitimacy problem, but the politically correct name does nothing to appease the strife. The stigma of nonmarital sex, the identity of the biological parent, and the work of the child rearing almost always falls upon the mother. In the absence of an omniscient reader, the father often remains invisible. Much like Pearl, illegitimate children are regarded as predestined to life as an outcast. Today we do not blame the devil for the child’s sins, we use something far worse, statistics. Statistics do not tell us why a child commits a crime, abuses drugs, drops out of school, receives welfare and has more illegitimate children. Meanwhile, Congress sits in their warm, white castle on the Hill blaming statistics as they wonder why nobody likes them. They propose plans to lessen the burden placed on single mothers but cannot understand the truth. The way to deter people from having illegitimate children is to do what society did to Hester. As harsh as it may sound, illegitimate families must not receive any social succor. With all the monetary incentives of welfare, it is no wonder we have so many one parent families. Like child protective agencies currently enstated, the good Christians of the Puritan town deem Hester an unfit mother. They fear that Pearl has not had a proper upbringing and plot to leave her in the care of the state. Such plans are being instituted all over the United States and are justified by the myth that bad children were created by bad mothers. Many mothers are neglectful from birth, but not every illegitimate mother is a bad mother. Congress must devise a plan to separate neglectful mothers from truely caring parents. Some mothers, like Pearl’s, really do care, but other children are not as lucky. A great number of children in the United States are ill cared for, neglected and abused. Undoubtedly, these children would be better off in an orphanage where they can receive love, care and a proper upbringing. Hawthorne hints at this problem, but does not offer us any clues to the most important element: where to draw the line. At what point do you conclude that a mother is not providing the proper amount of love that a child deserves? According to statistics, if unwed mothers spent as little time with their children as fathers do, this would be called abandonment. Why then, do we look for solutions based on the mother?

Much like Arthur Dimmesdale, the unwed father’s role as a benefactor is quite small. They are not required to spend invaluable time with their child but rather pay a small monetary sum in recompense. Arthur gave neither monetary help nor emotional succor like most dead-beat fathers of America. Around half of the fathers ordered to pay child support do not pay it after the first year as the courts do next to nothing to enforce payment. Children do not just happen, it takes two and both should be held responsible. Children are not brought into existence as punishment for their sinful parents or to warn other errant souls as The Scarlet Letter would imply. “He bears no letter of infamy wrought into his garmet, as thou dost; but I shall read it in his heart.” (4) The violaters are aware of the crime which they have commited and the moral dilemma they are now faced with. Unnessecary hardships should not be forced upon the transgressors. This is the mentality behind state laws requiring pregnant minors to aquire parental permission for abortions. If minors are too immature to make decisions about the fate of a child, they are surely too immature to be a parent. There is no reason to make the minor have a child other than to teach her a lesson. As society strives for responsible parents, it places obstacles in the way of abortion. If a young woman knows that she cannot provide for her child, society should not force an impossible task upon her. Supporting and caring for children are two different things. Fathers like Arthur Dimmesdale are the most despicable creatures for they provide neither but historically we have had a division of labour in two-parent households for it is nearly impossible to earn money while watching the children. Working mothers attempt to accomplish this task through purchasing love from daycares. We fault single mothers for providing little love and support for their children but it must be understood that many married mothers do not provide these things either. The charachter of Roger Chillingworth is similar to the role the government plays today. “It irks me… that the partner of her inequity should not, at least, stand on the scaffold by her side. But he will be known! – he will be known! – he will be known!” (2) DNA does not make a father. Like Roger Chillingworth, Congress would have us performing thousands of DNA tests to force fathers into supporting their children. “Would ot be beyond a philosopher’s research, think ye, gentlemen, to analyze that child’s nature and from its make and mould, to give a shrewd guess at the father?” (8)This system creates no incentives for biological fathers to act like fathers. The system needs to be restructured so that children, fathers and mothers all see the effects of these monetary contributions. Fathers should be given credit for the time they spend with their children as well as the monetary donations they give. It needs to be understood that the value of love far exceeds anything money can buy. Quite obviously, the United States is in need of a crash course in sexual education. The current welfare system encourages illegitamacy as the schools teach immoral values. Child protective agencies seep to steal children away from caring families while the government forces newborns into an uncaring world. Fathers are forced to provide for their children but do not give their love and through all this the blame falls on the unwed mother. The Scarlet Letter can teach us a lot about our world in the light of a world nearly forgotten. We should listen to what it has to say. 5099270897


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