A Scarlet Solution Essay, Research Paper
A Scarlet Solution?”He that is without sin among you let him cast a stone at her” (St. John 8:7). In the novel The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne this particular verse may have been conveniently left out of the Puritan’s Bible. Yet stones they threw and in great abundance. In the 1600s, religion and moral standards had an extremely powerful influence on the way people lived. Single parents were not accepted and were severely punished by humiliation and even death. Today unwed mothers are not imprisoned or hanged and the Puritans might die in shame if they knew that their ancestors were having children while they were still in their teens. Yet The Scarlet Letter gives us something to think about. What has happened to society since the 1600s where it is acceptable to birth illegitimate children? And what is worse, there are many parents that are not even legal adults. So in examining the punishment of Hester Prynne and comparing today’s society with those of the 1600s it ables one to see that while The Scarlet Letter provides for good literature, it’s relevance in today’s society is nonexistent. Hester Prynne actually was quite fortunate in the discipline she received. It was standard for those who committed adultery to be put to death. If they were spared their lives it was conceivable that they would wear an “a”; except it would be in the form of a brand, usually on the face. The older women of the town thought that the magistrates, “should have put the brand of hot iron on (her) forehead.” [sl02.html#g05] Hester also endured a great deal of public humiliation. Upon being placed on the scaffold, she felt “…as if her heart had been flung unto the street for them all to spurn and trample upon.” [sl02.html#g17] Even though it is not as harsh today, young pregnant women are sometimes looked down upon. Some are asked to leave school when they are pregnant. It is hard enough for young mothers to try and raise a child today without suffering from public ostrazation and societal degradation. To do this would not only be extremely cruel, it would make the situation worse for mother and child. By making a further separation between teenage parents and society would only cause a lapse in finding a solution to a growing problem.
Society today is nothing like the world the Puritan’s knew long ago in the seventeenth century. The Puritans based their government and lifestyles on the Bible. “They were stern enough to look upon her death, had that been the sentence, without a murmur…” [sl02.html#g20] Religion was deeply rooted in every aspect of life. They believed firmly in punishment by humility Hester was to “be a living sermon against sin…”. [sl03.html#g13] Today, we live in a society where sinning is just as common as blinking one’s eye. The high morals that were once everyday life for many have almost ceased to exist in a world filled with violence, crime, and hatred. Committing adultery is as common as it was to go to the meeting house back then. The Scarlet Letter is a great classical work and it provides the reader with an intricate look into the guilt ridden hearts of two lovers who paid dearly for their sins. How this shows relevance to today’s teenage parents I have yet to discover. Punishing teenage parents as they did in Puritan times would be cruel and unusual therefore making it against the constitution. Degrading teens because of their mistakes would not solve the problems of young pregnancy. Making them wear an “a” on their close is completely ridiculous, it would probably develop into the latest fashion statement. There is somewhere a solution to solving the increasing problem of teenage pregnancy. To do this, society itself must be changed and a drastic reconstruction must take place. And while everyone is waiting around for this to happen if they have time to pick up a copy of The Scarlet Letter, it could prove for interesting reading, but not a solution to national problems.