How Today’s Parents Compare To Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet LetterAdultery is a very serious thing, especially when it ends up in pregnancy. This is an integral part of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s novel, The Scarlet Letter. It is about a young woman named Hester Prynne. Hester is married, but she commits adultery with her pastor, Reverend Arthur Dimmesdale. She ends up getting pregnant. There is an obvious connection here to today’s teenagers. Some of these affairs end up in pregnancies. Teenage fathers have many different reactions to getting someone pregnant: some are joyful, others are wary, and some do not even care. Many of these young men are only with a girl once, and she ends up getting pregnant. Some men do not accept the responsibility of being fathers to the children they helped create. The fathers will not take charge until they become consumed by guilt. That is what happened to Dimmesdale. He would not confess to being the father of Pearl, the child who was born out of wedlock. After Hester had Pearl, and the town found out that she committed adultery, Dimmesdale did not acknowledge them. He would not confess to the town that he was the father because it would ruin him. In the novel, one of the Puritan townspeople said, “People say that the Reverend Master Dimmesdale, her godly pastor, takes it very grievously to heart that such a scandal should have come upon his congregation” [sl02.html#g04] This quote shows how Dimmesdale hid his sin from the people of the town. After Pearl’s birth, his guilt began to eat away at him. Finally he admitted his responsibility and confessed his crime to the villagers. Dimmesdale stood on the scaffold and declared the following: “Now at the death hour, he stands up before you! He bids you look again at Hester’s scarlet letter! He tells you, that, with all its mysterious horror, it is but the shadow of what he bears on his own breast, and that even this, his own red stigma, is no more than the type of what has scared his inmost heart! Stand any here that question God’s judgment on a sinner! Behold! Behold a dreadful witness of it” [sl23.html#g27]. This quote shows how Dimmesdale felt about his sin and how he felt everyone in the town should know about his wrongdoings. Dimmesdale’s reaction to Hester’s pregnancy reflects the same reaction teenage fathers may have to unexpected pregnancy. Teenage mothers also have many different reactions to their unexpected pregnancies. Some of them do not want to keep the child, but they have it anyway. Teenage pregnancies change the mother’s whole life. Society sometimes treats them horribly; they regard mother and child as outcasts, and talk about them continually. The teenage mother gives up her whole life, and even some of her friends. The child may grow up never having morals or any friends to play with. He or she could possibly be shunned by the legitimate children of society. When Hester had her daughter Pearl, Pearl was not accepted by the Puritan children. Pearl was therefore very antagonistic and violent towards them. After having Pearl, Hester’s life was changed completely. The townspeople treated Hester and Pearl terribly; they cast them out of their society. The townspeople said many things about them behind their backs; among these things was that Pearl was the embodiment of the scarlet letter. For example, when Pearl and Hester were walking through the town, a group of children exclaimed, “Behold, verily, there is the woman of the scarlet letter; and, of a truth, moreover, there is the likeness of the scarlet letter running along by her side…” [sl07.html#g06]. Hester felt so depressed at times that she did not want to live. Hawthorne states this: “At times, a fearful doubt strove to possess her soul, whether it were not better to send Pearl at once to heaven, and go herself to such futurity as Eternal Justice should provide” [sl13.html#g09]. This quote shows how Hawthorne expressed Hester’s idea of killing Pearl and herself to escape her life as it was at that point. Society made Hester wear an “A” on her chest, to show that she committed adultery. The scarlet letter was described thusly: “On the breast of her gown, in fine red cloth, surrounded with an elaborate embroidery and fantastic flourishes of gold-thread, appeared the letter A” [sl02.html#g10]. Because Hester committed one of the seven deadly sins, adultery, she was condemned to wear the scarlet letter for the rest of her life. Hester’s reaction to her pregnancy and sin of adultery coincides with the reactions of many teenage mothers.
Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter is relevant to today’s teenage parents in many ways. The actions that teenagers display compared to what Hester and Dimmesdale reflect are very similar. A lot of people act before they think, which ends up changing their lives forever.